July 2009

Going Beyond Borders, Expanding What We Do

My recent trip to the High End 2009 show in Munich, Germany, reminded me of some of the reasons we founded SoundStage! back in 1995, and inspired me to do things we still haven’t done. You could call it a refresher course that also served as a catalyst for new ideas.

One thing High End 2009 reminded me of is the global nature of the SoundStage! Network, something I was well aware of when we began. Back then, the World Wide Web presented new opportunities to anyone who wanted to reach the world in an instant -- start up a website and you’re suddenly accessible to anyone anywhere who could get online. It was revolutionary, something no one had ever before seen. That inherent advantage of the Web -- global reach -- is why I dove headfirst into online publishing and have stuck with it.

But being global and acting global are different things. You can start a website and be in touch with the world, but if the site is regional in terms of the information it provides, then even if you’re accessible to anyone on the planet, few outside your area will care. To have a true global presence, the content must not only be accessible, it must be relevant to the rest of the world.

Seeing the international flavor of the Munich event made me realize all over again that for any modern-day audio magazine to flourish, it must act globally. However, that’s not to say that we haven’t already been working this way -- for years, we’ve been traveling overseas to attend events such as High End, to visit companies around the world, and report on what we find. This year’s Munich show made me realize that we must do even more of it.

There are other things we have to improve. One criticism of SoundStage! that I’ve heard in recent years and have taken to heart is that our content, particularly our product reviews, can at times focus on too few companies. There have been times when we’ve reviewed nearly the entire product line of some companies while reporting on nothing at all from others. I’m not talking about products made by companies based outside North America; I’m talking about this happening with U.S. and Canadian audio manufacturers. The international flavor of the Munich event not only reinforced to me the global role we must assume, but also how many companies out there are of interest to readers and deserve coverage.

That’s why, this month, you’ll see some changes in SoundStage! that began with that trip to Germany. One thing has to do with the running of SoundStage! itself. Marc Mickelson, our editor for some 13 years, resigned his position on June 1 in order to pursue other opportunities. Marc’s contributions will surely be missed. His education in English and literature supported him in setting a high standard of quality in the writing that appears here, and helped us establish a benchmark for what an online publication should be. It’s this commitment to quality that we must carry on.

But because of this change, it was the perfect time to shift some things around, given our current goals. From now forward, I will be running SoundStage! Under my direction you’ll see a broader array of products reviewed, both from within our borders and from around the world. You’ll also see us taking more trips to cover events and visit companies. My goal is that, in the next year, we’re no longer thought of as a North American publication, but as an international one that knows no borders. When we succeed, we’ll be the only global audio publication on the planet.

I’ve been running the SoundStage! Network for almost 14 years now and have yet to tire of it. It’s not only interesting for me to remember why and how we started and where we came from, but also to think about what we’ve been doing and where we need to go. Most of all, I’m excited to know how much more we can do -- what I’ve outlined here is only the beginning. My never-ending quest is to make SoundStage! the best audio publication out there, and the entire SoundStage! Network the undisputed publishing leader of the specialty audio and video industries.

. . . Doug Schneider