The Fairlight legacy and what a small audio company must consider

Just posting up for anyone interested; I’ve recently started a podcast with Dr Neil Hillman (film and television industry veteran with about 1000 IMDB credits to his name). We’ve released our second episode today which is an interview with Philip Belcher, former CEO of Fairlight who facilitated the sale of the company to Blackmagic Design. Philip talks about the considerations that a small audio company has to make around product offeriengs and how it positions itself in the market as well as the legacy of Fairlight and how it went from being a synth company to a major player in audio post-production. (Also a good bit in there about things one has to consider as a sole-trader.)

As we were recording, I could not help but think that there must be some parallels between Fairlight and UDO (or any small audio manufacturer). Philip talks some about what customers think they want and what they actually need and use, feature creep and where the thresholds are in R&D and what can actually be on offer.

Have a listen here: The Apple and Biscuit Show


Fascinating and thanks for sharing this with us

@Nicholas thanks again for this. Had to get used to the hard nosed Australian delivery but I’ve now listened twice to make sure I didn’t miss any pearls of wisdom! Great to hear such discussions

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This is why we have an affable British PhD and a mild mannered American as hosts (though, every time I hear myself on tape after living abroad for 20 years, my American accent sounds so apparent!).

These conversations always open up all the parallel paths of ‘what if?’ If, in the original iteration of Fairlight, the founders hadn’t made certain decisions and persevered, the whole direction of music in the 1980’s would have differed. If Fairlight had been sold to some faceless holdings company instead of Blackmagic, the software might have still been tens of thousands of dollars for a licence and not readily available to so many creative people now.

I thought the whole conversation about funding for R&D, ‘one time’ sales for products vs some manner of ongoing client relationship for services was pertinent. If you build something really well and it will continue to function for decades, where is ongoing income coming from once you’ve satisfied your customer base? Does a company keep growing in other directions, adding staff and increasing opportunity (and risk)? Or, does it keep small and focused on a very specific market. Big ‘what if’ questions.

I’m sure this is all under consideration for UDO; we want to see you around in 20 years so…make the right decisions…no pressure. :slight_smile: