Interview: Andreas Stelling

A decade after the brand became part of the Yamaha Corporation, now seemed the ideal time to get an update from Steinberg managing director Andreas Stelling about the long-term results of the partnership, and how the firm is starting to gain serious ground in the hardware market…

AMI: It’s now been 10 years since Yamaha acquired Steinberg. How would you describe the progress that has been made by the company over the past decade?

Stelling: Over the past 10 years, we have released several highly successful versions of our music production software, Cubase; we have effectively invigorated the segment of VST instruments and effects; and we have launched new and enhanced existing Steinberg technologies. Furthermore, we introduced WaveLab to the OS X community, increased Nuendo’s extensive feature list and offered apps to mobile devices.

Clearly the progress that we’ve made over the past decade has been exhilarating and, yes, a portion of the successful development is owed to our colleagues at Yamaha. We have a great relationship with our parent company, and this relationship has been beneficial to both Steinberg and Yamaha.

As well as obvious financial benefits, the partnership has resulted in several product collaborations, such as the Nuage system, which you must be pleased with?

Seeing that joint efforts between Steinberg and Yamaha have noticeably come to fruition is really positive and exciting for us. The Nuage system is a good example, but also Steinberg-branded controllers and audio interfaces have been very well received, and profitable projects of the past do make way for collaborations in the future.

You seem to be pushing your new hardware products, such as the UR range of USB audio interfaces, a lot at the moment. Would this be another growing area of business for you currently then?

You have realised this correctly. Our UR interfaces are very well received in the market, especially the UR22 audio interface, which has been able to stake out a clear position for itself.

The fact that its feature set, build quality and price point are perfectly balanced have made the UR22 our most popular USB audio interface. For example, at one of the largest worldwide online MI retailers, Thomann, the UR22 has been the best-selling audio interface over the past 18 months.

More generally speaking, Steinberg-branded hardware is now an important part of our product portfolio. For many of our customers it’s central to be able to rely on a complete system solution comprising both software and hardware, and that’s what we can offer them.

Cubase is one of the longest-running DAWs out there, but there is a lot more competition around now than when it was first released. How have you ensured that it continues to hold such a strong position in the market after all this time?

One way to safeguard the strong position of Cubase in a rapidly changing market and the strong competition is Steinberg’s ambition to offer major updates regularly. Our customer base values the reliability/predictability with which we manage to achieve equilibrium between new features and fixes, creative tools and workflow improvements, and we do that time and again. Another aspect that needs to be mentioned here is our genuine interest in customer needs and requirements.

It must be a challenge to keep up with the ever-changing demands of your customers. How do you stay on top of it all?

It certainly is a challenge, especially since individual demands constantly change, but it is also due to the spread of customers ranging from the many entry-level hobbyists to professionals who rely on our products in their daily business. Our information is collated and assessed from a wide variety of sources – we host online surveys, monitor forums and turn straight to producers and musicians for ideas and inspiration.

In what ways have you been working to improve ‘behind the scenes’ since the acquisition? For example, I understand you’ve been working on enhancing your sales and distribution operations

Distribution changed drastically after the acquisition – while most distributors outside Europe belong to the Yamaha Corporation, we chose to supply countries directly within the EU.

What would you say the main strengths of the company are?

German thoroughness will never be a cliché not worth mentioning, but it’s certainly the ambition of our engineers and of all the other great people working at Steinberg to provide customers with the best products and service possible.

Have you got any future plans for the business that you’d like to share with us?

I would like to mention two business matters for now. First, online collaboration definitely gets people buzzing these days, and rightly so. It’s a great way to bring musicians and producers together, and while we already offer the VST (Virtual Studio Technology) Connect technology one can expect more to come in the future.

Secondly, we are currently working on a new scoring application that will add to our existing line of professional products. This new software application will allow us to enter a new market segment currently dominated by two competitors, however, we know that many users are still looking for the right fit and we are confident that we can deliver just this.