SCN: How long have you been with the Professional Audio Manufacturers Alliance, and what are your responsibilities?
Chris Regan: RF Venue joined PAMA in 2018. I was selected by the PAMA directors as chair-elect in 2018, and took over from Sennheiser's Greg Beebe as chair in 2021. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to host meetings and promote the industry on behalf of membership companies. I'm also the co-founder and president of RF Venue.
SCN: What is PAMA’s mission, and how does it work to accomplish it?
CR: Since its inception in 2003, PAMA has promoted awareness and appreciation of high-quality professional audio through market leadership, communication, and education. Today, PAMA harnesses the collective strength of the pro audio community to ensure the health and well-being of our industry.
One of the great things about being in PAMA is our ability to share and discuss common issues with our member companies. We are all currently going through similar issues, from supply chain disruptions to rapidly changing consumer demand. Being able to discuss these trends with peer companies has been a great resource. Additionally, we communicate and promote the benefits of professional audio hardware and software in high-quality audio, disseminate important information on trends in the industry, protect and grow the professional audio industry through outreach to students, and collaborate with trade associations and exhibitions.
[Executive Q&A: Quality Audio for All] (opens in new tab)
Our student-focused events have become a core initiative. PAMA-hosted panel discussions for students studying pro audio feature member companies' representatives who speak on hiring, internships, and career paths on the manufacturing side of the industry. There are a lot of brilliant young audio engineers that might not consider roles in manufacturing, so it’s PAMA’s job to educate them on what those roles look like and the best ways to pursue those opportunities. We also co-sponsor with Shure an annual scholarship for audio students in honor of the late Mark Brunner.
SCN: How is PAMA celebrating its 20th anniversary?
CR: We have updated our brand with a new PAMA logo featuring crisp lines and digital imagery evoking the excitement and potential of the future of professional audio. This year will also see the continuation of PAMA’s compelling series of monthly webinar events featuring leading voices sharing their perspectives on various industry issues, the separate series of student-focused webinars, the naming of 2023 recipients of the Mark Brunner Professional Audio Scholarship, profiles of audio professionals from PAMA member companies with insights from their unique and varied perspectives, and contribution by PAMA members to ongoing dialogs on critical industry issues.
SCN: Are there exclusive PAMA membership benefits?
CR: Depending on the level of participation, member benefits can include direct access to executives from pro audio companies around the globe, company inclusion on our job feed, invitations to on-site meetings hosted by a PAMA member company, and the opportunities to serve on the board of directors, participate on quarterly panels with pro audio students, and contribute to industry issue analysis and commentary. It is a wonderful group of people who are passionate about the industry, and I have developed great relationships that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
SCN: How many member companies does PAMA currently have, and what are you doing to grow membership?
CR: PAMA member companies include Audinate (opens in new tab), Audio-Technica, Audix, Biamp, d&b audiotechnik, Harman, IEMITO (In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization), QSC, RF Venue, Sennheiser, and Shure. We are supported by Jennifer Shockley, our independent executive director, who has been with us since December 2017. We meet once a month virtually and normally meet face-to-face at least once a year at member companies’ offices. We are welcoming new member companies to join PAMA’s ranks, as well as industry professionals interested in presenting to the group at our open events.
SCN: What types of activities does PAMA sponsor for its members?
CR: Our members are our greatest assets and resources for the industry. PAMA member companies realize that we can compete while still cooperating to the benefit of not only our members, but also the industry at large. Our board and membership meetings, online and in person, serve to facilitate open dialog that raises all boats.
PAMA’s online member meetings (open to the industry) feature guest speakers from the pro audio industry. We have had some amazing presentations and Q&A sessions with experienced executives from Sweetwater, ATK Audiotek, the Roadie Clinic, IdeaCloud, and Iron Mountain Entertainment Services, as well as leading economists and market researchers presenting valuable insight and industry forecasts. All our online issue-based and student-focused events are archived for anyone to view at pamalliance.com/events.
[Q&A: Environmentally Friendly Packaging Part of Shure Sustainability Efforts] (opens in new tab)
Members also worked together with industry trade organizations to address outdated language and terminology issues. The result was “PAMA Recommendations for Neutral Nomenclature in Pro Audio,” a document that was embraced by the industry and includes a list of suggested terms to replace current terminology.
SCN: PAMA conducts its own industry research—any data you’d like to share now that companies are moving past the pandemic?
CR: We’re seeing unprecedented growth in both live and installed sound. Venues are fully booked, artists are back on the road, seats are selling out, and installation projects are moving ahead at full steam. There are still lingering supply chain issues (opens in new tab) affecting many projects, but we’re seeing those bottlenecks starting to clear as we get further into 2023. One of the strongest growth areas in the industry is in audio for conferencing and streaming, where high-quality audio has become a critical element of voice intelligibility.
SCN: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the pro audio industry?
CR: For pro audio manufacturers, installers, live sound production companies, and end users alike, finding and retaining talent is proving to be the biggest challenge. Since the pandemic shutdown, many talented individuals left the field, and finding experienced replacements is difficult. There is also a lot of competition across industries for engineering talent of all kinds. This is why an important part of PAMA’s strategic plan is promoting the pro audio industry to students who may not otherwise consider the many opportunities available.
That said, the future is bright for PAMA and the entire pro audio industry. There are all kinds of new immersive technologies like extended reality (XR), Dolby Atmos, and other innovations that will continue to drive the industry forward.