Many areas of professional audio have faced pressure from the global coronavirus outbreak. However, content creation and the home studio market are unique areas of positivity for vendors. This comes thanks to the inherent ability to distribute and create content remotely or from home with minimal social contact. Considering home studio and professional studio/broadcast applications make over 20% of professional audio market revenues, this is good news for the industry.
Regardless of COVID-19, the content creation market has been on the rise in recent years – a topic explored in detail throughout Futuresource’s dedicated research in the area. Online platforms such as SoundCloud, Twitch and YouTube are making it easier than ever for amateur creators to reach their audience. Content creators are spoilt for choice when it comes to high-quality, affordable audio hardware and software, which has made professional quality home recordings a reality for the masses. Not only is this the case for traditional content creation applications such as music production, recording and professional video creation, but also a range of other applications such as podcasting, esports/gaming and vlogging.
Although the opportunity here is already significant, the virus outbreak is expected to bring even more demand in the short term. As a result of lockdown, both demand and supply of online content has risen. As everyone stays at home during lockdown, many are turning to content consumption as the key form of entertainment. At the same time, with restrictions on people leaving their homes, more are taking up content creation as a hobby, secondary/part-time source of income, or to support their existing businesses.
In all of these scenarios, brands have the opportunity to capitalise on increased demand from either new entrants or existing users upgrading their equipment. Many vendors have released products to the content creation space in recent years, and products including USB mics, audio interfaces, studio monitors and headphones are likely to be the key beneficiaries of increased consumer demand during the outbreak. Brands should see this as an important time to promote their products and tailor their marketing strategies for the new captive market. It’s important to note that many new customers/end-users could be converted into longer term purchasers, which will provide trade-up demand for the future of the industry.
However, it’s not just new entrants that will provide demand during this time. Many existing content creation professionals and businesses will be providing demand for content creation equipment over the coming months. Amateur and professional musicians, social media influencers, fitness instructors and video bloggers are just some of the expert content creators which will be looking to improve their reliance on home-produced content over the coming months. Musicians especially, and other creators that are reliant on mass gatherings impacted by the outbreak, will be at the forefront of this trend, eager to supplement their income and outreach during this difficult time.
Such groups will also drive an increased number of small-audience professional broadcasting events at the high end – a reaction to larger event cancellations, which are likely to persist well into the new year.
Professional broadcast and studio applications are expected to retain some positivity from the growth in content consumption. Although cinemas have been shut down and there has been a halt on most production and sports/event broadcasting during lock-down, live and ENG (Electronic News Gathering) applications still show positivity, and professional creators are also purchasing more equipment than ever to facilitate working from home. As employees return to work, broadcast and pro studio are expected to be some of the more resilient verticals for high-end pro audio. The demand for live music recording will see an opportunity for music studios, and increased consumer demand for video content will see the need for ongoing production for TV and film.
Outside of the core content creation markets, there are many other groups turning to content and streaming as tools for engagement. Worldwide, institutions and corporations are substituting lectures, trade shows and other gatherings for online streams and webinars. Universities are gearing up for higher quality and more reliable lecture capture for when lecturers can return to campuses. It is likely that many students will still work remotely for the remainder of the year, and universities will need the equipment to support a significant change in learning styles and long-term culture. Meanwhile, houses of worship are shifting their services online, and a range of businesses and individuals are also leaning on recorded content to promote their businesses, ranging from podcasts to video advertisements.
Although the industry is likely to face some supply-chain challenges over the coming months, and professional applications will suffer production issues with employees in lockdown, for many content creation applications, the coming year is expected to be as positive as any. Some of the growth areas will be temporary, with purchases just being a stopgap for lockdown life. However, many will involve uptake and trade-up amongst valuable long-term end-users. Overall, it is extremely positive to see the amount of people turning to content creation as a form of expression and outreach during this time, with modern professional audio equipment playing a key role in this across a broad range of end-user applications.
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