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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Serge Business Model
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next [all]
Author Serge Business Model
chrisso
I was tempted to propose this in amnesia's thread about selling Serge panels in favour of Buchla. And that thread has somewhat touched on the Serge vs Buchla debate, and the differences between them.

So here is my point......
The main business development at STS over the last few years has been the slightly more affordable, more readily available pre-made panels.
This brings up the usually thorny issue of the necessity to purchase a minimum of one Serge panel to start your system.
This contrasts with the resurgence of the Buchla system, as Buchla Associates have offered a variety of lower cost powered cabinets, plus individual modules that can be bought one by one.
So despite the fact that STS continue to survive financially, do you think the biggest thing Rex could have done to spread the gospel of Serge throughout the increasingly popular scene of modular synthesis, would be to take a hacksaw to his panel system and offer individual modules once and for all?
Modular customers are still faced with buying an expensive, pre-planned, locked in and complete Serge panel as their entry point, as against the Buchla, Modcan, Doepfer business model that simply requires a housing, a psu and a minimum of one module to get started. And if you don't like your initial module choice, you can sell, swap, change it as many times as you want.
Cybananna
I don't mind the pre configured panel, and the price is probably fine. But, the thing keeping me out of serge at this point is dropping that much cash at once. I'm weak. It's reasonably easy for be to get the money to buy a nice euro or frac module, so I do. It's hard for me to save 2k to drop at one time. I see so many nice things that do interesting things so I get hung up on them. If Serge made single modules, i'd be more likely to get them. Again, but I do like the idea of Serge having a specific arrangement / workflow to their panels.

I have no issues with Serge's style. It's my weakness that's the issue. d'oh!
bartlebooth
Hey, I'm just happy Rex is still making the Serge line available! I have no problem with how he prefers to run the business. He has found an operating model that works for him and allows him to continue to provide great customer service and quality control, these are the most important things. As far as entry price, yes individual modules would be nice (I'd love to buy just a PRNV for example) but I think the M-odules do somewhat address this - though not going all the way down to individual modules, they are a reasonable compromise imho.
sascha.victoria
I think Euro sells well because its much easier to come up with $100 to $300 for a module once a month or whenever the mood strikes. This kind of coincides with interesting modules from a verity of manufactures that come out about once every couple of months.

Another factor is what the buyer is exposed to when they get into this mess. I would guess most entry level modular people haven't even heard of Buchla or Serge.

That being said I think the starting cost in any format is in the $2000 range. Yes, you can do it for less but to really be making sounds you need about $2000 worth of stuff. At that price your could get a Serge Creature + Boat + Power, a EuroRack with a bunch of whatever, or a Buchla oscillator and a powered boat. It just depends on what you want to do and where you want to go.
chrisso
Cybananna wrote:
I don't mind the pre configured panel, and the price is probably fine. But, the thing keeping me out of serge at this point is dropping that much cash at once.


The pre-configured, fully populated panel is what dictates the 'dropping' of so much cash at once.
chrisso
bartlebooth wrote:
Hey, I'm just happy Rex is still making the Serge line available! I have no problem with how he prefers to run the business. I think the M-odules do somewhat address this - though not going all the way down to individual modules, they are a reasonable compromise imho.



Yes, essentially it's none of my business.
However, it seems to me the easiest change STS could have made in the development of Serge would have been to take a hacksaw to the module faceplate, and drill a few screw holes in the rack panel. Instead the M panels were born.
From my reading of users experiences over the years on fora such as this, even experienced modular synthesists have reconfigured their systems and swapped or sold some initial purchases as they get used to a new way of working.
I don't think Buchla would have sold half the number of 200e modules if they had to be housed in a pre-configured and permanent housing.
aetherpulse
I think that the idea of Serge is that it is a "system" not just a collection of modules. Having to buy panels or m-odules makes the buyer think of the whole, not just piecing together one bit at a time.
bartlebooth
Quote:
From my reading of users experiences over the years on fora such as this, even experienced modular synthesists have reconfigured their systems and swapped or sold some initial purchases as they get used to a new way of working.


I think modular synthesists do this no matter what format they are using (just look at the 'for sale' section).
chrisso
aetherpulse wrote:
Having to buy panels or m-odules makes the buyer think of the whole, not just piecing together one bit at a time.


That's great as a theoretical exercise, but as I say, practice has proven that even experienced modular synthesists have found a need to tweak their initial system over time.
I admit the argument that Serge should be available as individual modules is somewhat old, but in the light of the resurgence of Buchla with an individual module system (ok it was traditionally so), and with an explosion in Serge/Buchla style modules in Euro/5U format, you might expect Rex to bite the bullet on pre-configured panels, instead of the M-odule system, which is just his own pre-configuring instead of the customer.
This was triggered by amnesia's dilemma over Serge or more Buchla. It occurred to me he could sell his pre-configured panels and at a later date add a small Serge rack containing a few of his favourite modules (some bought used perhaps) if that were possible.
panda30y
I personally have no issue with STS's business model. I understand why some people would want to buy individual modules, but I don't see the benefits to be significant. I agree with aetherpulse in that STS is trying to sell their "system" and their methodology.

Also, selling these systems preconfigured helps the beginner get a better grasp of what modules are needed, and I feel that these m-odules are very well laid out, and that you'll never really get a function block you wouldn't need.

Another thing to consider is that offering these pre made m-odules and shop panels might actually make their production process more efficient?

In the end, I don't see anything wrong with STS's business model, it's just different with its pros and cons.
chrisso
panda30y wrote:
I understand why some people would want to buy individual modules, but I don't see the benefits to be significant.


Really? No significant benefit to current or prospective customers?
sascha.victoria
Yeah, I see the m-odules as function blocks that are all filled with very useful together or separately. Buchla modules all have multiple functions within each module. To get the functionality of 1 Serge m-odule or 1 Buchla module you need a ton of Euro modules. Its the same but different.
chrisso
But the Serge modules are not interconnected in a block or panel by necessity.
I can't say there's any one M-odule that has my ideal module set contained within it, therefore it would beg the argument that more potential customers would prefer to choose their combinations in a smaller, less expensive Serge format.
bwhittington
As you say, these are all tired, old arguments, but I suppose we all have nothing better to do on a Monday night.

I wouldn't really want Serge to be offered as individual modules any more than I would want them offered as half panel "function blocks" with a gay black joining piece in the middle.

STS lost me when they stopped offering custom panels. That's what a Serge is to me, and it is what I wanted. Not the "Animal," or the "Creature," or whatever. A customized modular panel of my own design. If you like Rex Probe's taste over your own, congratulations, you've got the perfect system.

The moment I made a phone call and learned that custom orders were no longer accepted, my Buchla vs. Serge argument ended.
BananaPlug
You're all wasting your breath. A fair number of Serge fans have always complained about panelization for ages. Rex did finally came out with the M modules and that's as much of a compromise as I think we'll ever see, unless he does something much more radical like a 21st century new generation Serge-e thing.

In the format's earlier days you could revise your system. It was a big job but possible and not very expensive. The panel art back then was simply sticky paper and sticky mylar. If you got to the point where you wanted to rethink your system you could buy kits for any new modules you needed (consisting of assembled PCBs, panel parts, instructions, panel art) and they'd copy off any other panel art you needed and send it along. The pre-drilled panels got re-used after scraping off the old graphics and rubbing down the new. Aside from all the un-wiring and re-wiring there wasn't much to screw up and you could do the whole job with simple hand tools.
bartlebooth
Quote:
I wouldn't really want Serge to be offered as individual modules any more than I would want them offered as half panel "function blocks" with a gay black joining piece in the middle....If you like Rex Probe's taste over your own, congratulations, you've got the perfect system.


so you wouldn't want individual modules, half panels or full panels, only custom panels? Don't you think Rex stopped offering these not because he wants to dictate what people should buy but because it wasn't an efficient way to run his business? What other small shop does all custom work?
NV
I think that even if Rex offered individual modules, the price would still be high enough where it probably wouldn't effect the bottomline of his business to an enormous degree. The people who buy entire panels at once will instead buy 7-8 modules for the same price, and the people who aren't interested in buying an expensive Serge panel will still look at $800 for a single DSG and balk at the price. The panels would be their own dedicated 4U format, so there would still be the cost of entry of buying a rack and power supply just for the one or two modules you would like. I suppose offering mini-boats would be a good approach in that regard.

While I think in the end he will still pull in roughly the same amount of business, I also must agree that I would personally prefer the smaller module approach. Not necessarily because of the cash expenditure, but because it is annoying to want one DSG and be forced into getting two, or to want the Triple Waveshaper and Wave Multipliers and having to purchase a ring modulator, mixer, and crossfader at the same time for an additional $1,000. This is even with the new M-Class smaller panels. It may not be a problem if you are building only a dedicated Serge modular, but if you are starting with a pre-existing system and wish to augment it you can very easily end up with 50% modules you simply do not need in favor of the remaining few that you wanted. Also even within a dedicated Serge system you encounter issues - if you already own a Wilson Delay M-Class and decide you would like a Frequency Shifter, you have to buy another Analog Delay and X-Fader for $1,700. If you decide to sell the old panel, you lose the included DSG and mixer which you may wish to keep. Paying a high price for a quality item is fair in my mind, but I don't like putting half of the price towards things I ultimately don't want or already have.

Regardless I think Rex has all of the business he wants, otherwise I imagine he would have a more active approach to selling his goods rather than word of mouth and fan-made websites. Unless he decides he wants to ramp business up I can't imagine anything evolving past the M-Class approach.
panda30y
chrisso wrote:
panda30y wrote:
I understand why some people would want to buy individual modules, but I don't see the benefits to be significant.


Really? No significant benefit to current or prospective customers?


Well... here's how I see it, and I could very well be wrong. You would still have to start a new rack to jump into serge unless you make your own enclosure and power supply, so you would have a rack to fill regardless. Sure it would be great to have that one module for awhile, but you are ultimately probably going to pay a higher cost per function block now, and from Rex's perspective, this would slow down his production.

From a current owner's perspective, I can't argue that much, because you would have the ability to sell off individual function blocks as you feel fit, which would be great if I didn't want that extra N Comparator or DTG.

I feel that STS is chugging along quite well right now, and their turnaround time has been faster than ever from what I hear, and Rex has still uphold the good build quality, along with good friendly customer service. Again this is from what i've read and heard from a few serge owners. I just don't know if he can keep this up if he were to separate every function block into it's own module. It is what it is...
chrisso
bartlebooth wrote:
Don't you think Rex stopped offering these not because he wants to dictate what people should buy but because it wasn't an efficient way to run his business? What other small shop does all custom work?


Surely the best way to run your business is to give your customers what they want?
Your custom work point is a little moot, seeing as it's a modular system and customers have always been able to design their own constituent modules. The only difference is that Serge modules are bolted together.
You can design your own Modcan system, another one man, boutique maker, so why is it a stretch beyond which STS can no longer go?
Yes, it's an old argument, but I agree with the above, Rex sells as much as he wants and that's how things are staying.
It just came to my mind again, because an equally expensive to buy, boutique and uncompromising outfit called Buchla are doing better than ever by offering the choice and flexibility that STS have always eschewed.
chrisso
panda30y wrote:

You would still have to start a new rack to jump into serge , so you would have a rack to fill regardless.


You don't have to fill anything.
This whole thing crossed my mind because in the Serge vs Buchla dilemma thread (started by amnesia) the question arose - what parts of a Serge system would you keep if you could choose modules individually (and perhaps integrate them into a Buchla system)?
This is routine within other formats.
I have a mixture of Modcan and Cyndustries modules in a 5U format.
Buchla 200e owners can mix Verbos modules and vintage 200 modules together, and the average Euro system is chock-a-block with various manufacturers.
It just seems a shame that STS has opted out of the modular frenzy, unless you buy into a complete panel or M-odule.
panda30y
chrisso wrote:
bartlebooth wrote:
Don't you think Rex stopped offering these not because he wants to dictate what people should buy but because it wasn't an efficient way to run his business? What other small shop does all custom work?


Surely the best way to run your business is to give your customers what they want?
Your custom work point is a little moot, seeing as it's a modular system and customers have always been able to design their own constituent modules. The only difference is that Serge modules are bolted together.
You can design your own Modcan system, another one man, boutique maker, so why is it a stretch beyond which STS can no longer go?
Yes, it's an old argument, but I agree with the above, Rex sells as much as he wants and that's how things are staying.
It just came to my mind again, because an equally expensive to buy, boutique and uncompromising outfit called Buchla are doing better than ever by offering the choice and flexibility that STS have always eschewed.


I really doubt things are going to change, and I really wish people who want to could buy the modules individually. When I told Rex I spent 40 minutes trying to find his phone number he said he was happy to hear that. That's sortof the market that Rex is after, and he's doing well from what I understand.

Buchla in my opinion is doing better than ever because this is the first time his system has been so readily available. Also, if you sell a minimal system for 10k, regardless of how much research was spent, it's hard to not cut a pretty profit from that.
sascha.victoria
I hate to say it but this conversation isn't going to go anywhere. Serge is what Serge is. Like it or not, thats the end of that.
mono-poly
IMHO Serge users are very well served with the m-odule blocks.
There is enoug variation avaiable like this.
And if you compare it to a Buchla 261e vco the price aint bad either.
panda30y
sascha.victoria wrote:
I hate to say it but this conversation isn't going to go anywhere. Serge is what Serge is. Like it or not, thats the end of that.


+1 thumbs up
suitandtieguy
the way those modules are built on the inside delivering them to the customer in anything smaller than the m-odule is not technically possible IMHO.

the whole system would have to be re-engineered from the ground up.
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