Sunday, June 6, 2010

CX Magazine update

Jands and JPS merge - analysis

Bruce Johnston says that the new audio firm commencing July 1st will be a new entity, with Eric Robinson and himself at the helm. It will still be known as Johnston Audio Services (JAS) in Melbourne, and Jands Production Services (JPS) in Sydney.

"Melbourne will be a J Series and VDosc base, and Sydney will feature K1 and VDosc. Our 100 VDosc boxes will end up at the JPS standard."

The new live audio colossus will have compatible V-Dosc systems, JBL Vertec, d+b audiotechnik J Series, and Kudo line arrays, and a considerable number of Avid Venue/Profile consoles. JPS own the first Midas XL-8 digital platform in Australia; and the two audio firms have considerable other high end inventory.

"I spent ten years touring with Oasis, and only finished last year. I know the scene - I saw the mergers in the UK where there is too much audio. Australia is about right - if AC/DC hadn't brought their own PA then we would have run out of audio here last summer."

"John Penn from SSE Audio Group (UK) helped me make this decision. It came down to Jim Straw (JPS General Manager), he made a big call after PLASA. He brought this to Eric (Robinson, JPS CEO). It all comes down to due diligence now, and that is about number of shares to each party. I didn't want my crew seeing it (due diligence) which is why we've announced it now."

Johnston is excited about the deal. "I wanted to go to the next level", he says. "Now we are sitting down and talking about summer and will make decisions about what to buy - and we can buy equipment, we don't have investment bankers to appease".

JPS also have a decades old relationship with Clair Brothers, the world's largest audio provider from the US. It sees Clair clients serviced by JPS, who usually house a Clair i5 line array in the region during the southern summer.

After a decade long price war, the two sides coming together is a logical move.

Concert Promoters will pay more for live audio, after a long season of intense competition.

Over at Norwest Productions, Chairman Chris Kennedy is relaxed. "I assert we are the best live audio firm, and can forego the mantle as 'biggest'. But we probably still are the biggest!"

In the regions, the next layer of audio firms are watching closely. IJS based in Brisbane and with a warehouse in Sydney probably assume third place in size, then there is a wide field of similar sized operations.

The sleeping giant in all of this is Canada's Solotech who are accumulating major international touring acts at a dizzy pace. They have shipped Meyer systems into Australia for a variety of top line artists in recent times, and will do so across the next summer. They are rumoured to be opening a branch somewhere local, sometime.

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