The Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention is one of the largest gathering of audio professionals in the world. With workshops, tutorials, and the expansive trade show floor, the convention provides attendees with a wealth of learning, networking and business opportunities.
We had the chance to interview Graham Kirk, Director of Sales and Marketing for AES, about a number of topics including his biggest challenges, most memorable experiences, as well as providing us with helpful advice for first time attendees and exhibitors at AES. Read on for the full interview.
AES is growing in attendance every year and has been successful at creating workshops, tutorial programs and partnering with top audio equipment companies on exhibiting their latest products. What inspired you to pursue this trade show?
Inspiration and education have been at the forefront of what the AES aim to provide at all of it's events. Whether it be technology, application or user experiences, working together with the leading manufacturers, establishing the "standards" (AES3 (2 channel digital audio), AES10 (MADI), AES14 (analog XLR pin-out) & AES67 (audio over IP)) is how the industry has moved forward. We have ensured recently that this has been easier to access, by providing a bite-sized format on our inspiration stages on the exhibit floor and new events.
I came into this industry with a history of playing in bands and a passion for music and pro audio. Having this gave me an insight and understanding of products and manufacturer objectives. It also gives me an appreciation of what the AES membership contributes to the industry and its future.
Historically, what were 2-3 of your biggest technical and operational challenges?
This is easy. Being able to provide a great event, with more to see and participate in, whilst keeping it cost effective for everyone. Introducing new innovative and relevant stages, pavilions and events are very important for the future.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge as well as the biggest opportunities in our industry in the next 3-4 years?
Keeping up with trends and technology is always difficult. Working together with manufacturers and talking to attendees is the only way to look to the future and anticipate what everyone's needs are. That is our focus.
What is your favorite highlight, memorable conversation or interaction have you had over the years at AES?
I have memorable conversations and interactions at all our events! I can't possibly tell you most of them, but I love talking to manufacturers & distributors, most of whom I consider friends. This feels like a family and we all want the same result.
A highlight has to be spending time with one of my heroes, Stevie Wonder. We've had some great laughs and he has shared some great inspirational moments. Something I will never forget.
What insight would you share with first-time exhibitors or first-time attendees?
First time exhibitors - There are no "dumb questions". Keep it simple, keep your message and display clear and welcoming and very focused on who you want to engage with. First time (and veteran) exhibitors should contact the AES marketing team, who have a host of tools that can maximize their show experience and help drive traffic to their booth.
First time attendees - This is the ultimate audio networking event. You will have access to the leading manufacturers, developers, educators, managers, engineers, producers and students from all aspects that have anything to do with audio. At AES New York this year you will find sessions on Live Sound, Broadway, House of Worship, Electronic Dance Music, Broadcast, film/TV/streaming, studio and home recording and so much more. You are going to have a ball! Invite your friends!
Sales and marketing professional Graham Kirk's multifaceted job history has ranged from fish monger to newspaper and magazine publisher. That backdrop, and his musician's perspective, helped facilitate his extensive experience in the professional audio trade press. Working internationally with industry manufacturers and building an extensive contact network in turn provided the perfect springboard to his current position as Director of Sales & Marketing for the Audio Engineering Society. Relocated from his native England to the United States, he's currently perfecting a southern drawl from his home outside Nashville. Oh, did we mention he's got a cheese certificate?