The Shanghai fair is one of five worldwide events within the Prolight + Sound brand organised by Messe Frankfurt, which present innovations in the field of event and media-technologies. Along with the three Musikmesse fairs, which are held concurrently with their Prolight + Sound counterparts in Frankfurt, Shanghai and Moscow, they attract over 300,000 total visitors per year. These figures reflect the status of shows as the most important series of industry fairs in the world.
This year the German delegation, along with the Shanghai Show Team, decided to preview, to a special journalist delegation, the 2018 editions of Prolight + Sound and Musikmesse, which will take place in Frankfurt on the following dates: Musikmesse (11 to 14 April 2018) and Prolight + Sound (10 to 13 April 2018). As you can see from these dates, there will be three days of “overlap”. Representatives from LightSoundJournal were present, and we listened with interest to Michael Biwer, Group Show Director of the “Entertainment, Media & Creative Industries” Business Unit of Messe Frankfurt, who wanted to clarify some important aspects of the 2018 fair. Above all, Biwer shared with us some new choices, new paths and direction, and the continuation of some solutions already implemented in the 2017 edition of the show.
First and foremost, Mr. Biwer was keen to point out that, despite Messe Frankfurt being well aware of the challenges that mainly affect the music industry and therefore also Musikmesse, the Frankfurt fair duo of Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound is still a landmark event in the worldwide market, especially considering the diversity demonstrated within the shows. The portfolio of products displayed ranges from musical instruments and pro-entertainment, through the spheres of music performance and production, right through to integrated systems and installation. This, Biwer states, is enforced not only by the number of visitors and exhibitors that are present every year, but also by the appeal that the event still exercises globally.
Biwer states that “We know very well what we are, and above all we know what we do not want to be. We do not want to be the most important fair in the world in every specific sector, but the completeness and versatility of what we can offer visitors in Frankfurt is unique in the world.”
In reality (and something that is no secret within the industry) the sector that suffers the most is music, a downturn that is due to a drop in the musical instrument market and which certainly concerns the global market.
“For the 2018 edition of Musikmesse, we have tried to put the musical instrument back into the centre of the things, to gather as many enthusiasts together as possible within their dedicated areas, to reinforce the concepts of community, sharing and membership that are so important to many musicians “ said Michael. “Once again, various stages and theme areas will be provided.The visitor can approach, closely observe and test various setups, something that is always appreciated from the musicians’ perspectives”.
Another important aspect will be the management of noise inside the halls, which has always been a topic very close to exhibitors. To reflect this, there will be sound protection curtains between various product segments, sound booths for instrument testing and strict rules for maximum loudness at the exhibition stands.
Great importance will also be given to the Audio DJ and Recording product segment, which used to be spread over various halls at Prolight + Sound and Musikmesse and will be concentrated in a dedicated hall (4.1) in 2018. Thus, hall 4.1 will be a component part of both Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound.
Passing to Prolight + Sound, the new elements will be less “tangible”, as Biwer says. “The pro-entertainment industry is what we call a clear community, and it’s easier to identify the need and try to satisfy it, and it’s a matter of fact that PL+S is more consistent than Musikmesse.“
However, this certainly doesn’t mean that there won’t be any important new changes, especially when we look into education and meeting spaces, something that has proven to work well in previous years.
One last reflection concerns the cost of the city of Frankfurt, as many (ourselves included) have seen a significant increase in the costliness of the city over the past few years. On the other hand, the Messe Frankfurt team give assurance that with careful analysis, the prices are acceptable and staying in Frankfurt is not an expensive option.
At the end of the session, we asked Biwer if there was a willingness for upcoming editions of the fair to use stages for live demos and evening concerts, so as to exploit an important resource and further enrich the possibilities of directly engaging with the products and technologies on show.
“It is certainly something we are interested in and on which we are already working, especially in the outdoor stages, where there will be several concerts during the fair days, and other possibilities are currently being examined,” Michael tells us. “I repeat, the fair is far from dead, as strangely I’ve heard from somebody recently, and the numbers confirm that we are leaders and we are working hard to innovate and keep up with the times.”
As always, we will continue to keep you informed with insights on this important event, including the positioning and general logistics of the pavilions and logistics, as we have been doing for years with other fairs around the world. We are still convinced that these events are always an important and crucial opportunity for those involved in the industry to carry out business and to gain a greater understanding of the current trends of the market. We hope that in the future there can be an even heavier level of interaction between the visitors and the technologies present, giving an even heightened level of understanding of the products and services on offer.
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