By the royal decree of her Majesty's Secret Service. Not! What follows doesn't rely on orders from above or secret behind-the-scenes shenanigans. Instead, it is a Manifesto for a proposed alliance of US manufacturers and retailers, writers and reps to take things into their own hands and help to make things better for everyone, by raising public awareness of not individual brands but the HighEnd industry in general. The undersigned hatched the idea and we're publishing it herewith to help spread the word. 6moons will definitely play a part in this, in whatever way the organization determines we can be of best use. Now here goes.

A call to action for the High End Community
So ... are the doomsayers right?

Is high-end audio headed for extinction? Is it true that people no longer respond to high-quality music reproduction?

Not at all.

But it's up to us to prove the doomsayers wrong. And we can. This is an invitation to join "The A5" - The American Association for the Advancement of the Audio Arts. We're setting up as an LLC run by a board of directors. On our own, as individual companies, we can do little to improve public awareness of high-end audio. Working together -- manufacturers, distributors, reps, retailers, reviewers -- we can turn on the public to one of life's great pleasures (and our passion): great music combined with stunning sound.

Things are not so bleak.

  • People are still buying music and listening. Look at the iPod phenomenon and the growth of satellite radio. These listeners are excited about music in their lives. It's up to us to turn more of them on to high-quality music reproduction. It's less of a hard sell than it looks. People are already sold on music! To put it another way, Apple Computer, XM, Sirius and the like are creating potential customers ... for us!
  • Despite a lack of growth in high-end sales, our industry is more innovative than ever before. Take any product category, any price point in specialty audio: the performance of products today is at an all-time high. The Golden Age of Hi-Fi?This is it!

What will the A5 do besides collect your dues?

Well, one thing we won't do is hold an annual awards dinner. The A5 is not about self-congratulatory hype. What we propose to do is real. We aim to act and here are some of the ways:

  • Set up a website that directs visitors to the messages, products, and services of our members.
  • Set up a user group for our members so we can communicate more freely and share ideas.
  • Create the conditions for freer communication among all of us ... and this includes the end user.

Forget unproductive controversies, like the objectivist versus the subjectivist camps. There's room for both. And the truth is, one does not have to exclude the other.

  • Make the buying public aware of the benefits of value-added service. We can prevent high-end from turning into a commodity. Look at the job that luxury car makers do or Swiss watchmakers!
  • Focus our message and get it to the public through whatever means we can muster and ways we can think of.
  • Ads for our industry in upscale magazines like Forbes, Wine Spectator and Architectural Digest, just to name a few. We will advertise in new venues outside of our industry.
  • Run a weekly program on high-end audio for cable television, PBS or a program for public radio.
  • Demonstrations at concert halls, museums, music schools.
  • Regional shows or events at music educator societies, Mercedes & BMW clubs, jazz or folk festivals.

Events at fine restaurants. Have a good meal, meet some interesting people. Hear some great sound. (There are people who never go to shows, who don't like crowds. Let's reach them!)

  • Create a public relations campaign for our industry as a whole - including articles that we could send to newspapers looking for free content. If we are not blatantly trying to promote certain brands (not the goal) this will work!
  • Training programs for sales people. How to do a good two-channel demo. How to demo both home theater and great music, creating more excitement for both!

The initial response to A5 has been gratifying and we are just getting started. We need you in at the start. There's strength in numbers. Power, too.

There's something else in numbers: confidence.

The A5 will give members the confidence that we are (finally) taking matters into our own hands and doing something about the vitality and future of our industry.

We need your support and ideas. If not you, who? If not now, when?

Please email us your thoughts to:

Our Best Regards;
Walter Swanbon
Ted Lindblad
Doug Blackwell
Tom Gillet