Face the Musik: The PSNEurope Musikmesse 2018 review

MI Focus editor Laura Barnes reviews this year’s Musikmesse and looks at the key area of MI and pro audio crossover.
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Hiwatt amps stand

MI Focus editor Laura Barnes reviews this year’s Musikmesse and looks at the key area of MI and pro audio crossover...

Depending on who you spoke to, and on what day of this year’s Musikmesse you spoke to them, their answer to the question “how is the show going?” ranged from “it’s been a bit quiet” to “I’ve been so busy I haven’t even left my booth for three days”!

One trade visitor suggested that they could probably condense their Musikmesse meetings into one day, while another said they were so busy that they were staying longer this year than at the last show. As the old saying goes, you can’t please everybody, but you certainly can’t say Musikmesse isn’t trying to.

With 800-plus flight cancellations happening a day before Musikmesse opened – which was also the opening day of Prolight+Sound – and an unfortunate combination of torrential rain and public transport strikes, Messe Frankfurt didn’t have the smoothest of rides. Despite this, there was still plenty to see.

This year saw Musikmesse and Prolight+Sound organisers add in a number of new elements to both the trade and consumer aspects of the two shows, bringing together the MI and pro audio markets where it saw the most crossover, and ramping up its live performance offerings throughout.

Two areas of the show that proved particularly popular with the masses on the Musikmesse side were Yamaha’s huge dedicated area and the acoustic instrument hall.

Yamaha pretty much offered its own ‘show within the show’. It had acoustic instruments, electronics, sound booths, classical instruments, performances and talks all going on. It certainly appeared to be the busiest area of the show.

Another busy area of the fair was the Acoustic Instruments, Percussion and Sheet Music hall. While traditionally a quieter affair than the Guitar and Drum camps, this year saw vast numbers of visitors gather to take in an array of show-stopping live performances on the Baton Rouge stand, check out the boutique offerings from the smaller brands, and queue up to try out Martin Guitar’s new Black Walnut models. Hal Leonard’s huge book stand proved quite a draw for visitors, too.

While the electric guitar and drum areas traditionally tend to be the loudest and busiest at this kind of trade show, it was surprisingly a little more subdued than last year. The constant interruption drummers received from the onsite “noise police” didn’t help either. While this is a measure that must be implemented, it certainly appeared to be enforced with greater vigour this year than ever before.

There were some notable announcements in this section though, mainly GEWA and DW Drums’ new hybrid drum kit and triggers, and the welcome re-launch of British amp manufacturer Hiwatt. New additions like Amp World and the Fender exhibition were a nice touch, but again somewhat quiet.

It’s worth noting that Messe Frankfurt re-introduced days reserved solely for trade visitors this year, so it’s understandable that the more consumer centric elements of the show would seem calmer on these days, and is possibly why some exhibitors noticed a dip in footfall.

Messe Frankfurt’s post-event press release actually revealed that due to this re-introduced trade-only element, there was a decline in the number of private visitors from Germany. It was also revealed that there was a significant increase in the share of trade visitors (up 10 per cent).

Where this year’s show really gave both consumers and trade visitors something new to discover was in the crossover halls. The ‘Audio, DJ and Recording’ and the ‘DJCon’ halls attracted a healthy mix of visitors with microphones, DJ and recording equipment, DJ software, live demonstrations, and DJ sessions aplenty.

Next year, both shows will overlap fully on all days (Tuesday, April 2-Friday, April 5, with Musikmesse running for an extra day and closing on Saturday, April 6) and “move closer together spatially”. Not only will organisers hope that this decision will result in bringing everything closer together, but that it will also give trade visitors the chance to get through their meetings a little quicker and perhaps even have time to go investigate other areas of the show that they might have missed this year.

While the 2018 instalment of Musikmesse may not have been quite as busy as last year, news that the number of trade visitors was up year-on-year could well be seen as an encouraging sign. Messe Frankfurt will certainly be hoping that the new set-up for Musikmesse and Prolight+Sound in 2019 will help cement its place and, indeed, importance in what is becoming an increasingly fluctuating and, indeed, challenging trade show landscape.

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