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Frankfurt Reconfigures Show To Address Changing Market

...what would the dual trade fairs reflect about their respective markets in 2015? Held April 15-18, this year’s gatherings drew a combined 2,257 exhibitors and 108,000 visitors to the Exhibition Centre in Frankfurt, Germany, making this undoubtedly Europe’s premiere showcase for music, sound, and live performance products of almost every kind. Drawing from 146 countries, it was a window on topics from the comeback of the analog synth to the impact of the plunging euro, down around 20% against the U.S. dollar from a year ago. More than most years, however, one of the issues at hand in Frankfurt was the future of the fair itself, which will return next year in revamped form after an intensive review by its organizers. “To ensure a future, you need a lot of patience,” said Braun, a member of Messe Frankfurt’s Executive Committee, “and you need the courage to make the right decisions.”

Held side by side for three decades, the pairing of Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound is a given for the buyers and sellers who make their way to Frankfurt each year. In a press conference hosted by Braun and three colleagues, however, Messe Frankfurt outlined how the two segments are diverging. Fueled by fresh technologies and a €5.75 billion European events market, Prolight + Sound remains a primetime attraction. Musikmesse, for a number of reasons we’ll touch on later, finds itself on shakier ground. Based on a survey of its exhibitors, Messe Frankfurt’s response for 2016 begins with opening the halls to consumers on every day of the show. A separate space will be designated “trade only”—and special rates will be offered to companies that exhibit in both areas. In addition, the organizers will swap the traditional layout, moving Musikmesse from its longtime home on the eastern side of the Exhibition grounds to a more compact area in Halls 8, 9, and 11 on the western side. Halls 1, 3, 4, and 5 on the eastern side will house Prolight + Sound. The dates of the two shows will also be staggered, with an overlap of two days in the middle: Prolight + Sound will run from Tuesday, April 5 through Friday, April 8, while Musikmesse will run from Thursday, April 7 through Sunday, April 10. 

“I believe in the concept we’ve developed to make sure this duo will grow,” said Messe Frankfurt’s Kai Hattendorf, who’s been newly appointed to head up both fairs. “We’d like to seize the opportunities that are out there for us.”

For the complete report from Frankfurt, see the new June issue of The Music Trades!

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