Chris Regan first entered the pro audio industry in 2004—coincidentally the same year that the Professional Audio Manufacturers Alliance (PAMA) was formed. In time, Regan went on to co-found antenna and RF signal distribution accessory manufacturer RF Venue and lead the company as its president. Now his leadership abilities are being applied in a different way, as he began a two-year term as president of PAMA’s Board of Directors in January.
“I joined PAMA in 2018 and was so impressed by the membership and organization,” Regan recalls. “When the opportunity became available to lead the organization and educate more of the pro audio community about PAMA, I jumped on it.”
Regan inherited the role of president from Greg Beebe, director, Professional Audio at Sennheiser, who Regan credits for having “set PAMA on a strong growth track,” and aiding with his own acclimation into the organization. Today, he says, “PAMA is not only a place to learn what’s happening in the market and to network with peers in the industry, it’s also a platform that enables the industry to speak with a common voice on matters of importance for pro audio.”
Naturally, one of those matters of importance is the global pandemic and its effects on the industry. Regan acknowledged it has created “obvious disruptions for live events,” but also noted it has provided massive growth opportunities in market segments like USB microphones, home studio recording equipment, streaming and small outdoor PA systems.
While manufacturers in the organization come from different parts of the industry, they all can share and discuss common issues with other member companies. “We are all going through similar challenges during this pandemic, from supply chain disruptions to rapidly changing consumer demand,” he says. “Being able to discuss these trends with peer companies has been a great resource.”
PAMA hasn’t only looked inwards during the pandemic, however, as it has also reached out, devoting time and resources to help members of the live sound community. “The pandemic brought silence to clubs, halls, theaters, arenas and stadiums worldwide,” says Regan. “It’s not just the performers who are sidelined, but also the engineers and live event crews that make the performances possible. Fortunately, we were in a position to be able to use dedicated funds to help The Roadie Clinic and Crew Nation—two organizations that have been helping live sound professionals affected by the pandemic.”
The organization also contributed to the Audio Engineering Society’s (AES) pandemic-driven fundraising initiatives and has also been finding new ways to aid in the advancement of audio technology, innovation and education. “Most recently, PAMA has been hosting open online meetings featuring guest speakers from the pro-audio industry,” says Regan. “We have had some amazing presentations and Q&A sessions with experienced executives from Sweetwater and ATK Audiotek, as well as leading economists and market researchers presenting valuable insight and industry forecasts.”
Looking to help foster the next generation of industry leaders, PAMA has held student panel discussions on networking opportunities and job searching during a pandemic. Member companies can speak on these panels to introduce pro audio students to opportunities on the manufacturing side of the industry. “There are a lot of brilliant young audio engineers that might not consider roles in manufacturing,” says Regan, “so it’s PAMA’s job to educate them on what those roles look like, how they could benefit and the best ways to pursue those opportunities.”
Furthering its educational mission, PAMA, in partnership with Shure Incorporated, recently launched the Mark Brunner Professional Audio Scholarship to help students worldwide who are pursuing an education in professional audio. “Mark was a long-time Shure executive, PAMA founding member and leading voice in the audio community,” says Regan. “PAMA will be granting the first scholarship later this summer, so we’re thrilled to be honoring our friend Mark’s dedication to education and passion for teaching.”
Conversely, the member companies are also educating themselves: “We’ll be announcing soon PAMA-recommended neutral terminology guidelines collaboratively developed to promote inclusivity in our industry.”
All these efforts by PAMA highlight that while some member companies are fierce competitors in the market, there is great camaraderie within the organization, as well as a shared common goal to move pro audio forward. “The bottom line is we are all in this pro audio industry together,” says Regan, “and we need to work together to grow the market, establish best practices and more.”
Professional Audio Manufacturers Alliance • www.pamalliance.org