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Your 1st rock concert? Alison Stieven-Taylor at the NPA

Tuesday, 24 April 2012
By Print21 Archive
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The National Print Awards (NPAs) was back in Melbourne this year at Crown Casino. With helium filled gold star-shaped balloons, John Farnham belting out Playing to Win (not live) and TV host Julia Zemiro (she was live) as MC, I could have been at the Logies, which were held in the same room earlier this month, save for the sea of black suits and the lack of sequins and high heels.

Zemiro relied on her Rock Wiz banter to keep things moving asking presenters and winners alike what their first concert was – and of those she didn’t ask many were happy to share their rock concert stories whispering in her ear as they went past to collect their awards. Or maybe they were telling her their marital status? She did ask a few including a very bemused John Wanless, President of the NPAs, if they were single.

While there was much backslapping and bonhomie, and a lot of laughter at the revelation of some first concerts – Depeche Mode and the Bay City Rollers among them – this year the NPAs gave off an air of fatigue that may be a product of the hammering the industry has taken by the digital revolution and the GFC. A steady diet of doom and gloom and recognition that the sand many chose to stick their heads in was in fact quicksand, has contributed to collective exhaustion.

Wanless, whose first concert by-the-way was Ian Dury & the Blockheads, referenced the music industry as one that has survived massive changes transitioning from vinyl and cassettes to CDs and downloads. It is a good comparison, however, the music industry is not buoyant, and today there are fewer players in the market, attrition that continues as more bands release their own materials and by-pass the record companies altogether. The positive here is that more music is being made than ever and where there’s creation there is opportunity to sell services.

Simon Lane, from Fuji Xerox, who this year has joined Heidelberg and Currie Group as the main sponsors of the NPAs, said in 2012 there will be a 100 million tablets in the US alone. “The industry is changing, you know it and I know it. I won’t tell you digital print is the future, but it is a device. The business still needs to change. In an online, mobile connected society relevance is the key…”

Not taking away from the truth of his words, we’ve heard this all before. Change isn’t coming it’s well and truly here. It’s no longer just about what kit you’re operating. It’s about services, value adds and enhanced waffle – one salient point Lane made is that print sales people are not as professional as the people they are selling to.

On Friday night the 450 strong crowd was remarkably decorous. Zemiro actually had to urge them to applaud, something I haven’t witnessed before, and there were only a few occasions when she pulled the schoolteacher routine with “eyes to me”. But the excitement that has been evident in past years was missing. Perhaps suppliers, and their customers, are more burdened by the thought of drupa, which is just around the corner. Certainly there has been much made of this drupa as a ‘make or break’ show.

Alastair Hadley, who stood in for Andy Vels Jensen, gave the Heidelberg speech. Hadley will retire this year after a lifetime in the industry. Known for his irreverent manner, and quick wit, he quipped that in the future if printers become an endangered species then Sir David Attenborough could be invited to host the Awards.  Has anyone checked Attenborough’s diary?

One Response to “Your 1st rock concert? Alison Stieven-Taylor at the NPA”

  1. April 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm,

    Andy McCourt

    Ali – great thought-provoking article. My first rock concert was Jethro Tull. The lead singer, also a flautist, was Ian Anderson and he would stand on one leg and play his flute; pure entertainment. Their signature hit of course, was ‘Living in the Past.’ hook line:
    “We won’t give in – We’ll keep living in the past.”

    Message – there is a future for print, so long as we stop living in the past!

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