Despite the challenges related to the worldwide economic crisis, the 30th annual Musikmesse and ProLight & Sound show in Frankfurt, Germany showed surprising resiliency. The gathering is the largest convention of musical instrument and audio/lighting companies in the world and, although the number of exhibitors was slightly down from last year, this year’s show still featured an extraordinary list of companies, with 1,560 exhibitors at the Musikmesse and 850 at the ProLight & Sound show, representing 47 countries. The U.S. fielded 46 companies at the ProLight & Sound show and 132 at the Musikmesse. Attendance figures from the Messe management indicated approximately 111,000 visitors, a slight increase over last year’s attendance, although the attendance from people outside of Germany was down by 3.5 percent. Some U.S. exhibitors suggested that attendance from American dealers was down significantly. The best represented visitor nations after Germany were The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Italy, Austria, Great Britain, Poland, Sweden, Spain, and the Czech Republic. The most non-European visitors came from the U.S.A., South Korea, the People’s Republic of China, and Japan.
The mood of exhibitors varied considerably depending upon the category of products represented. As expected, those companies involved in manufacturing and distributing accessory products appeared to be weathering, or even thriving, during the economic storm in comparison to makers of higher priced products in the market. Several exhibitors said that their sales had suffered since October, but that in March, business improved significantly.
The shift in the exchange rate of the Euro/Dollar relationship from the $1.55 last year to $1.35 this year did present some stronger buying opportunities for U.S. companies yet many buyers weren’t quick to take advantage of this situation. A survey by the management of the Messe indicated that 75 percent foreign exhibitors and visitors to Prolight + Sound said the economic situation was satisfactory to good compared with 90 percent last year.
A recent addition to the convention is the Musikbiz area which, according to the Musikmesse management, continues to grow. Exhibitors in this area include companies who are involved with music marketing, music labels, publishing products, recording studios, and more.
The winner of the 27th Frankfurt Music Prize, Dr. José Antonio Abreu, musician and founder of the renowned ‘Sistema de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela’, an organization promoting music-making among children and young people in Venezuela, was given an enthusiastic reception at the ceremony and other public occasions in Frankfurt am Main. The most famous graduate of Abreu’s system is Gustavo Dudamel, who has recently become the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the age of
This year’s Musikmesse once again attracted the crème de la crème of the music scene to Frankfurt, e.g., guitarists such Al Di Meola, Steve Lukather, Paul Gilbert, Lee Ritenour, Joe Satriani, Frank Gambale, and Jeff Loomis – the spectrum ranged from jazz via rock and pop, to metal. Bass players of all musical directions, such as Jonas Hellborg, Hadrien Feraud, Etienne Mbappé, Billy Sheehan and Dave Pybus, were also to be seen at the Musikmesse, as were percussionists such as Will Calhoun, Simon Phillips, Chad Wackerman, Mark Schulman, Cindy Blackman, et cetera. Naturally, stars of other branches of the music world were also in Frankfurt, including Britain’s Paul Archibald – one of Europe’s best trumpeters – and saxophonists Klaus Doldinger and Tony Lakatos.
The international Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound trade fairs in Frankfurt am Main will next be held from 24 to 27 March 2010. Before then, Music China and Prolight + Sound Shanghai, will be held at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC) in Shanghai (PR China) from 13 to 16 October 2009.