Exhibitors and visitors once again make Musikmesse the most important fair for the musical-instrument industry
Exhibitors delighted with visitor numbers and quality
Musikmesse increasingly important for the music industry
Musikmesse 2012 confirmed last year’s record results with a very good set of figures. From 21 to 24 March, Musikmesse turned the City of Frankfurt into the world’s biggest music event. With 1,512 exhibitors from 51 countries (2011: 1,504 exhibitors from 50 countries), Musikmesse 2012 was able to match last year’s record results. On the visitor side, Musikmesse also confirmed its position as the world’s most important fair for all aspects of music making and, in combination with the concurrent Prolight + Sound, International Fair of Technologies and Services for Events, Installation and Production, attracted 109,841 visitors (2011: 109,002) from 120 countries, 68,587 of whom came primarily for Musikmesse. Together, the two fairs constitute the most important event for the musical instrument and live entertainment sector.
In addition to its function as the most important venue for the sector, Musikmesse sets the trends of the coming year – a vital function, especially in turbulent economic times. The confidence of companies in the economic outlook for the sector fell slightly this year. Whereas 75 percent of exhibitors at Musikmesse 2011 rated the economic situation as being satisfactory to good, the figure for this year is somewhat lower at 72 percent. “This means that taking part in the fair is more important than ever”, said Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt GmbH, summarising the situation. “That the Musikmesse concept is on the right track is shown by the increase in the proportion of exhibitors saying they had achieved their goals for the fair – the percentage of exhibitors rating the Musikmesse as having been ‘satisfactory to extremely satisfactory’ rose by one percentage point to 80 percent” added Braun.
The exhibitors taking part in Musikmesse 2012 did so with great confidence in their brands, their presentations and the fair as the most important platform for the sector. Once again, Musikmesse underscored its exceptional position as the leading international showcase of the musical-instrument sector.
After Germany with 553 exhibitors, the most important exhibitor nations were the USA (145), the People’s Republic of China (132), Italy (91), Great Britain (87), Spain (58), France (46), Switzerland (34) and Korea (34).
This assessment is supported by the exhibitor rating for Musikmesse 2012. Overall, 72 percent of them said they were satisfied to extremely satisfied with the results of the fair. From the exhibitors’ point of view, the fair gained ground particularly in terms of visitor quality. The proportion of exhibitors rating this criterion as having been ‘satisfactory to extremely satisfactory’ rose from 60 to 63 percent and, in fact, the percentage of visitors with decision-making authority by 3 percent points to 36 percent.
The trade associations taking part also agreed with this assessment of Musikmesse as the most important trade fair for the sector. For Gerhard A. Meinl, Chairman of the German Federation of the Music Industry and Event Technology (Dachverband Musikwirtschaft und Veranstaltungstechnik e.V. – DVMV), “This year’s Musikmesse was transformed into an order fair. For us, this is not just a post-crisis effect but a completely new and encouraging signal. Clearly, retailers have regained their confidence in brands and are stocking up with an eye to the long term, too. This was apparent in the case of customers from both home and abroad. In our opinion, there has been a significant increase in demand from new customers from inside and outside Germany.”
The visitor structure of Musikmesse 2012 confirms this trend. More trade visitors have decision-making authority and come from the executive and top-management levels of their companies. Thus, the proportion of visitors with purchasing responsibility rose by 2 percentage points to 42 percent. The proportion of managers also rose somewhat – by five percentage points to 36 percent. Moreover, Musikmesse once again received top marks from visitors in response to the important question about their degree of satisfaction with the fair – 95 percent of visitors said they were satisfied to extremely satisfied with the fair in terms of objectives achieved.
On the visitor side, the most important visitor nations after Germany were The Netherlands, France, Italy, Great Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria and Sweden. Visitors from outside Germany accounted for 35 percent of the total of 68,587 visitors to this year’s Musikmesse (2011: 75,211) and thus demonstrated yet again the fair’s high level of internationality.
Daniel Knöll, Director of SOMM – Society of Music Merchants e.V. – also sees Musikmesse as having confirmed its leading position for the sector because, “This year’s Musikmesse demonstrated yet again that it is the international meeting place for the music business. As in the past, it clearly showed manufacturers, distributors and the retail trade that musical instruments will continue to be in demand in the future and that the trend towards active music making continues to grow.”
One of the most important aspects of Musikmesse 2012 was the integration of the music industry and the live-entertainment business into the fair. Thus, representatives of the sector had the opportunity to discuss subjects relating to music industry, the recording business, publishing, rights management and music at the Musikbiz Lounge & Congress. The result, with the participation of personalities from the politics, commerce and the trade associations, was a lively exchange of information and ideas. The Musikbiz exhibition area in Hall 4.1 was also characterised by growth. For example, Musicload, one of the biggest portals for legal music downloads, took part in Musikmesse for the first time under the aegis of VUT-Mitte, the regional group of the Association of Independent Music Companies (Verband unabhängiger Musikunternehmen – VUT) for Central Germany. “We are very pleased with our participation in this year’s Musikmesse in Frankfurt and would like to thank VUT-Mitte for their cooperation on the joint stand”, said Sascha Heinen, Head of Musicload & DT Music. “This was the main port of call for music lovers and consumers, as well as for partners and content suppliers from the music industry. Against this multi-faceted background, we were able to conduct numerous stimulating discussions and benefit from future-oriented impulses.” Additional cultural-policy impulses were generated by the ‘Neue Musikzeitung’ and its stage in Hall 3.1. Theo Geissler, CEO of Conbrio Verlag: “With the concept for our exhibition stand, we added a cultural and social policy component to the business side of the fair. The concept worked very well and great interest was shown in the events on our stand.”
Another focal point was in the supra-event presentation of the production, broadcasting and recording product segment. Thanks to a special filter in the online search engine and a printed ‘Quickfinder’, it was possible to find exhibitors in this segment at both Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound quickly and easily – a service that proved to be very popular among exhibitors and visitors.
As every year, Musikmesse is not only the most important trade fair for the musical-instrument industry, it is also an event that spotlights live music. More than 1,000 concerts, autograph sessions, workshops and product demonstrations on the stages around the fair and on the exhibitors’ stands made Musikmesse and Frankfurt the music capital of the world. However, the emphasis there is not just on established stars but also on young musicians and musical education for children and young people. And then there were the numerous awards for musicians, companies and personalities from the sector, as well as gala events.
On the eve of the fair, Musikmesse was officially opened with the PRG Live Entertainment Award Gala event in the ‘Festhalle’ of Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre. With numerous celebrities from politics and show business, stars presented awards to the people behind the scenes. Also during the Gala Evening at the ‘Festhalle’, guitarist and composer John McLaughlin was presented with the Frankfurt Music Prize for his services to music making by the sponsors, the City of Frankfurt, Messe Frankfurt and the Federal Association of German Musical Instrument Manufacturers (Bundesverband der Deutschen Musikinstrumenten-Hersteller e. V. - BDMH). His sheer musicality and obvious delight in playing when he performed during the ceremony left no doubt that this was an excellent choice.
Among the other awards presented during this year’s Musikmesse was the German Musical Instrument Award. During a special ceremony, Ernst Burgbacher, Secretary of State in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie – BMWi) presented certificates to three musical-instrument makers from Saxony and three from Bavaria. This year, the award was given in the cello and Renaissance lute categories.
With the Musikmesse International Press Award (MIPA), journalists from more than 100 special-interest magazines honoured the best products of the musical instrument and pro-audio sectors. Other awards included the Best Edition Award for outstanding sheet-music publications; the PPVMedien Reader Awards, for which readers of ‘Soundcheck’, ‘Keys’, ‘Tastenwelt’, ‘Drumheads’ and ‘Guitar’ magazines vote for the best products in a variety of categories; the DJTools Award, which honours the best products in the field of DJ technology; and the European School Music Prize, which is presented for innovative examples of creative, methodical work in class teaching or school working groups. The drums.de Music Award was also presented on the PRG Stage in the ‘Festhalle’ and went to musicians in several different categories.
Aimed at tomorrow’s musicians and music lovers, the Music4Kids participatory exhibition gave children and young people an opportunity to discover and try out musical instruments and sound installations. And over 8,000 of them took advantage of this during the Musikmesse week. A highlight on the Saturday of the fair was the finale of the SchoolJam competition for school bands with eight groups contending for the title of ‘Germany’s Best School Band’ on the huge PRG Stage. At this, the 10th edition of the competition, the coveted title was won by ‘Casting Louis’, a band from Achim in North Germany. More elegant was the atmosphere of the concert of the German Pianist Award in the ‘Alte Oper’ concert house. The winner was Lukas Geniusas, who beat his fellow nominees with a spectacular demonstration of his piano-playing skills.
More exhibitor opinions about Musikmesse 2012
“Musikmesse 2012 has been very successful for AVID. Traffic on the show floor has been energetic and quite steady, and the reaction to AVID’s major products released recently, including Pro Tools 10, Pro Tools Express and Sibelius 7, have been outstanding. Overall, a very positive experience that allows us to get in contact, once again, with our loyal and enthusiastic customers.”
Lee Whitmore, Marketing Director for Consumer and Education, AVID
“Musikmesse has been the most important fair for us since we started exhibiting here. Every year, we welcome new customers to our stand and our participation in the fair has resulted in many long-term business relationships. We saw all important and international customers during the fair.”
Lothar Semmlinger, violin maker, Lothar Semmlinger - Meisterbetrieb für Streichinstrumente
“For us, Musikmesse is the foremost event for the sector. Here, we meet all our sales partners. And our expectations were met in full this year, too. Many visitors come to our stand – most of them from Europe.”
Maurício Odery, CEO, Odery Drums
“For us, Musikmesse is the venue for meeting our sales partners and customers. It is the ideal setting for doing business. Although the all-embracing, international range of products is huge, it is still possible to create a personal atmosphere. We like it here very much and are pleased with the results.”
Chris Martin, Chairman & CEO, C.F. Martin & CO. Inc
An overview of the latest trends at Musikmesse 2012:
Guitars / basses
No clear trend could be discerned in the electric-guitar segment. Both Fender and Gibson models continue to be in demand. Increasingly, however, manufacturers in the middle price segment are having difficulties because the two big companies have now launched instruments with traditional names in this price category.
Very popular was the Vintage Show of instruments dating from the beginnings to the early seventies. And this interest was not diminished by prices ranging into six figures.
As every year, the portfolios presented by the major manufacturers, such as Marshall, Fender, Mesa/Boogie, Vox, Engl and Blackstar, were dominated by top models, including the speakers and combo amps. Mini amps are becoming bigger and more flexible. In contrast to the past when the scene was dominated by puristic 5 Watt amps, modern units now have around 15 Watts, two channels and, in some cases, even a control option via midi.
Acoustic guitars are growing in size. Following the popularity of small parlour guitars in recent years, the focus is now on guitars with a medium-sized body. At the same time, there are significantly fewer guitars with the previously omnipresent cutaway. Nevertheless, many instruments come fitted with a pick-up system. The trend to ukuleles noticed in recent years continues unabated.
More and more PA manufacturers are forcing their way onto the acoustic-amplification market – a good example is HK-Audio with its LUCAS Nano 300. In many cases, these systems with their built-in mixing consoles represent the ideal solution for ambitious acoustic guitarists.
An unequivocal trend is also difficult to discern in the bass field. As in previous years, classic models, such as Precision and Jazz (Fender), remain popular. However, modern premium basses are gaining ground. Striking in this connection is the renaissance of headless models, which can be seen here and there.
Bass amplifiers have become lighter and more powerful with 1,000 Watts from around two kilograms being standard. Nevertheless, anyone looking for genuine valve technology will not be disappointed. For example, Fender has revived its Bassman series – a series characterised by high prices and high weights.
Drums / percussion
This year’s presentations focused on the manufacturers’ attention to detail, and several companies stood out with well thought-out innovations, such as the Airlifter hardware from DW and the Jojo Mayer Signature Bassdrum Pedal from Sonor. It is evident that more and more companies are banking on custom drums, which means that young drummers can put together their sets to suit their own requirements and, to a certain extent, give the set that personal touch. Many manufacturers also believe that less is sometimes more and have reduced the number of models to make their portfolios more transparent. There were some new cymbal series to be seen. And there have been changes in the world of e-drums, too with Roland, for example, having renewed its complete range.
On the percussion side, cajóns continue to be ‘in’. Indeed, some manufacturers, such as Meinl and Sonor, have gone over to making high-quality instruments with special features or supplementary elements.
Surprise, surprise - Casio is back in the synthesizer business and aims to take up where it left off in the eighties and generate new impulses in the market with its XW-G1 and XW-P1 models. Common features of the two new products include step sequencer, arpeggiator & phrase sequencer and solo synth with six monophonic oscillators. Additionally, the XW-P1, which is designed for live performances, comes with a drawbar section and multi-layer function (Hex Layer) while the XW-G1 is predestined to be a groove and loop specialist. Weighing less than 5.5 kg, both instruments are extremely light and can also be battery operated. New in the synthesizer market, Studiologic has launched the Sledge, which produces sound using DSP modelling technology from synth specialists Waldorf. Roland, which premièred the Jupiter 80 at the last Musikmesse, followed up this year with the smaller Jupiter 50. Also from Roland is a new range of digital pianos represented by three models of the HP 500 series supplemented by the compact RP301 and the elegant LX-15 in classic upright piano look. The features include ‘SuperNatural’ sound production – 88 key multisampling supplemented by modelling technology from the V-Piano – and an ‘Ivory-Feel’ keyboard with a third sensor for key acceleration. At Yamaha, the latest piano highlight is the NU1, a hybrid piano with digital sound generation and a complete piano mechanism in the tradition of the GranTouch models.
Interesting new products were to be seen in the stage-piano category: for its Physis Piano, Italian manufacturer Viscount has combined sampling with physical modelling. Clavia has expanded its range of stage pianos to include the Nord Piano 2 HA88 while Ketron launched the GP-1 Classic Grand and Studiologic the lightweight Numa Compact (8 kg).
GEWA, the traditional manufacturer of guitars, drums and wind instruments from Germany’s Vogtland district, has added digital pianos to its portfolio. The series of three models presented at Musikmesse are distinguished by high sound quality and ultra-modern features for the complete spectrum from classical to rock and pop performances.
Little progress was to be seen in the arranger-keyboards segment. The only highlight was the ‘Tyros 4 10th Anniversary Special Edition’, a special model of the Tyros 4 in black with matching speakers and an extended range of sounds in a limited edition of 2,500 worldwide. With this instrument, Yamaha is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Tyros series. Additionally, the company is once again paying increased attention to the market for learners with the lighted-keys EZ-220 keyboard. Of interest to both keyboard learners and stage musicians is the Roland BK-5. Also notable is the Korg MicroArranger. For its top model, the Pa3X, Korg has announced an extensive update that will permit the style to be edited at will.
Compact, with numerous functions and easy to operate were important themes at this year’s Musikmesse. And this was also applicable to manufacturers of PA systems. Two new products launched at the fair – the L.U.C.A.S. Nano 300 from HK Audio and Yamaha’s DXR series – epitomise this trend by being extremely compact and flexible at the same time as producing a great volume. Another extremely important aspect is compatibility to iPhone, iPad and iPod. In the case of several products, the iPad constitutes the heart of the mixing console with, in some cases, all parameters being controlled by the tablet computer. The companies already active in this field over recent years have now been joined by others including Mackie, Allen & Heath and Alto Professional. An increasingly important role is being played by compact but powerful column systems and the modern PA scene is scarcely conceivable without them.
Recording / music production
Familiar technologies form the basis of the numerous new products presented in all relevant segments. Compared to last year, there has been a significant increase in opportunities for using mobile communication / multi-media equipment for music production, e.g., for connecting microphones, measurement microphones, instruments, keyboards, and as remote control devices for software and mixing consoles. In the software field, many major producers introduced updates for Windows and Mac OS computers. Also to be seen were new producers of DAWs and plug-ins with innovative functions. The trend towards reproducing analogue sound formation by software continues unabated. In turn, the range of digital signal networks has increased. Although there were no revolutionary developments in the field of analogue production technology, many companies presented improvements in detail and upgrades for new products in categories such as microphones, studio loudspeakers, summing mixers and signal processors.
The next Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound trade fairs will be held in Frankfurt am Main from 10 to 13 April 2013.
Debut in Moscow: Messe Frankfurt and the US National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) are cooperating for the first time to première; NAMM Musikmesse Russia and Prolight + Sound NAMM Russia from 16 to 19 May 2012.
Music China and Prolight + Sound Shanghai will take place from 11 to 14 October 2012.