In all sorts of places such as forums and media platforms, as well as in videos, people who play a role in the audio industry are voicing their concerns about the future. The big question is: is the HiFi industry going down in flames?
In that perceived demise, many believe market power plays a major role. Can anything be done about that? And, more importantly at this point, can we consumers do something about it? We certainly can, we can play a role in organizing countervailing power, but it also requires something of us. We have to be willing to do that!
It is often about playing off market power. Market power can be detrimental to consumers. It can lead to price driving or non-relevant, “easy” innovations and would then result in a less vital industry with high prices. Well, that’s how we think it works.
That market power in the HiFi industry seems to lie primarily with the investors, large manufacturers and importers, not the media, small manufacturers, retailers and consumers.
In many of these discussions, there is mainly a case of signaling the issue warning and raising issues. Usually the authors do not get around to outlining directions for solutions and the role consumers can play in them. At this point, let’s address precisely that.
Alpha-Audio on market power.
Opinion pieces on this topic have also appeared on Alpha-Audio:
- Yung Lie in “The 13th note quits“.
Here the main focus is on freerider-like phenomena where manufacturers want to take advantage of the fact that the HiFi media need them, including to provide equipment for testing. Manufacturers try to exploit this power so that they can appear in publications on HiFi media at low cost or even for free.
- Jaap Veenstra in “My love-hate relationship with online publishing in the audio industry.”
This video is mainly about the way some manufacturers put undue pressure to not get negative reviews and preferably positive ones. In doing so, they use their power. After all, although Alpha-Audio does not get paid for reviews, it does depend largely on advertising revenue and on the willingness of manufacturers to make equipment available for reviews.
- Jaap Veenstra in “I worry about the future of the hi-fi industry“.
In it, he addresses the movement toward ever larger conglomerates and the increasing input from purely financially interested parties. As a result, the quality aspect and innovation are becoming less and less important, according to Veenstra.
It is easier, for example, to release a new model of an amplifier every year after marginal changes than to invest in the risky development of new technology. Such a move can mask stagnation or even decline. Veenstra points out that purely financial motives suppress the pursuit of quality.
In this piece, Jaap wonders what the solution is. He is obviously no economist, but at least he thinks that the small quality-oriented producers should not allow themselves to be bought up by large corporations and should remain independent. That requires greater financial muscle among those small producers. That’s why Jaap asks us consumers to support those “Audio Mohicans”.