Musikmesse 2015 characterised by stability in a challenging economic climate
Great enthusiasm in the halls and on the outdoor area
New concept from 2016: opening to private visitors on all days and stronger trade-visitor programmes
The international Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound trade fairs at Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre closed their doors on the evening of 18 April 2015 after a successful four-day run jam-packed with musical and dramatic highlights. “Over 108,000 visitors from 146 countries witnessed a dazzling display of new products, stars and events presented by 2,257 exhibitors1 ”, said Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt. “Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound confirmed their role as a source of impulses for active music making, event presentation and new business contacts.” This year, both fairs were characterised by an excellent trade-visitor standard, a good propensity to order and a high level of internationality.
Despite a good overall economic climate in Germany and signs of recovery in the euro zone, Musikmesse reflects a challenging market. Although Germans spent slightly more on musical instruments last year, the industry continues to face an uphill struggle given the decline in active music making. Additionally, there have been clear signs of a process of consolidation in the musical-instrument market for many years now. Despite the volatile economic climate, Musikmesse was able to maintain a constant level of exhibitor and visitor numbers. 1,329 exhibitors from 51 countries2 presented their latest products from the fields of musical instruments, sheet music, music production and marketing. 65,355 visitors from 1193 countries made their way to Frankfurt to discover new products and gain inspiration from the extensive programme of events. Thus, Musikmesse was once again able to confirm its outstanding position as the foremost international trade fair for the musical-instrument sector. After Germany, this year’s top visitor nations were The Netherlands, Italy, France, Great Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Spain, Sweden and Poland.
The industry’s patchy economic situation is reflected by the assessments of Musikmesse participants. 74 percent of trade visitors and 69 percent of exhibitors rated the current business climate in the sector as being satisfactory to good. Last year, the ratings were 78 and 73 percent respectively. Nevertheless, Musikmesse was able to underscore its vital function as a showroom and market place for the sector and generate important impulses: “The fair is an extremely important platform where exhibitors can launch their new products – and judge their position in relation to their competitors. In this connection, the fair is distinguished by great internationality whereby the new B2B area was a very useful improvement this year. Naturally, the fair is also important to help consumers develop a feeling for music”, said Gerhard A. Meinl, Chairman of the Federal Association of German Musical Instrument Manufacturers (Bundesverband der Deutschen Musikinstrumenten-Hersteller e. V. – BDMH). Confirming this assessment, Dr Christian Blüthner-Haessler, CEO of Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik, said, “We did lots of business and gained many new customers during the four days of the fair. Despite the rather inclement climate in the sector, Musikmesse 2015 came fully up to expectations.” With new services and conceptual adjustments, the fair was able to gain ground in terms of both retailers and consumers. 74 percent of exhibitors, 91 percent trade visitors and 93 percent of private visitors said they were satisfied or even extraordinarily satisfied with their results in relation to the goals they set beforehand.
Presentation platform for new products and innovations
Nowhere else can retailers, professional musicians and music aficionados see and hear such as host of innovations from the field of musical instruments as at Musikmesse in Frankfurt am Main. Particularly popular are extraordinary designs with, for example, airbrush paintwork and instrument decorations with LEDs or hologram effects. Moreover, an increasing number of manufacturers are making use of unusual materials, from exotic wood, via amber, to carbon fibre. Another striking development is the rediscovery of historical instruments with more and more consumers showing an interest in long forgotten kinds of lyres and lutes, antique plucked instruments from regions such as Greece and Asia Minor and percussion instruments from North Africa and the Middle East. Naturally, this year’s exhibitors also strove to impress visitors with superlatives, such as, according to the manufacturers, the world’s most valuable guitar or smallest ocarina. Synthesisers continue to be one of the driving forces of the market. “When it comes to electronic sound generation, the trend is back towards hardware whereby haptics are playing an ever greater role. Although the sector continues to be confronted by a variety of challenges, this segment has developed well”, said Steve Baltes, Sales Manager of Sonic Sales GmbH. “The fair was very good for us. We came to interest retailers in our new products – and we were very successful in this. We were able to make many new business contacts and present our products to an interested and knowledgeable audience of visitors. We are very pleased with the number of visitors to our stand, which was even higher than last year.”
Programme of events with concerts, awards and young talent development
This year’s Musikmesse opened its doors to private visitors for two whole days. In this way, the organisers not only reinforced the fair’s standing as an inspiring music experience for all age groups and degrees of professionalism but also gave exhibitors an even better opportunity to take active steps to interest consumers in their products. In accordance with this, greater emphasis than ever before was given to the event factor at the fair. With over 1,000 concerts, workshops, autograph sessions and presentations, the Musikmesse event programme had something for all tastes – from classic, via funk and soul, to rock and heavy metal. The big names appearing included star pianist Lang Lang, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, ‘Schlager’ singer Guildo Horn, the pop-rock shooting stars from Luxuslärm and members of the Donots band. One of the special highlights was ‘In the Eye of the Rock’n’Roll Hurricane’, a photographic exhibition by star photographer Neal Preston, which gave visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in 45 years of rock history. In addition to inside the exhibition halls and on the stages, entertainment was also writ large on the outdoor exhibition area. A particular eye-catcher was the Gibson AirDome where, supported by a column of air, daring guitarists had the chance to perform twelve metres above the ground. “As a platform for extraordinary music-related activities such as this, Musikmesse gives manufacturers the opportunity to boost their image and make direct contact with consumers. This is incredibly important for the Gibson brand”, said Michael Smilgies, Entertainment Relations Manager, Gibson Brands.
One of the most important aims of Musikmesse is to promote music making among young people. To this end, Messe Frankfurt once again expanded its commitment. Thus, opening the fair on the Friday made it easier for school groups to attend the fair while the Music4Kids participatory exhibition sent over 8,000 children aged from three to ten on a journey of musical discovery with extraordinary instrument creations, sound experiments and sound installations. New attractions, such as instrument workshops with famous artists and introductory DJ courses ensured that this year’s Music4Kids was an even more powerful magnet for secondary-school children and families. Musikmesse also offered something for older school students with young talents competing for the title of ‘Germany’s Best School Band’ at the School Jam finale and getting the taste of a great concert stage for the first time. This year, the title went to ‘Superheld’, a band from Leipzig. Moreover, the European School Music Award for particularly worthwhile music-teaching projects was presented at the fair.
As in the past, the Frankfurt Music Prize was given during the fair to an outstanding personality from the world of music. This year, it went to percussionist Peter Sadlo, a musical all-rounder who, according to the Board of trustees, has made an important contribution to increasing acceptance of percussion instruments for solo performances. However, the awards ceremonies at Musikmesse put the spotlight not only on artists and projects but also on special products. For example, this year’s German Music Instrument Award was given in the 4/4 violin and Bb trumpet categories. For the first time, the award went to an instrument made of carbon-fibre matting, the ‘Design Line’ violin. Jonathan Robbins, International Customer Relations Manager of manufacturer Mezzo-Forte Streichinstrumente, emphasised the significance of the award for his company: “Winning the German Music Instrument Award has enabled us to break down many prejudices and show that we make outstanding products. Great interest was shown in our instruments and we were able to reach many retailers here at Musikmesse. All in all, we couldn’t be more satisfied with the course of business at the fair.”
Greater B2B quality on all four days of the fair
This year’s Musikmesse gained extra points not only for the way it helped contact more consumers and generated a greater interest in music making among young people but also for new developments that underscored its significance as the foremost international business platform for the musical-instrument sector. For the first time, the fair offered a B2B area reserved exclusively for manufacturers, distributors and retailers, where they could go to hold sales, marketing and delivery talks in a professional atmosphere. In the immediate vicinity of the B2B area was the Tulip Club, a VIP lounge for top buyers from the sector. Summing up, Gerhard Essl, CEO, Gewa Music GmbH, said, “For us, Musikmesse is the sector’s most important event of the year. With the new B2B area, the fair has made a genuine quantum leap forward this year. We were partners for the concept from the beginning and played a decisive role in designing the new area. I must say, we are delighted with the results. Our company had its own four-part business centre with a show floor and areas for sales, catering and education. The echo was extremely good – all the retailers who came to us were impressed by the peaceful atmosphere, the stylish ambience and the high business quality.”
Thanks to the ‘Musikmesse Insider’ programme of benefits, the fair was able to increase its power of attraction for specialist musical-instrument retailers by creating exclusive value added for purchasing decision makers from all over Europe. The benefits included free admission to the fair, unrestricted access to the B2B area, VIP admission to the Gewa Business Centre, free cloakroom service, etc. ‘Musikmesse Insider’ was a complete success: around 1,600 specialist retailers registered for the programme. They came from 16 different countries – besides Germany, in particular from the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain, Austria, France, Norway, Denmark and Sweden.
New concept from 2016: opening to private visitors on all days and stronger trade-visitors programmes
Messe Frankfurt presented a new concept for the two fairs during Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound. To come into effect next year, the concept orients both events more towards the needs of the musical instrument and entertainment industry. “The new concept focuses equally on strengthening the contact-making process between trade and industry and on the completely new contact areas between manufacturers and consumers”, explained Detlef Braun.
Thus, Musikmesse will open its doors to consumers with music-style specific exhibition halls on all days. At the same time, there will be an exclusive business hall for trade visitors only, which will give them and exhibitors more room and contact space for undisturbed business discussions. To implement the new concept, Musikmesse will move to the western section of Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre next year and occupy more than 95,000 square metres of indoor, outdoor and conference space. Thus, in its new location comprising Halls 8, 9.0, 9.1, 11.0, 11.1, the Galleria and Portalhaus, as well as the adjoining outdoor areas, Musikmesse will remain as big as ever. In the case of Prolight + Sound, numerous product extensions in recent years have created a potential for growth that the organisers must make space for. Accordingly, it will move to the eastern section of Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre from next year and occupy Halls 1, 3, 4 and 5, as well as the Congress Centre and outdoor exhibition areas.
To strengthen the new consumer components of Musikmesse and the trade-visitor focus of Prolight + Sound, as well as to retain the important synergistic effects of both events, the sequences of days on which the two fairs are held will change from 2016.
Prolight + Sound will begin on Tuesday and end on Friday.
Musikmesse will begin on Thursday and, in the interests of private visitors, end on Sunday. The hours of opening are also changing: the fairs will open from 10.00 to 19.00 hrs on all days
Arthur Knopp, President of the Federation of German Music Dealers (Gesamtverband Deutscher Musikfachgeschäfte – GDM), welcomed this development saying, “We continue to stand firmly by Frankfurt as the venue for the fair and see the innovations as offering great opportunities. As an association, we want to play an active role in making the concept a success. With these changes, we are not only hoping to give the retail trade a boost but also to kindle a greater interest in making music and generate enthusiasm and emotions for musical instruments. The Musikmesse can and must make an active contribution to this.”
The next Musikmesse will take place from 7 to 10 April 2016.
Other events of the Musikmesse brand:
NAMM Musikmesse Russia: Moscow, 10 to 13 September 2015
Music China: Shanghai, 14 to 17 October 2015
Further information, images, video and audio material can be found at www.musikmesse.com/presse .
Topical information about Musikmesse is also available via our social-media channels:
Background information on Messe Frankfurt
Messe Frankfurt is one of the world’s leading trade fair organisers, generating around € 550* million in sales and employing more than 2,200* people worldwide. The Messe Frankfurt Group has a global network of 28 subsidiaries and around 50 international Sales Partners, allowing it to serve its customers on location in more than 160 countries. Messe Frankfurt events take place at more than 30 locations around the globe. In 2014, Messe Frankfurt organised 120* trade fairs, of which more than half took place outside Germany.
Comprising an area of 578,000 square metres, Messe Frankfurt’s exhibition grounds are home to ten exhibition halls. The company also operates two congress centres. The company is publicly owned, with the City of Frankfurt holding 60 percent and the State of Hesse 40 percent.
For more information, please visit our website at: www.messefrankfurt.com
* preliminary figures (2014)