Spotlight On… Evan Groom, Product Manager at Audio-Technica.
What you do as Product Manager at Audio-Technica?
“So my role is to work closely with our engineering team that are headquartered in Japan, and I regularly communicate with them about different customer and market requirements…I’m also responsible for every aspect of taking a product from an idea to something that can be sold, whether it’s hardware or software. That includes writing product definitions, doing market studies, understanding the competitive landscape, pricing, all the way down to silly little things like assigning barcodes to products and little things like how stickers should be put on the box.”
But you didn’t start in that position. You worked your way up. Could you tell us about that?
“I’ve worked in our shipping department, our production department, which is assembly-line type stuff, packaging, putting labels on things. From there I moved to our Audio Solutions Department for some time, actually working in Audio Solutions and Shipping, doing half a week in each department. In Audio Solutions I was working with end users and dealers just answering pretty much any audio-related question. From there that’s when I went up and moved into the product roles. So I’ve kind of been all over the building, which is really cool. It gives me a good insight to the whole process.”
We’ve noticed there’s a lot of promotion from within and communication between departments at A-T. Do you think Audio-Technica’s success has something to do with that?
“Oh, totally. I mean, the more unified you are internally, the more clear your message is going to be when you market your product. Everybody’s on the same page, all the way from our marketing message down to the customers calling-in and Audio Solutions knowing how to answer questions. Internal communication is a super important part of all that.”
So what gear would you recommend for people looking to set up their own home studio on a budget?
“If you’re just starting out and you don’t know much about audio engineering at all, you’re not really going to be able to get as much out of a super-expensive microphone as you would if you had many years of experience under your belt. [For them] like to recommend they take a look at our 20 series microphones. It’s our entry-level studio recording, content creation type of microphones that have a large diaphragm condenser.
If you’ve ever seen someone gaming or live-streaming a game or a YouTuber, you’ve seen a 20 series microphone. They’re really popular. Specifically the AT2020 and AT2035…They’re very versatile and can really just be used on anything: voice, guitar. I’ve even seen people use a pair of them for drum overheads…They’re really solid, really affordable. The AT2020 is a side-address condenser microphone for $99.
Once you’re ready to upgrade out of that, I’d recommend the 40 series. The 40 series is the next step up from the 20 series, and it’s a little bit more of a professional studio mic with higher quality capsule electronics. If you’re looking to get into the 40 series, the AT4040 is the entrance to this product line. It’s good on a ton of different applications, and it’s one of my go-to mics in my home studio. I use the 4040 on literally everything.”
What, personally, do you geek out on?
“Videogames, especially the music behind them. I listen to videogame soundtracks at work a lot, and think the audio experience is a really important aspect of gaming. And that’s something cool that I never even thought of even when I went into my degree in audio engineering. I never even thought, ‘Oh, I could potentially do videogame music.’ So yeah, that’s kind of what I geek out on. I’m a nerd.”
That’s great. Is video game music actually something the gaming companies invest in?
“Big money. Some videogame brands even hire out real musicians and they do real recordings. It’s not like something produced in a lab. There’s really intricate music. You should check it out. It’s really cool.”
Hmmm. So that’s one field for our students and grads to consider. What are some other kinds of audio jobs out there?
“I feel like the dream when you go to get your degree in audio engineering is to either work for or own your own recording studio, or to mix front of house for huge bands in stadiums, or make beats and make a lot of money selling beats. But I would say, don’t assume that the audio and music industry is only that. There are so many other pockets of this industry that I didn’t even know existed even when I was going to school for audio engineering. I mean, I never in a million years would have thought I would be doing product management for audio, but it’s been great… Just research what else is out there, because there’s a ton in this industry. It’s not just recording music and all that type of stuff. The commercial audio industry is a humongous market right now, and I’m talking about microphones and sound reinforcement for businesses or courtroom applications. Things like networked audio…commercial audio, there’s broadcast. You could get into video and broadcast, you could start your own podcast. That’s a huge thing now. Creating videogame music. I mean, there’s so much stuff that you can do.”