KRK Systems has been an integral part of the recording industry for almost 35 years, and since 2011 it’s also been a part of the Gibson Pro Audio division. Gibson Brands’ new ownership and management team, led by CEO James “JC” Curleigh, is guiding KRK into the future, and key to that effort is Cesar Gueikian, chief merchant officer. In addition to KRK, Gueikian is responsible for Gibson, Epiphone, Kramer, and the newly acquired Mesa/Boogie, as well as the Gibson Gives and the KRK Kares foundations.
“KRK is an influential brand with over three decades of history-shaping sound in partnership with artists, music producers and engineers across multiple genres of music,” Gueikian said. “I am committed to driving the KRK brand forward.”
For 20 years, Gueikian has worked with companies that were in trouble, improving their reputations and increasing growth. However, his passion has always been music and guitars. “Over the years, I acquired an extensive guitar collection, which has helped me develop a high level of knowledge of guitars and music history, which is proving to be quite useful now,” he said. “My current role combines my professional background and skill set with my biggest passion.”
Gueikian has been a musician for most of his life, having played with multiple bands and recorded music—which is how he became familiar with KRK. (“There are always those yellow cones in the studio!”) He’s not the only one on the team with that kind of background, either. “I believe we as individuals are a reflection of our teams, so I surround myself with talented people who are not only professionally qualified, but also share the same passion,” he said.
As a brand, KRK sits at the crossroads of sound and recorded music of all types and genres, and that ubiquitous presence has led to Gibson placing a stronger emphasis on KRK in recent times, as demand grows for the brand due to both a refreshed product line and, for better or worse, the pandemic.
“The pandemic has inspired people to put a greater focus on music,” he said. “In some cases that’s consuming music, and in other cases, we have seen people inspired to create music. Whether people are learning to play guitar, playing more guitar or setting up home studios, the pandemic has recalibrated our schedules and allowed for more time dedicated to playing, writing and recording.”
As a company, said Gueikian, KRK has leaned in to be supportive of artists, the music community, and fans through its digital platforms, as well as raising funds and awareness through Gibson Gives and KRK Kares. “We have been proactive, and that has resulted in a high level of artist and fan engagement,” he said.
Gibson Brands is based in Nashville, with offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Miami, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Tokyo and Shanghai, and manufacturing facilities in the United States and overseas. The result of that global coverage is that the various Gibson Brands often intersect: “This makes it efficient for my teams to drive all our initiatives across all our brands,” said Gueikian. “We are organized in functional teams that work together in service of all of our brands and categories, and we operate in what we call a matrix structure of brands, functions and regions…. Our mission is centered around capturing the largest share of sound across all of our brands. KRK’s brand recognition and customer loyalty is what is driving us forward with product development, with the goal of building the highest quality products in the history of our company.”
That brand recognition has been a crucial factor as the company evaluates emerging movements, demographics and new adopters: “The second half of 2020 was the highest growth period in the history of KRK. We are also experiencing an adoption of KRK by younger generations as a result of the work that our team has been doing to connect and support younger artists, producers, DJs, podcasters and content creators. I am encouraged by this and believe the future is bright for KRK to continue to shape sound across genres, genders and generations.”
Grabbing that opportunity and running with it, KRK is kicking off the first steps in its three-year roadmap, said Gueikian: “We have been working on a dual strategy of in-studio and home, combined with portability and mobility.” Waiting in the wings is the new KRK subwoofer line, debuting this spring, new KNS headphones, an expansion of KRK Classic monitors later this year, and the introduction of an all-new portable monitor line.
“In addition, we’re focused on creating demand and engagement through content, leveraging the success of our online Gibson TV network and the artist relations reach that we have around the world,” he said. “2021 is going to be a big year in KRK history, and I haven’t told you what’s coming in 2022 and 2023. It’s very exciting.”
Despite the pandemic, Gueikian believes that music is and always will be a powerful way to clear your head and become inspired to create. “The healing power of music brings us together, and Gibson, together with our artist family, is committed to staying culturally engaged and connected to music,” he said. “To that end, we have established KRK Kares, a 501(c)(3) foundation program that provides KRK equipment to organizations in need. KRK Kares’ objective is to make music matter to more people, in more ways than ever before—one KRK monitor, subwoofer or headphone at a time.”
KRK Systems • www.krkmusic.com