Tag Archives: Sweetwater

Sweetwater Revenues Roll Past $1 Billion

Chuck Surack, founder and CEO of Sweetwater.
Chuck Surack, founder and CEO of Sweetwater.

Fort Wayne, IN (February 17, 2021)—The past year was one for the record books in the U.S., and not in a good way, thanks to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet there was a silver lining for some, including pro audio equipment and music instrument retailer Sweetwater, which set its own record in 2020.

With professionals gearing up to work from home during lockdown, individuals and organizations implementing new video streaming and podcasting solutions, and a good chunk of the population looking to further its musical ambitions, Sweetwater served more than 1.5 million customers last year. That proved to be a significant increase from 2019, and 2020 ultimately drove the company’s annual revenues past the $1 billion milestone in for the first time in Sweetwater’s 42-year history.

Caring customer engagement has been key, according to CEO Chuck Surack, who famously started Sweetwater Sound as a mobile recording studio in the back of his VW microbus in 1979. Initially working from home, the company’s sales engineers struggled with how to best contact and communicate with customers, he reports. “I advised them to follow suit with our company’s mission, which is to simply ‘do the right thing’ and call just to ask them how they’re doing. No hidden agendas or sneaky ways to try and push or sell products.”

Noting that 82% of calls with customers are outgoing, Surack adds, “We’re continuing with this frequency and form of communication as it’s been preferred by our customers.” Most of Sweetwater’s 500-plus sales engineers have returned to the company’s campus during the pandemic, where they are following CDC and local government guidelines.

Sweetwater's new 480,000-square-foot distribution center
Sweetwater’s new 480,000-square-foot distribution center

That campus is ever-growing, too. Just prior to the pandemic, Sweetwater opened a new 480,000-square-foot distribution center—four times the size of the previous building—that added 50,000 more square feet for inventory. The company also added 400 new jobs last year, a 30% bump in the total workforce, which now numbers around 2,000.

“We built a brand-new sales floor in November that can house around 1,100 sales engineers,” says Surack, who plans to hire up to 130 new sales engineers. “We also have some expansion plans in the works for our on-campus music store. It will be double the size of the current store and should open late this spring.”

Sweetwater’s annual summer GearFest attracted more than 18,000 people to the campus in 2019. In 2020, in response to the pandemic, the company took the event online. More than 125,000 people participated worldwide, tuning in for 16-plus hours of livestreamed panel sessions and interviews, educational content and, of course, deals and giveaways, during the two-day event.

“We’ll plan to continue offering a virtual component so that we can meet our customers and fans of music where they are,” says Surack. “While there’s nothing like having nearly 20,000 people in-person at our campus in Fort Wayne from all around the world, we still want to allow the opportunity for people to experience GearFest from the comfort of their home if they can’t make it to us. With Covid-19 still a concern, we’re working out the plans and logistics for GearFest 2021; however, we look forward to the future where we can offer both experiences.”

Surack founded Sweetwater Sound in the back of his VW microbus in 1979.
Surack founded Sweetwater Sound in the back of his Volkswagon microbus in 1979.

There has been one constant during the pandemic, says Surack, a former touring sax and keyboard player. “Despite how much of the way we live, work and gather has changed over the last year, especially for the audio community, one thing has remained consistent—music. While many stadiums and concert venues have been empty and will likely stay that way for some time, people will continue to play and make music virtually or from a distance. In 2020, we experienced skyrocketing sales for gear like audio interfaces, microphones, preamps and other devices that allow you to pre-record and put things on YouTube or use for Zoom and live broadcasts. We anticipate that this will remain consistent as more people take up an interest in making music remotely, perhaps for the long haul.”

Hopefully, that love of music will see us through to whatever comes next. “While the industry has definitely not remained unscathed by the pandemic,” he says, “I am confident that music will continue to prevail until the community is able to return to a sense of normalcy.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

NAMM Believe in Music Week Wraps Up

NAMM Believe In Music

Carlsbad, CA (January 27, 2021)—Forced to move online for a virtual event, NAMM turned its annual Winter NAMM Show into Believe in Music week in mid-January, attracting 93,226 attendees from 187 countries for the five-day occasion.

Between Monday, January 18 and Friday, January 22, Believe in Music week hosted 983 special sessions and events for a total of 611 hours of content, 36 of them livestreamed. That included nearly 200 education, training and professional development sessions presented by 391 speakers. The event’s Marketplace hosted 1,227 participating brands.

“The Yamaha team put a ton of effort into bringing our dealers and customers a great experience at Believe in Music week. Our team members met with hundreds of our dealers and many of them noted they were the best meetings they have ever had—either in person or virtual. And tens of thousands of customers dug into the content we presented in our 11 virtual booths,” shared Tom Sumner, President of Yamaha Corporation of America.

Mitch Gallagher of Sweetwater offered “More than a substitute for the traditional trade show, Believe in Music week established a new venue for manufacturers, retailers, press, and music-makers to connect, interact, and learn from one another. A huge success!”

“We’ve been thoroughly impressed with the overall virtual experience of NAMM: Believe in Music week,” said Abby Kaplan, VP of Global Retail Sales at Shure. “While we miss seeing everyone in person, we have still been able to connect with customers, introduce them to our products, and do planning with our channel partners.”

NAMM Show 2021 Replaced by ‘Believe in Music Week’ Online

“Believe in Music week vastly exceeded my expectations, packed with valuable information, education and in-depth product seminars. It truly felt like a global music community connected by this platform that became a social network for the music industry and attendees,” said Chris Tso of Full Compass. “This was a great way for our staff to participate, gain skills we can use today and a powerful way to promote the benefits of making music.”

Alan Macpherson, CEO of L-Acoustics Americas, said, “This year, rising to a new challenge with its Believe in Music week, NAMM proposed a well-thought-out alternative to the in-person show and has accompanied us as we built our show presence. The new format is providing excellent opportunities for interaction with new and existing clients and a platform for us to present our products and services to a wide and varied audience.

For the Audio Production and Technology Track, sessions for recording, live sound, house of worship professionals, and music technologists dove into the landscape of new technology. Programs included TEC Tracks, which offered big-picture sessions and high-profile topics in recording, live sound, and music business, highlighted by interviews with top producers, engineers, and artists, including Dave Cobb, Craig Bauer, John Boylan, Suzanne Ciani and Peter Asher, and live streaming and remote music production tips sessions for house of worship audio professionals.

The Audio Engineering Society presented educational sessions on key topics for audio professionals, including streaming live performances and new music industry business models. In a first, the Event Safety Alliance (ESA) joined the NAMM event. The ESA shared a suite of educational sessions with a roster of academics and industry professionals that explored critical issues within the live event space, including safety in production design, risk management, COVID-19 mitigation planning, and more.

The Believe in Music platform is open to all until February 28, 2021.

NAMM • www.namm.org

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Sweetwater, Music Tribe Now ‘Super Partners’

SweetwaterFT. Wayne, IN (January 20, 2021)—In the wake of its relationship with U.S. distributor Starin ending last fall, Music Tribe, parent company to Behringer, Midas, Turbosound, TC Electronic, TC Helicon, Bugera, Tannoy, Lake, Klark-Teknik, Lab.gruppen and others, has entered into a ‘Super Partner’ arrangement with online MI/pro audio retailer Sweetwater.

Music Tribe has split its offerings into retail (consumer) and enterprise (pro audio) divisions, and will now move all its retail products globally through e-commerce channels.

As a Super Partner, Sweetwater will carry more than 1,000 Music Tribe products, all of which will ship directly from the manufacturer’s China and Malaysia factories directly to Sweetwater’s warehouses. Sweetwater will provide customer support and servicing for the products, and the manufacturer will serve Sweetwater with global support services as well as spare parts supply directly from its factories.

COVID-19 Can’t Stop Pro Audio Retail

As for the enterprise division, Music Tribe CEO Uli Behringer noted, “We’re in the process of setting up dedicated distributors for the install as well as live and tour sound enterprise market who will continue to serve all our valued integrators and contractors.”

Music Tribe has entered into a similar Super Partner arrangement with European online MI retailer Thomann.

“We are truly excited about this wonderful relationship with Sweetwater, while now taking it to a complete new level,” added Music Tribe COO David Hunter. “We’re currently reinventing our whole organization by means of extreme digital transformation and automation of all repetitive processes. Our objective is to become a highly strategic and insight driven organization, and we’re currently investing over US $50m in fully automating our current China operation. This year we acquired 50 acres of land in Malaysia where we’re planning our second manufacturing plant. We’re very proud to have entered into strategic relationships with Microsoft and Siemens around a state-of-the-art 4.0 factory in line with our relentless execution on our Customer and Digital Obsession Vision.

Sweetwater • www.sweetwater.com

Music Tribe • www.musictribe.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com