CLAIR BROS. BUYS SHOWCOClair Brothers Audio Inc., of Lititz, Pa., has bought its most prominent rival in the sound reinforcement business, Dallas-based Showco Inc. According to Clair Bros. president and CEO Roy Clair, Showco's owners, Vari-Lite International Inc., decided to concentrate on that company's lighting business and approached Clair Bros. as a possible purchaser for the sound rental company. "We thought that the possibilities were very exciting," says Clair. "If you take two of the best companies and put them together, you should end up with a better company."
Clair Bros. will relocate Showco's equipment inventory to Lititz, where purchasing, workshop and maintenance operations for the two companies will be consolidated, though the proprietary equipment lines will be kept separate. "We are not interested in changing anything Showco is doing, because they are doing it well," Clair adds. "The phones will be answered as Showco, and their sales division will be taking care of their customers."
Showco will continue to operate a regional sales office in Dallas. "This is not an ugly situation at all," notes Showco VP of sales M.L. Procise. "The shop employees who are leaving were all offered positions with Vari-Lite or Clair, and we are keeping all of our road crews intact. We'll continue to service our 70-plus clients with Showco Prism[R] systems, and Clair will provide us with the financial resources for growth that Vari-Lite was no longer able to commit."
The merger is notable not only because Clair Bros. and Showco are two of the largest and longest established U.S. sound rental companies, but also because of the recent spate of takeovers and consolidations in the touring business. In recent years, the Production Resource Group (PRG) has consolidated the operations of ProMix, Burns Audio, A-1 Audio and Electrotec, and the SFX organization, now owned by radio conglomerate Clear Channel Communications, has consolidated most of the country's show and tour promotion companies.- Chris Michie
EM EDITORS' CHOICE AWARDSMix's sister publication, Electronic Musician, announced its 10th Annual Editors' Choice Awards. Celebrating excellence in audio, musical instrument and computer products, the awards are based on products used or reviewed by the magazine's staff during the eligibility year ending October 1, 2000.
The 2001 award winners in 29 categories include: Alesis MasterLink ML-9600; Applied Acoustics Systems Tassman; Audio-Technica AT4047/SV mic; Big Briar CP-251; BLUE Dragonfly mic; Coda Finale 2000; Digigram VXPocket; FXpansion VST-DX Adapter 2.1; Hafler M-5 monitors; Korg D16 and MS2000R; Kurzweil K2600; Langevin Dual Vocal Combo; Lexicon MPX-500; Metasonix TS-21 Hellfire Modulator; MOTU Digital Performer 2.7; Near-field Multimedia/Buchla Marimba Lumina; NemeSys GigaStudio 160; Presonus Blue Tube; Roland ED U8 USB Digital Studio; Sounds Logical WaveWarp 1.2; Steinberg PPG Wave 2.V (VST) and WaveLab 3.0; Symbolic Sound Kyma 5.0; Tascam MX-2424 digital multitrack; Wave Mechanics Speed; Waves C4 Native and L2 Ultramaximizer; and Yamaha A5000 sampler. The Most Innovative Product Award was a tie, shared by Tactex MTC Express and Roland VP-9000 VariPhrase.
17TH ANNUAL TEC AWARDS CALL FOR ENTRIESThe Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards Nominating Panel is now accepting entries for product nominations for the 17th Annual TEC Awards, to be held September 22, 2001, in New York City. To be eligible, products must have been released and in commercial use during the period from March 1, 2000, to February 28, 2001.
Categories are Ancillary Equipment, Amplifier Technology, Mic Preamplifier Technology, Computer Software & Peripherals, Microphone Technology, Sound Reinforcement Loudspeaker Technology, Studio Monitor Technology, Musical Instrument Technology, Signal Processing Technology (Hardware), Signal Processing Technology (Software), Recording Devices/Storage Technology, Workstation Technology, Sound Reinforcement Console Technology, Small Format Console Technology and Large Format Console Technology.
Companies wishing to nominate products should send complete product name and qualifying category, date first commercially available (proof of shipment may be required; beta test sites do not qualify), and a contact name and telephone number.
Send all information to: TEC Awards, 1547 Palos Verdes Mall #294, Walnut Creek, CA 94596; fax 925/939-4022; or e-mail KarenTEC@aol.com. All entries must be postmarked by Thursday, February 1, 2001. For more information, call Karen Dunn at 925/939-6149.
NAPSTER, BMG ALLIANCEThe court battles against Napster may come to a screeching halt after Bertelsmann e-commerce Group and the online file-sharing music service announced a strategic alliance to change the original structure of the service by charging a fee.
The change is financed partly by Bertelsmann, which lent Napster an undisclosed amount to help implement a new business model and received an option to buy a stake in the company. Once the new service is in place, BMG will drop its lawsuit and begin plans to encourage other record companies to follow suit.
"This is a call for the industry to wake up," said chairman and chief executive of Bertelsmann Thomas Middelhoff. "It is not enough to fight file-sharing in the courtroom."
Under this agreement, Napster will compensate Bertelsmann and other record labels based on the number of their songs exchanged on the service by extracting part of the fee to pay for royalties.
It remains unclear when the new service will be implemented, how much the fee will be, how revenue will be shared and whether users will agree to pay for the service.
In other BeCG news, Matthew Katz's record label, San Francisco Sound, filed a lawsuit against the e-commerce group, purporting that the alliance is aiding Napster to continue its file-sharing operations. Katz believes that this infringement on copyrights has adversely affected his business. Frank Sarfeld, senior VP and chief communications officer of BeCG, did not return phone calls.
HOT LINKSSabine announced that it has put an online book, Digital Delay Advantage, on its Web site, www.Sabine.com. It can be downloaded for free and explains delay theory, provides examples and offers how-to instructions, as well as several practical applications.
Fairlight launched its new Web site at www.fairlightesp.com. The site features support information, user manuals, user discussion forums, a distributor locator, news and events, and product information.
TC Electronic announced a new Web site dedicated to its System 6000 signal processor. The site, www.System 6000.com, contains software updates, customer support and user stories.
CORRECTIONSDue to editing errors, the following schools had incorrect or missing information in the "Audio Education Directory" (November 2000).
University of Oregon, School of Music, 1225 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403; Phone: 541/346-3761; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (undergraduate); email@example.com (graduate); Web site: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~fmo. Degrees/Certificates Offered: B.S. Music Technology Option, Masters of Music in Intermedia Music Technology (final approval pending) and Intermedia Music Technology as a secondary area for doctoral students.
Full Sail Real World Education, 3300 University Boulevard, Winter Park, FL 32792; Phone: 800/226-7625; Fax: 407/678-0070; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: www.fullsail.com. Degrees/Certificates Offered: Associate of Science Degrees in Recording Arts, Show Production and Touring, Film and Video Production, Digital Media, Computer Animation and Game Design.