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MUSIKMESSE 2016: First impressions of the 'new concept'

Daniel Gumble
MUSIKMESSE 2016: First impressions of the 'new concept'

This year’s Musikmesse represented something of a tightrope walk for its organisers. The first outing to feature the ambitious ‘new concept’, it essentially sought to deliver two shows in one. Open to consumers for the duration, while offering a raft of dedicated B2B elements, Musikmesse 2016 was always going to be a tricky balancing act.

So, did organisers manage to pull it off, or did it flounder at the first whiff of the great unwashed? MI Pro editor, Daniel Gumble, offers his first impressions…

The knives were out for Musikmesse 2016 from the moment its organisers announced the ‘new concept’ during last year’s show. The mere mention of public access for the full four days sent international trade visitors into a tailspin. ‘How will I be able to do business with a swarm of students ransacking the booth?’ many asked. ‘How long before the show goes consumer-only?’ others inquired. ‘How will the hall change affect proceedings?’

All valid questions, and the fact that details of the changes appeared to be drip-fed through to exhibitors during the show by way of gossip and hearsay only exacerbated the uncertainty surrounding its future.
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In order to appease the concerns of its trade audience, Meese Frankfurt spent the next 12 months trying to convince them of the show’s B2B value, introducing all manner of business features only available to retailers, brands and suppliers.

As some embraced the ‘new concept’ and decided to commit to the 2016 show, others were sharpening their blades in anticipation of Musikmesse’s final outing as a fully-fledged trade event.

Now, as the dust begins to settle and the cacophonous tones of ‘80s hair metal start to subside, we can take a look back over the past few days and gather our first impressions of the show.

And you know what? They (Messe Frankfurt) may just have pulled it out of the bag.

While there’s no arguing that things felt a little out of kilter, what with the new hall locations and the almost deafening silence of the business hall – a blessing for trade visitors, just to be clear – the initial response from the UK industry has been rather positive.

Each of the exhibitors that I spoke to during the opening two days of the show reported similar experiences – that footfall appeared to be slightly down, but the quality of the visitors had been higher than usual, with the quieter environment allowing for more fruitful booth visits and meetings.

On the flipside, there is no denying that the absence of traditionally show stopping exhibits from the likes of Fender and Gibson made for a slightly muted atmosphere in certain quarters, while a number of major acoustic brands also decided to sit this year out.

Some of these, it seems, had chosen to take a backseat and observe proceedings as a spectator, weighing up whether or not to return to the fray in 2017. My gut feeling is that the majority will be back next year, given the response so far.

Meanwhile, on the consumer front, the new platform appeared to be major hit, as substantial crowds of students and families lapped up the live music in the courtyard areas and got to grips with the instruments on offer. Indeed, the sound emanating from the drum hall had me in a cold sweat and running for the exit within seconds, but those inside certainly looked like they were having fun.

As official figures arrive over the coming days, we’ll be able to glean a more accurate idea of just how well Musikmesse 2016 performed. We will also be speaking to others who were there to get their take on proceedings.

What’s clear is that Musikmesse is a show in transition. As with anything new, teething issues are inevitable, but early indications suggest that with a little finesse and a little patience from the international MI community, there’s no reason why it can’t retain its trade relevance and meet the needs of domestic consumers for many years to come.

Watch this space for more industry response to the ‘new concept’ at Musikmesse 2016.

Were you at this year’s show? Let us know what you made of it in the comments box below.

Tags: musikmesse , Opinion , Musikmesse 2016

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