‘These things take balls to do’: BPM|PRO CEO talks new shows in a PSNEurope exclusive

Mark Walsh announced that the annual DJ and audio event would be making way for four brand new trade events earlier this week.
By Daniel Gumble,
Marked Events CEO Mark Walsh

Having just announced that the annual BPM|PRO trade show would be no more, Marked Events CEO Mark Walsh has spoken exclusively to PSNEurope about why he decided to call time on the event and the reasons behind the launch of FOUR brand new events for 2018/19.

The announcement was made on Monday, as BPM|PRO 2017 drew to a close that it will be replaced with four specialist shows over the next couple of years:

GIG - The Professional Entertainer Show – Genting Arena, NEC, Birmingham - October 21-22, 2018

WORSHIP Technology Show - !Audacious, Manchester - November 6-7, 2018

CLUB & BAR Technology Show – London - February 27-28, 2019

LIVE Production Show - Launching 2018

Walsh said on Monday that the show had: “closed on a high and will forever be remembered as a landmark show for the industry”.

He continued: “Our industry is about the user groups, the networks and your solutions. With that in mind, it is with great pleasure I announce our new line-up of shows, which will be rolled out throughout 2018 and 2019.”

Now, in an exclusive interview with PSNEurope, Walsh reveals all on why now was the time to bring the curtain down on BPM|PRO and why the global events industry is “in flux”…

Why did you feel it necessary to close the BPM|PRO show?

In a nutshell, I didn’t want to have to change or mould BPM into something it isn’t. We were slowly finding ourselves changing certain things, compromising the show’s original format to fit with industry changes and a diverse, fast-growing audience. It was becoming harder and harder for us to retain our identity. With that in mind, I just felt that the time was right. BPM | PRO was a successful product of its time but all good things come to an end. I think dropping the BPM name was the boldest part of the decision – it is well respected and was still doing well.

As everyone knows, the global events market is currently in flux, you only need to look to Musikmesse, PL&S, PLASA, NAMM and ISE to see that there is a big tradeshow rollercoaster out there. We are a smaller, nimbler operator and we can really use that to our advantage reacting to industry changes in almost real time.

What will the new shows offer that BPM|PRO couldn’t?

They will offer focus. Whilst BPM was a massive success again this year, it is hard to market to all the various user-groups at the same time with a concise message. When I took a step back and looked at BPM I couldn’t work out who BPM was for any more.

By creating passionate shows with each of the user-groups in mind we can create pin-point accurate seminars and learning, and our exhibitors know what to expect and can target their offerings well.

How big a gamble is it to launch four new shows? Do you see this as a high-risk strategy?

Anything in this day and age is a gamble but I actually think it’s a sensible choice, particularly with the current uncertainty in the financial market place and with Brexit. The shows will allow exhibitors to dip in and out of sectors based on their current marketing focuses and exhibit at a realistic price point too. They can size up and down based upon how important each vertical is. In a way, it’s spread betting with shows!

How did you decide upon the four areas to launch into?

I have been looking at the global marketplace in detail for around 18 months with a view to making the changes we have. The thing that stood out was that the shows that had focus (ISE, WFX, Nightclub & Bar) were on the way up and the general ‘sound and lighting’ shows were on their way down.

WORSHIP was a no-brainer; a huge market with a razor-sharp focus and identifiable needs. We are a good number of years behind the US worship market here in the UK but we are catching up fast. It is one area that the majority of brands we spoke to value and respect. It is a high-ticket, high-spec sector of the industry with a clear network.

CLUB + BAR and LIVE both follow the same pattern with an identifiable audience, each with unique needs. We will be working with each sector to develop these shows by creating focus groups and looking at inspirational venues that reflect the market sectors.

Finally, we have GIG – the professional entertainer show. Taking the trade aside, our core BPM markets were those of the club and mobile DJ. GIG does what it says in the tin; its for the working performers, DJs and entertainers – from mobile DJs to singers and bands to children’s entertainers. The gigging community is huge and GIG will open us up to thousands of new visitors in parallel markets.

What has the response been like from the industry since the announcement was made?

Bittersweet… I think we got the timing just right! There was a definite moment of sadness when it was announced but a realisation from the industry that it was the best thing to do. On the whole people are very positive and it has made them think differently about why they attend the shows they do. For me, just turning up because that’s what your competitors do is not a good enough reason to attend any event. Hopefully this will make brands think more and let them mould their offerings accordingly. On a personal level, I have been bowled over by the messages of thanks and support from industry friends and colleagues. They appreciate that these things take balls to do but I am doing it all for the right reasons.

What is the core audience you are targeting with these shows - trade, consumer, both?

For WORSHIP, CLUB + BAR and LIVE we are looking to attract its network, from the installers and integrators to the specifiers and influencers. These are trade shows with a B2B atmosphere (obviously with a touch of Marked Events magic thrown in).

GIG, on the other hand, is an event for the users. I am reluctant to use the word ‘consumer’ as they are an industry in themselves. How brands choose to sell their products to this group of people is totally up to them (don’t get me started on what is trade in this day and age!). In the same way that BPM did, GIG will reflect the passion of the industry with plenty of live interaction and entertainment. I have learnt a lot over the last 11 years and will be turning the floorplan upside down with this show.