“For many centuries, Frankfurt has been a central site for merchants who met at the Romer, a medieval building in the heart of the city that served as a marketplace, and from 1909 onwards, they relocated to the new location of the Festhalle” according to the Messe Frankfurt organizers.
This year’s Musikmesse, the world’s largest musical instrument and pro sound & light show, ran from March 21 through March 24 continuing this long tradition of commerce in the region. Messe reported 1,512 exhibitors from 51 countries at this year’s gathering (fairly level with 1,504 exhibitors from 50 countries reported last year) and a total of 109,851 attendees visiting the joint convention – 68,587 of which came specifically for Musikmesse. 41,000 of these visitors came from countries outside of Germany, especially from England, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, and Russia.
Though there were a few scattered dealers from the USA in attendance, anecdotes from exhibitors suggested that there were less than in previous years. New this year was the first Eventplaza – a forum for event management at Prolight & Sound, which is a source for event planners and agencies. Additionally, the European piano manufacturers made their bi-annual appearance at the show at the Piano Salon Europe.
The talk at this year’s show reflected the concerns and challenges facing the Euro-based economies. Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece are confronting difficult economic problems and it is suspected that their levels of sales in the musical instrument market will take a downturn in 2012. This signifies a shift from the last several years when the conversation was focused on the difficulties facing the US market. However, there is still strength in the European economy with Germany remaining resilient throughout the global downturn. It has been able to maintain a relatively low unemployment rate which was reflected by the activity of the German dealers and suppliers at the show.
Though many exhibitors reported the traffic to be lighter this year, most still felt that the more important distributors and dealers showed up and wrote business. Dennis Drumm of JHS/Fret King used this year’s show to launch their new line of band instruments by featuring a separate booth in the wind instrument hall. Andy Lutz of ProTec International reflected that the Musikmesse is still an extremely important show to meet with worldwide dealers and distributors to find out what’s happening in their markets as well as to help determine what products are specifically needed for those markets. Examples of Pro-Tec recent introductions include cases designed specifically for German system clarinets and rotary valve trumpets which would mostly be applicable to the European market. Steven Wasser, president of Verne Q. Powell Flute Company used the show to introduce their new, uniquely designed piccolo to the market. Back on the home front, Tom Lagomarsino of Pianodisc/Mason & Hamlin sees some positive growth in the high end of the piano market, with Mason & Hamlin’s instruments showing a significant increase in sales over the past year.
Discussions about the upcoming NAMM and Messe Frankfurt joint venture on a Russian trade show for the global industry were prevalent and focused on the large potential new market for MI and Pro Light & Sound Products. “It gives manufacturers and distributors a professional platform to seek out new buyers and improve relations with existing ones,” says Joe Lamond, president/CEO of NAMM. “As partners with Messe Frankfurt in this new venture, we look forward to serving our global NAMM Membership by increasing the size of the market and helping more people there experience the enjoyment and many proven benefits of playing music.”
The next Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound trade fairs will be held in Frankfurt from April 10 to 13, 2013.