M-audio, b-bye. A-kai, hell-o. Photo (CC-BY) Ludovico Sinz.

Avid today announced sweeping changes in a changing market. Having gradually accumulated more businesses, the company now is selling many of them off, keeping its flagship video tool and Pro Tools audio products. Gone are the consumer/entry-level divisions – consumer-level Avid and Pinnacle on the video side and M-Audio on the audio side. Instead, Avid says it will be “more focused and agile” and will focus on the pro side of their business.

The key here: most of Avid’s revenue is pro revenue. Combined, the divisions Avid is dumping pulled in just US$91 million of the total US$677 million Avid earned in 2011.

Pinnacle continues its strange ride. The video company that briefly owned Steinberg before selling it to Yamaha is now arriving, with the other consumer desktop and iPad video products, at Corel. (Yes, Corel still makes WordPerfect.)

The bigger news for CDM readers is that the sale of M-Audio will make a consumer giant, as far as selling hardware for computer music makers, particularly at the entry level.

inMusic, parent of Akai Professional, Alesis, and Numark, is buying M-Audio, including “M-Audio brand keyboards, controllers, interfaces, speakers and digital DJ equipment and other product lines.”

It’s likely to confuse some customers, but some of M-Audio’s best-known products will remain with Avid: [formerly] M-Audio Fast Track, along with Avid Mbox, as essential entry-level audio interfaces for Pro Tools, will still be Avid products. That means Avid isn’t entirely turning its back on entry-level customers and bedroom producers; on the contrary, it seems to suggest that these are some of the biggest earners (and, critically, a way of attracting those users to Pro Tools).

But Akai/Alesis/Numark have a lot of products that overlap with the M-Audio line – Numark has competing DJ products, and Akai and Alesis makes competing keyboards and drum pads. We’ll have to see how inMusic harmonizes those product lines.

The numbers, though, are inarguable. The pro market – particularly with Avid’s success in live sound, alongside recording and video production – is still a big revenue source. Now, we get to see if Avid’s new focus translates into a more effective maker.

Of course, since we’re users, not investors, we’ll primarily be watching to see what this means for the tools we use.

Just one request: inMusic, can you make some Midiman t-shirts for those of us with nostalgia? No?

Avid Divests Consumer Businesses and Streamlines Operations [Press Release]

Clarification: Poorly-chosen words implied that the entity that is now Avid began as Digidesign. Digidesign was an Avid acquisition. Note that only last year, however, Avid rebranded its pro line under the name Avid rather than Digidesign, and also dropped or de-emphasized the M-Audio name from many of the now-divested consumer products.

Who’s going, who’s staying: Notably, the Sibelius notation products will evidently remain with Avid. That leaves a significant portion of the business: Media Composer for video, Venue for live sound, Sibelius for notation, Pro Tools, and Pro Tools-related audio interfaces will all continue to be Avid products.

But it’s not just M-Audio hardware that’s leaving. In a separate press release, inMusic announces that it “is the new parent company for a family of premier brands that includes AIR Software Group, Akai Professional, Alesis, Alto Professional, ION Audio, M-Audio, MixMeister, Numark, and Sonivox.” That means that in addition to the M-Audio brand, which apparently will remain, inMusic is acquiring Avid’s software maker. inMusic is a new name, but Jack O’Donnell remains owner and CEO of the entity.

This also means that while Avid is slicing 20% of its workforce, some of those staff will go on to inMusic, who note that AIR “has a number of groundbreaking new products in development, many of which will be showcased and released in the latter half of 2012.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Philippe-Pascal/100003217824975 Philippe Pascal

    I loved the Midiman refrence.
    You know…i still got a MIDISPORT2x2 in front of me :D
    You could have used the EVOLUTION name too ;) (got an MK-225C)

    Avid do a subtle move by keeping entry level Protools interfaces.But i think they will get more troubles than gains.
    Because Protools LE and such will need nearly the same work,support than full ones, but the price is not the same.

    My vision : export “zero start” tracks with all activated (pan,gain,FX,automations…everything) and another batch totally raw (nothing at all, just the audio stems in place).
    And give that to your Protools audio eng.

    If a wet track is good enough, he keep it.
    If not, he use the dry one and rework it from scratch ;)
    And it will work with any DAW.

    Frankly, most musicians don’t need entry level Protools just for project compatibility…especially if they use other plugins than stock ones.
    I don’t even speak about studios using all DAWs and plugins cracked on earth just to open client’s projects ;)

  • Regend

    So who is going to make a new version of the “Flying Cow?” Apogee has that side of their business nailed down pretty good right?

  • Bendish

    Does this mean Avid will bring PT into the 21st Century?

  • markLouis

    I wonder if this is an isolated business event, or will other companies follow?

    Will Adobe streamline?  Will other media companies ditch products/scoop up easy deals?  Will Apple rearrange their software offerings, or bring on-board any?

    Avid is a giant player in the film industry.  If they are hurting in some way, others must be feeling things, too.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I think it’s probably an isolated event. There isn’t any analog to the kind of business Avid is elsewhere in the industry. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some trends to consider in the industry, too, but you’d have a tough time extrapolating them from Avid — just because they do have this particular history of acquisitions and restructuring.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I should be clear, too – I really don’t pretend to be a business reporter. I think it’d be irresponsible to *ignore* that news, but on the other hand, commenting on technology and music production issues does not in any way give you direct insights to all of the details of how the business is run. It just doesn’t. I know that in the larger tech press, there’s a tendency to conflate technology reporting with what’s essentially business reporting. Some people do it quite well. But I’ll be the first to acknowledge the limits of my expertise. My primary concern with this news is to find out what it means for users of the products.

  • Robert Halvarsson

    Remains to be seen what happens after this. I’m mostly conserned about drivers + support for their current customers (own a bunch of M-Audio gear). 

  • George

    One correction in this opening statement: “The company that began as Digidesign today announced sweeping changes in a changing market.”

    Avid began independently of Digidesign. Avid acquired Digidesign.  Avid did not begin as Digidesign. 

    Also, not mentioned in this story, Avid is laying off 20% of it’s workforce, about 360 employees. Nothing lasts forever, but sad to see how truly horrible and out of touch the management that Avid has in place during this downturn, simply read the reviews on GlassDoor.com.  It appears that they have left some go, including COO Kirk Arnold. 

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Sorry, I muddled the opening and wound up missing some words, thus making that opening indeed inaccurate. See correction. 

      I had the misfortune of getting this news from the West Coast USA at the end of the day Berlin time – and PR juggling at Avid also meant that I got no press release and found out after the conference call.

      The key on the staff question:
      “20% of its permanent employee base impacted by the divestitures and headcount reduction plans”

      I’m not sure how much of that is direct headcount reduction, and how much is headcount *at the divested divisions*. But 20% of the staff are *not* in fact losing their jobs, as some of them are going to the newly-created InMusic. From the InMusic press release:

      “M-Audio and the AIR Software Group will dovetail with Akai Professional, Alesis, and 
      Numark in many key areas, including product development, engineering, and 
      distribution”This is also the first I’d heard of the AIR group going over to InMusic. And that’s relevant, as we’ve seen that company invest in in-house development, as on the MPC revisions. In fact, I have to wonder if that isn’t a bit rationale behind this acquisition, as they get into software.I’m not going to make excuses for a fairly quickly-drafted news item on breaking news … that’s my fault. I’ll instead try to research what’s happening on the InMusic side, as that at the moment is interesting. It’s definitely unhappy news in terms of what’s happened at Avid; now we’ll see if the reshaped company does better.

  • coolout

    As a “avid” user of M-Audio’s Torq, I now understand why development has been a little quiet in the past year.

    • Info-Warfare

      The product manager/designer that created Torq has been at Native Instruments for the past two years working on the new Traktor Kontrol F1. Don’t except updates to Torq…

    • Scalawag

      Sort of….. He has been at NI but they updated Torq to version 2 without him. The AIR team was responsible for version 2, and guess what, the same AIR team was also sold to inMusic!!!!

  • Info-Warfare

    Had to put my 2 cents in as this is sickening the way Avid destroyed M-Audio; I worked for M-Audio when they transitioned from MidiMan to M-Audio and then when Avid came in and bought them. Avid (a video editing company) first bought Digidesign to get into the Pro-Audio Market, but when they saw there was more money coming in from the Prosumer/Consumer audio market, they bought M-Audio and then began to dismantle it for some reason. I left in 2006. By 2010-11 everyone else at M-Audio was laid-off, so there is no M-Audio except in name. What Avid just sold was the name and the legacy products which I’m sure inMusic will just absorb into their on line(s) but there are no longer product developers at M-Audio, they’ve all moved on to Ableton, Native Instruments, Presonus, Line 6 and others (I know because I am still in contact with them all.) Such a shame…

    • Regend

      i had two friends who worked for M-Audio tech support. i was going to join the ranks. i really wanted to beta test and help improve TORQ and other DJ related products as well as provide tech support. i decided to look elsewhere because of the merger. TORQ had a lot of potential. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/jim.child Jim Child

       In a twisted way your timeline explanation re M-Audio under Avid makes me feel better. I had recently purchased an Axiom 25 keyboard controller and had submitted a customer service/info ticket. After submitting four requests AND waiting 3 days I finally received a curt, semi-informative response, I thought I must have said something to offend, or that my question was too stupid to warrant anyone’s attention.

      I now realize the Avid folks prob had to wait for the ONE guy who knew anything about their keyboard controllers to come in and respond to me.

      I am hopeful that M-Audio customer support under Akai will be better than is current,

  • InfoWarfare

    Had to put my 2 cents in as this is sickening the way Avid destroyed M-Audio; I worked for M-Audio when they transitioned from MidiMan to M-Audio and then when Avid came in and bought them. Avid (a video editing company) first bought Digidesign to get into the Pro-Audio Market, but when they saw there was more money coming in from the Prosumer/Consumer audio market, they bought M-Audio and then began to dismantle it for some reason. I left in 2006. By 2010-11 everyone else at M-Audio was laid-off, so there is no M-Audio except in name. What Avid just sold was the name and the legacy products which I’m sure inMusic will just absorb into their on line(s) but there are no longer product developers at M-Audio, they’ve all moved on to Ableton, Native Instruments, Presonus, Line 6 and others (I know because I am still in contact with them all.) Such a shame…

    (sorry for the double post, login just got sorted.)

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      True. It seems in the meantime the teams at Akai/Alesis/Numark have grown. I’m equally concerned about support – that’s almost the subject of another post, and I was pondering that this morning. At this point, though, it seems the support questions really belog to inMusic more than Avid.

    • InfoWarfare

      M-Audio actually use to have very good support since they were all actual musicians who worked with the products everyday (it’s where I started and I know you know some of the people who worked for M-audio Support; LE, SN, et al) we even had customers of competing products call our support, but in 2009 or 2010 they had let go the entire support department from the Irwindale office and moved (at least phone support) to a non M-Audio employed, generic call center in Singapore. Singapore! To people that were just reading a script and had no clue what a MIDI controller evan was! So maybe InMusic will at least bring back the support; but they will need to learn all of the M-Audio product line… 

  • Ronaldjstewart

    geez peter thanks for reporting the news… for a guy who is long winded and has a big mouth once again you fail to comment on the facts.  the fact is if this was a small company you would throw your negative 2 cents is killing the company but because its avid you dont state the FACTS.
    the fact is digidesign was purchased in the 90′s for 800 million (YEAH DUDE I WAS THERE) and now the entire companys market value is under 300 million.  the fact is if this company has screwed up over and over again for 20 years and if this was the Chicago Cubs the entire management would be fired because they have done nothing less but drive the company is the ground while NEVER finishing above .500 and NEVER making the playoffs.  BUT you would never comment on the absolute poor management of the company, in fact your BIG news on YOUR blog is the silebus app for ipad which Corel was suckered into buying.  Your FLAWS are only matched my Avid POOR incompetence!
    I can hear Donald Trump screaming “you’re fired”…. geez for Christ sakes take a side against the BIG BOYS like you do against SMALL FRYS and grow some balls… unless you’re in bed with these guys GET REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I mean c’mom Avid had 7 years to respond to the mobile music game which Steve and the boys dominated in less time (from the grave NOW Peter!) and Avid NEVER did anything AND still have not updated their LAME UI since 1990 and you still give them PRIME TIME COVERAGE… YOU’RE THE PROBLEM and your readers need to know the truth.  Oh yeah you cant hear me cuz you’re on some LAME CD music tour in Europe stroking yourself and your EGO!!!!
    Stop defrrauding your readers like Avid does its customers and investors.  Did you even comment on the 20 percent job reduction that caused the stock price to go up today 5.52%.
    No way… like Biggie said “but you don’t hear me tho”
    think about it a dead guy does better than you or Avid… what a joke
    Just stop it and grow up.
    Love Ronald Stewart Indamixx.

    • markLouis

      >Oh yeah you cant hear me cuz you’re on some LAME CD music tour in Europe stroking yourself and your EGO!!!!  Stop defrrauding your readers like Avid does its customers and investors

      Maybe PK is a bit of a hipster, but how does he “defrraud” his readers?  I didn’t pay anything to check-in here.  And I’ve gotten a lot of cool information and entertainment value from here.  When you adjust for scale and costs and such, PK does more for his readers than even Apple does.

      Just sayin’.

    • KarlPopper

      Really, blaming PK for Avid’s business practices?  I don’t get it.  Please organize your vitrol.  It obfuscates your point.    

  • Geoffsvault

    GOD DAMN IT so close to a software MPC and now they are selling AKAI, I hope this doesn’t ruin the new MPC line which look brilliant.
    GEoff

    • Scalawag

      Who is selling AKAI?!???!? Read again! :)

    • Regend

      the software version of the MPC, the MPC FLY, isn’t made by Akai. it’s made by Retronyms http://www.retronyms.com/ it’s really great music production software as well. you’ll have to wait until Roger Linn decides to release something.

  • Seablade

    Peter you might really want to rephrase this…

     ”…particularly with Avid’s dominance in live sound…”

    Avid is nowhere near dominant in live sound(Especially not when compared to the studio).  They are a competitor yes, but honestly there is a large variety of digital consoles you will see out there in the market range they operate in, from A&H, DigiCo, Yamaha, Soundcraft, etc.  Not to say Venue’s aren’t necessarily popular, but I am not sure I would go even as far as to say they have a majority of the market either, much less dominance.

            Seablade

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      “success” rather than “dominance” — agreed. 

  • Zer0Sum

    There is a sad precedence of this happening in the US. It happened to Moog, It happened to Fender too.

    Anything that successfully opens up a new market in the music creation space is bought and then successfully destroyed.

    Still they had to try to sell something at some point. When you are loosing more than $8 million a month and tell your investors that your company has assets of $450 million in “Good Faith” while being almost $1 billion in the hole you have a serious problem to deal with at some point. Printing money only goes so far for so long.

  • Nihilist

    you youngins might not remember Opcode systems. but they invented the DAW and were among the first to have a complete DAW system on the old mac512 toasters. great software and hardware for the time, then GIBSON bought out opcode, and within one year opcode was dead.  avid is deep in debt, and i would have a hard time justifying 100k into a HD/ Icon system. the problem is, Protools is so intrenched in the pro studio scene, not just music, but audio post. 95% of the studio i work for , is PT only. major hollywood studios.  once in a while guys bring in logic or nuendo…. the writing is on the wall for avid…. the big question is, what DAW at this point would be as stable? i have toyed with reaper, and it is maturing, but at this point all my workstations will stay as is…. sorry avid, my 5 music production stations are running PT 8.5 and winXP….. the HD are running on mac os and we will stay with this hardware until we feel that our ROI on new avid stuff is justified.

    • InfoWarfare

      I use to sell Opcode Systems software in a local music store in Los Angeles, back before Gibson bought them. Those were the days… 

    • http://twitter.com/strgztwit Sturg

      >>> avid is deep in debt

      No they are not. Read the 10-K. Avid has 49 MIllion in cash – and NO debt. Not that I am a cheer leader because I remember when they had 800 million. Those were better days for the company. Like you I DO have a vested interest in watching Avid become successful and maintain leadership in their stronger market. I work in the industry, have for 17 years, and I don’t want to find another career. Buy their products so I can feed my kids. Thanks in advance. :)

    • Nihilist

      i have 5 le systems and 3 TDM/HD we also have a large format icon, and all the other avid post gear. we also have a post video room with avid.  avid spent way too much to acquire some of these companies they sold at a huge loss. the cash on had and this quarter will not show the debt load that is going to kill them.  this is how vulture capitalists work, like rMoney… they take healthy companies, use the good rating of that corp, and debt load it, pay their execs and stock holders huge dividends, and then the debt load shows up and the co. goes under…. avid might hold on, and there is no other high end choice at this time, sorry logic dont make it, and nuendo is buggy. so we will all watch with wonder as avid shrinks, and the power of these new cpus take over from the need to have a huge HD setup for 128 tracks.  

  • Seba

    Mbox, despite the “M”, was never part of the M-Audio line. It was always part of the ‘Pro’ LE line.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Right, because if I remember my history correctly, Mbox predated the M-Audio acquisition.

      It is, however, competitive in a “consumer”-grade market – at least based on the characterization here of M-Audio.

  • Inspector Polyoff

    B4 M-Audio, MidiMan products were all guaranteed “for life”… Guess that life is over 8-{
    I still have a lot of their products as well as Digi’s – though I haven’t run any Opcode software for a long time (he he).
    I am disappointed in Avid’s handling of Sibelius as well — since that product should be integrated into ProTools more than just displaying notes on a staff.
    I’m a sucker for upgrading ProTools… but feel like I have little choice to keep up with the new file formats 

  • iJest

    “Having gradually accumulated more businesses, the company now is selling many of them off, keeping…” I wonder, is their much heralded virtual instrument, Romneysphere, still forthcoming?

  • http://twitter.com/Omnispherical QuBe

    “…pulled in just $91 million dollars….”
     And their selling it??
    Maybe it’s good that M-Audio finds new owners…if that’s evidence of Avid’s business management sensibilities.

  • Keveeee2000

    Does anyone know where I can find information on how many digital interfaces are being sold every year? What the “Non-pro” market is? I’d like to find out how many and how fast the industry is growing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dominicplaza Dominic Plaza

    Since inMusic bought M-Audio from AVID there have been ongoing problems with the working drivers to different products such as ProFire2626. Since OSX 10.8.1 M-Audio failed to deliver working drivers and pissed off hundreds of users. Just to mention OSX 10.8.2 was released on the market for over 6 months ago from today which tells a lot about the troubled situation inMusic and M-Audio created. This is ongoing problem and its seems like there is not a solution in sight. For more info check the thread on Facebook and M-Audio support site.

  • Mike MacDougall

    I know I’m chiming in late, but Avid had THE WORST customer support in the industry, not that Digidesign was much better… unless you shelled for the most expensive hi-end products from them, you didn’t exist… they answered no questions, period. Completely useless. This and their recent behavior ditching their acquisitions so shortly after juggling so many peoples lives really exposes them for the greedy, spoiled brat elitists that they are. I’d like the see the entire company go up in flames. They’ve done nothing for me but slow me down as a musician as I fight an avalanche of ridiculous bugs in their software… alone, with no support… all other DAW software was working like a champ, but not pro tools… no way… too good for my generic 8 core i7 with 16GB of ram… they needed a namebrand attached to it so they could get paid more on the back end. Really really horrible company. I was sad to see M-Audio join them and I’m happy to see them get out alive before the 30 year ego trip that was pro tools comes to a total crash.

    Incidentally, as soon as you learn a labyrinth of unexplained little hoops to jump through when you open a file, the software works OK, for a few minutes at a time, sort of… so fuck you guys, you didn’t win! I’m still making music despite your crap.