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Trading Nation T

he Dutch are unique people when it comes to languages. Almost 90%

speak English, and most people know their way around in German and French as well. T roughout history, the Netherlands has been an internationally focused country, and the Dutch are always expanding trades. While they are aware of the small size of their country, they see themselves as the gateway to Europe, and this remains the case when it comes to the pro-audio industry.


Like everything, the live industry is aff ected by the economic situation. “A lot of small festivals don’t exist anymore due to fi nancial problems,” says audio engineer Colin Pool. “Also, in the past you’d be asked for a gig about a month in advance, now you’re approached very late, sometimes only a week before the show.” Holland has got quite a few popular bands and artists that play at festivals. T ere are even festivals where only Dutch bands perform. Previous success stories include Dope D.O.D, Jacco Gardener, Skip & Die, and more recently Taymir, who after playing their fi rst ever gig in the UK, bagged themselves a deal with one of

12 August/September 2014

the top booking agents T e Agency Group. Bigger international artists will also be seen on many festival lineups in the Netherlands. For example, the Rolling Stones played at Pinkpop in June.

Pool reveals good sound is very important: “In the last couple of years a lot of venues invested in new equipment and foreign engineers talk a lot about the good situation here in Holland. Plus, Dutch people complain a lot, so when the sound isn’t good, they will tell you right away. I think in the future the decibel regulations will be increasingly important so system design and system engineering will be more important than ever.” Over the past few years there has been a big change in volume restrictions. At outdoor festivals the maximum decibel levels are signifi cantly lower than before. Now almost every festival has an external company that is monitoring the volume levels. T e company co-operates closely with the system engineer to retain the volume level but not let it aff ect the sound quality and experience of the audience. “Because of regulations and so on, the sound limits, which are imposed by local communities, have decreased in the past 10 years,” says


T e market for studios in the Netherlands is largely healthy. T e dubbing market is saturated but stable, with a good number of dubbing companies, and a healthy amount of work. Patrick Ulenberg, MD at dubbing specialist Creative Sounds, has noticed it is always hard work to get the attention of video production companies. “Many video production companies take care of their own audio chapter in post production,” he says. “T is often results in audio being supportive to the picture, instead of being the enrichment it is supposed to be.”

Jake Young fi nds that the Dutch pro-audio industry is very versatile for a small country.

Seth Mook, head of technology at Amsterdam festival Uitmarkt. “Some audiences are saying that there is no feel anymore. On the other hand I also hear audiences saying that it is so much better now since the concerts are not so loud anymore.” On the technology side, DiGiCo and Midas digital systems are seen more and more. “Almost every big Dutch band is touring with DiGiCo, because the largest rental companies in Holland are using those,” says Pool. “A lot of smaller venues are purchasing Midas PRO2s. At the bigger festivals and venues you still see Heritage and XL series’.”

T e niche dubbing market has gone through quite a change in the past couple of years. “Budgets went down, costs went up,” says Ulenberg. “Studios in general are challenged to discover diff erent ways of working to match the available budgets. Nowadays video and audio is instantly synced, so turnaround of a project has increased tremendously, for instance.” T e internationalisation of dubbing services has caused local studios to grow. Ulenberg: “A couple of years ago the dubbing market was a local market. We only served the Dutch/ Flemish-language territory. But due to large international, multilingual media companies entering this local market, most studios were challenged to deliver more language versions for the same production, in order to secure their position.” Kloaq, a two-studio audio production company located in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, has made quite an eff ort to keep afl oat. “With the installment of the latest government in the Netherlands there has been a huge cutback in subsidy money for all sorts of cultural institutions,” says co-founder Adrian Vrijhoef. “T at has an eff ect on every musician, studio, and technician working in the industry, which leads to more pressure on the market.” 

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