Soundwide on Wednesday laid off approximately 8% of their employees, across their stable of brands. That means at least one major music technology company follows layoffs in tech and media starting this year.
A source inside the company initially described the cuts to CDM as far-reaching.
Soundwide has responded to confirm the cuts but says there are no changes to product offerings and that customers will be unaffected. In practice, only you customers can say how that will play out. I can say that on an anecdotal level, I’ve talked to workers in other industries where cuts impacted customer support and quality assurance; it’s just hard for cuts not to impact customers.
NI in particular has seen tumultuous recent years as far as its business, which has included major leadership changes (including the exit of co-founder and former CEO Daniel Haver and CIO and President Mate Galic) and deep cuts in teams through a series of restructurings.
That eventually resulted in greater reliance on outside investment and the creation of the Soundwide parent, which came to acquire iZotope, Brainworx, Plugin Alliance, and Sound Stacks. Constantin Koehncke, briefly NI CEO after Haver’s departure, is now at Image-Line, makers of FL Studio; Mark Cattini was briefly CEO at Soundwide; that role is currently filled by Rob Singer. Native Instruments also earlier this year eliminated their physical office in Los Angeles, moving to a remote-only workspace, though the company retains its US presence and team.
The larger context is clearly an economic climate that is translating to job cuts in tech and media industries. We’ve seen large headcount reductions across most of the big tech brands in recent weeks, including Twitter, Meta, Microsoft, and Google. Media is also seeing big cuts – Axios reports cuts from Vox to the parent of MetaCritic to NBC, and the Washington Post is reportedly bracing for impact.
On a personal level, though, my main reason for sharing this news is to let our larger industry and communities know that this talent is available. I’ve certainly been around the musical instruments business long enough to see some downturns (and I’m sure more are coming). But I’ve also gotten to see plenty of people shift positions and find new opportunities and land again. Certainly all my best to any friends and colleagues we’ve worked with who have been impacted.
Epilogue: For a great analysis of what triggers layoffs – and some strong counter-arguments for why they can increase stress and in some cases even hurt profitability – there’s this piece:
The answer: it’s a mixed bag. In the case of Soundwide, we’re also short a lot of the specifics.
This logic obviously doesn’t apply to your indie plug-in developer or local Eurorack shop, some of which are as small as one- or two-person operations. Nor does it reach even larger independent music tech makers, provided they’re independent enough that they aren’t answerable to these kinds of investor concerns. But it applies to a growing share of software and hardware makers trying to improve return per employee.