While the USA was in the throes of a debt limit crisis, the Music China show in Shanghai was proceeding with a steady flow of international traffic and business.  The show, which took place from October 10-13, set a new record number of exhibitors at the Shanghai New International Expo Center.  Over 1,680 exhibitors along with 500 others at the concurrent ProLight & Sound show make the event one of the largest in the world.  It provided a worldwide view of some of the newest products, software, and trends in the market.  There were 29 countries represented at the show, which included first time companies from Greece, Israel, and Pakistan.  Countries with dedicated pavilions included Belgium, Czech Republic,  France, Finland, Germany, and numerous others.

In a welcome speech by Mr. An Zhi, president of the China Musical Instrument Association, he indicated that the due to the still challenging world economic situation that the “export delivery value grew by 2.11% in 2012, and that it only increased to 2.21% in the first half of 2013.”   However, there are bright spots.  In contrast to conventions in other parts of the world, there was a surprisingly large increase of nearly 50% in the number of keyboard exhibitors which reflects the up and coming market for those products in Asia.  Lothar Kiesche of Schimmel Pianofortefabrik, an exhibitor at the Fair, reflected that the Asian markets present a strong growth opportunity especially compared to the challenging markets in many Western nations.  Dr. Christian Bluthner of Bluthner Pianofortefabrik from Germany reflected a similar opinion in that countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and some other Euro nations are facing very difficult times, with Germany, the USA, and the UK holding steady, China presents a significant upside for piano companies.

A broad number of international attendees come to the show in order to source OEM products for their lines, but more and more, there are North American and European companies exhibiting and selling into the Chinese market.  Gary Mobley of Shubb Capos who was exhibiting at the show mentioned that the Chinese market is a growing segment of their business, and that they are, at this point, working with more large dealers rather than exclusive distributors.  They are here to develop their brand’s exposure in the market and to show that their quality is superior to that of copies on the market, especially with their new patented roller capos.   Terry Warburton of Warburton products showed a unique new plastic trumpet which has some unique opportunities in the market for younger students as well as marching bands and other applications.  Levy’s Leathers’ Harvey Levy discussed the fact that he is able to stay connected with his major distributors from countries like Indonesia, Australia, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam as well as China and that there is tremendous growth ahead for these important markets.

At the NAMM CMIA Industry Forum, industry leaders from numerous companies and trade organizations discussed the important connections between musical instrument manufacturing, retailing and music education.  The speakers included Larry Morton of Hal Leonard Corp, Betty Haywood of NAMM, Antoine Beaussant of Buffet Crampon, and numerous others.  NAMM also held their NAMM University sessions on a variety of topics related to running a successful musical instrument business.  A variety of outdoor concerts took place during the four day conference and included highlights when Jody Espina of Jody Jazz performed his virtuosic sax licks, and also when Harvey Levy joined the band from Saga Musical Instruments to perform their signature bluegrass style music. 

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