Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Price fixing with competitors created a greater incentive for companies to unite and merge under one name so that they were not competitors anymore and technically not price fixing...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Merger the only answer....

How much will they gouge the market in the future remains to be seen. When there is only one big company capable of doing the festivals, arenas and stadium shows you can guarantee it will happen. If JANDS are involved it is a certainty.

Back in the 80's JANDS had a monopoly on the sound production business in Australia, created by buying other companies and forming alliances overseas. The major shareholders at the time made a killing, and it seems they are about to do the same again. Back then international acts had no choice but to use whatever JANDS had. Nowadays they bring their own sound equipment with them, despite the great expense, because they they can!!

The history of the two firms in fierce competition ultimately bought the prices down to such a ridiculous level that they are unsustainable in the long term.

There is no doubt this merger was prompted by the need to drive the price back up again at both companies. In collusion, of course, would be illegal but as a merged entity it is achievable.

Neither company can afford another summer in Australia. Especially not with the big players in the USA, UK and Europe shipping sound equipment out for the artists on their roster of acts.

The promoters will be the big losers. They benefitted from a decade of low prices on sound production, Soon they will not be able to 'peg' one off against the other to get a cheaper deal. Whether they pass the extra cost onto the consumer is anyones guess.

In most mergers about 20-25% of staff go due to layoffs, natural attrition and centralisation.

Existing crew in both organisations may find working with each other a little 'prickly'. Competition amongst the contractors will intensify, even across borders with a cross pollination of crew on gigs across Australia.

In a competitive environment the contractors will be jockeying for position and have to be willing to drop their price to get the work.

Sadly, it will be the crew who will come off the worst in all this. Certainly more work is on the horizon but working for less money and longer hours will make the whole merger thing unattractive in the long run.

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.

JAS / JANDS Merger CX Magazine News


It was a long time coming. Sydney based Jands Production Services have for some time been engaged in a price war with Melbourne live audio firm Johnston Audio Services. Sitting on one side of the war was the largest live audio in Australia - Norwest Productions.

Now there are two equally potent players, with Jands and JAS having announced a merger, effective July 1 'following due dilligence'.

JAS and Norwest had talked along the same lines. JAS were keen to reposition, feeling a little left out and facing a long squeeze on margins with Jands and Norwest matching or beating prices.

Concert promoters will now pay for more live audio - new industrial awards take effect in July, and the merger mean that a decade long freeze on hiring rates will evaporate.

The new entity - JandJ, JJands, or JJAS - will probably be called Jands. It will operate in a similar manner to the way it is now - Jands in Sydney; JAS in Melbourne. But it will coral together a singificant inventory, and snatch the title of 'Australia's Largest' away from Norwest.

Norwest itself is a conglomeration of audio firms, with Norwest Productions growing out of Sydney and buying Oceania Audio (NZ) and McLean Audio (Melb). Norwest also runs offices in Brisbane and China.

The new dynamic will probably work well for all players - Norwest tend to do more corporate and major event work, while Jands and JAS have focussed on concerts and festivals. Norwest and Jands do compete, but Norwest of late has been offering realistic pricing to extract a return to its many staff investors and its primary backers.

Winners: Pro Audio community.

Losers: Concert Promoters.

Make a comment on the Jands and Johnston merger

Australasia’s leading touring audio suppliers; Jands Production Services Pty Limited (JPS) and Johnston Audio Services (JAS) have entered into a head of agreement to merge the two companies. The heads of agreement is subject to undertaking of due diligence which is expected to be completed by the end of June.

Both companies have long histories in the touring sound market and over the past four decades have supplied production services to nearly every major tour and music event in Australia and New Zealand.

Eric Robinson, CEO of JPS, commented, “In our discussions it has become clear that we’re both facing the same challenges on large tours and music events. Our clients are looking to us for increased efficiencies and jointly we’ll be able to respond in a way that reduces costs, expands our equipment offering, and solves logistical problems. Potentially it brings major benefits to promoters and touring artists”.

The companies will continue to operate from their existing premises in Sydney and Melbourne and both expect to benefit by having access to a larger pool of equipment and expertise. The merged group expects to use the synergies of working together to deliver outstanding service for their clients.

Commenting on the move JAS managing director Bruce Johnston stated, “I am excited about the new equipment and services we’ll be able to bring to our customers. The combination of JAS and JPS will create one of the best audio companies in the world, providing real benefits to Australian and international artists".

The merger of the two companies will increase the level of support and service available to JPS and JAS clients and reinforces the group’s ongoing commitment to meeting the challenges of the modern touring market. Together the companies intend to remain at the forefront of technology, clearly demonstrated by the recent introduction of new speaker systems and significant investment in control and amplification packages.

Jands Production Services was founded in 1970 and operates in the theatre, corporate and touring audio markets.

Johnston Audio Services commenced operation in 1985 and provides audio for tours festival and fixed installations.

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