NUGEN CEO Paul Tapper takes us through the history of the company, explains how best to sell its products and offers his outlook for the future.
This month, we reached out to a new contact in Leeds, UK: Paul Tapper, CEO of NUGEN Audio. In this conversation, Tapper provides lots of information about the company’s loudness metering/correction,
surround audio, mixing/mastering, tracking and audio analysis tools, and much more.
The Music & Sound Retailer: Please take us through your background and why you co-founded NUGEN Audio in 2004. What needs were you trying to meet for musicians and the music industry?
Paul Tapper: I co-founded NUGEN Audio with the objective of consistently providing exceptional quality and innovative solutions, coupled with practical problemsolving and reliable customer service. This mission has driven NUGEN to become an industry standard in the audio post-production world, and we have no doubt that this will help the company continue to grow in the music industry.
In fact, NUGEN Audio’s first plugin was created as a way to help out a musical artist friend who was looking for a software solution that would effectively enable him to cut a track to vinyl. He had initially been told “no” by a local mastering studio, due to a stereo problem in the bass on the track. So, leveraging my years of experience as a lead programmer, a music producer friend and I developed a software plugin that would provide musically pleasing correction to the damaged audio. After some work on the design and user interface, NUGEN Audio’s first plugin was released. This was soon followed by more stereo-image related solutions, and then plugins exploring methods of applying mathematics to music and audio in general.
Today, NUGEN’s tools cover audio analysis, loudness metering, mixing/mastering, and tracking for the global broadcast, post-production, and music production markets.
The Retailer: What changes have you seen in the industry in the past 16 years, and how have you adjusted?
Tapper: Since NUGEN’s founding, digital audio production technology has matured and become more ubiquitous. There has been an increased need for systems, tools and companies that enable and support the adoption of new processes. For example, the introduction of loudness normalization in broadcast audio, and now in music streaming services, is a response to the over-use of compression and limiting techniques that were beginning to damage the audio to which they were applied. As another example, the increased complexity and variety of the technology used in audio production requires users to rely more heavily on good documentation, reliable tools and good technical support. It might not sound very exciting, but it’s hard to be creative if your tools keep crashing, or you don’t know how they work.
The Retailer: How is the market for your products right now? Is a possible decline in professional mixing/mastering being counteracted by stay-at-home users of your product?
Tapper: We have been very lucky at NUGEN Audio that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not seen a reduction in demand for our products. If anything, there has been a slight increase. I think that many of our customers are already used to having to work in a flexible and agile way. Thus, they have adapted to the evolving situation and found a way to keep producing great audio. Fortunately for us, they’ve continued buying our products to help them achieve this.
The Retailer: You sell plugins directly to consumers as well as in the form of products that MI retailers can sell. With this said, how do you ensure a great relationship with MI retailers?
Tapper: Roughly half of our revenue comes through direct sales via our web shop, and the other half through retailers. So, building great relationships with our reseller network is essential to our business. We find that the retailers who are most successful with our products are the ones who provide added value through their relationships with their customers. This might mean that their customer base trusts them to make recommendations, or that they offer exceptional post-sales support. We always try to do whatever we can to help those resellers deepen their customer relationships by providing them with training on our products and marketing information prior to promotions and product changes. We have a great level of respect for the relationships they have with their customers.
The Retailer: Any advice or best practices you can provide for retailers when selling your products?
Tapper: Our products are aimed at the higher end of the audio plugin market, which means that they can be a little pricier than others. However, we aim for quality over quantity, so you certainly get what you pay for with NUGEN. Our quality is further exemplified by the fact that we invest time with customers to ensure that the purchase is the best for them. We have found that this approach works best for our retailers, too.
The Retailer: Please tell us about some of your current MI product offerings and what makes them cool.
Tapper: The NUGEN Producer bundle is our most comprehensive package for MI customers, featuring a wide range of tools for stereo-field manipulation, mastering and measurement/analysis. In terms of individual plugins, MasterCheck is probably our most well-known MI product, a truly unique plugin that allows the user to hear how their track will sound on various streaming services ahead of time. This means there are no nasty surprises during playback on Spotify or YouTube. At the start of this year, we updated our SEQ-S plugin. This software has a “Match” EQ function that matches the frequency response between two pieces of audio, perfect for splicing together two vocal takes recorded under different conditions, or even as a starting point for a masterbus EQ with a reference track.
The Retailer: Are there any new/exciting NUGEN Audio products that you can discuss?
Tapper: We recently released our Paragon software, the world’s first 3D-compatible convolution reverb. We’re very excited about this software and have already had a lot of great responses from engineers around the world. A true convolution reverb with the flexibility and control of a classic algorithmic reverb, Paragon offers full
control of decay, room size and brightness via state-of-the-art re-synthesis modeled on 3D recordings of real spaces. It also provides an unprecedented level of tweakability, with zero time-stretching, which means no artifacts. Additionally, Paragon features spectral analysis and precise EQ of the Impulse Responses. We are also currently working on something exciting for the MI industry that is slated for release in the early part of the new year. Our developers are hard at work on the software, but it will need to remain under wraps just a bit longer. So, stay tuned for more!
The Retailer: Despite the many online platforms available, product marketing and promotion is tougher these days without in-person trade shows. How do you get the word out about your products in this environment?
Tapper: Like most everyone these days, we use various communication channels, especially our mailing list, website, social media, magazines and online forums. We also rely on our resellers reaching out to their customers with what they believe will be of interest to them. We really appreciate and value our direct customers, but, as a small software developer, we can’t hope to have relationships with all the customers for our products. That is where we really rely on our retailers.
The Retailer: Are you optimistic about the future of the pro-audio industry and MI industry in a hopeful post-COVID-19 environment?
Tapper: COVID has caused terrible disruption and uncertainty around the world, but the desire to listen to and create music hasn’t gone away. As some lockdowns and social distancing guidelines are easing, I am optimistic that the pro-audio and MI industries will bounce back quickly.
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