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Music China 2018: Global MI Market Converges on the ‘Pearl of the Orient’

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • November 2018
  • Show Report
• Created: November 5, 2018

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A record number of attendees and exhibitors were on hand at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre this October for the annual Music China gathering.

With a reported 110,381 visitors from 81 countries and regions visiting 2,252 international and domestic exhibitors – a respective increase of 5.0% and 5.4% compared to the 2017 show – Asia’s largest MI trade show exhibits no sign of slowing down. The show’s exhibition space also was bigger this year, having grown 10.4% to 452,756 square feet across 12 halls.

“We couldn’t be happier with how the show has gone this year,” said Judy Cheung, deputy general manager of Messe Frankfurt Shanghai Co. Ltd. Outlining which areas of the show provided the best results, she added, “Our live performance stages have been busier than ever before, and people seem to love the combination of getting business done in an engaging environment. We’re also satisfied with how our stronger focus on music education and culture has been positively received. The fringe event topics have drawn people to learn, share, and network more efficiently at the fairground.”


“This year’s Music China was better for BG with a more mature market that is educated about fakes and more open to comparing options, which are key points for accessories. Being European, I do not feel any difference due to the tension between America and China and wish the best to U.S. makers. I have been [attending] MI trade shows for over 30 years and traveling up to six months a year to show our products, but there is absolutely no need for too many shows. For woodwind accessories specialists, Russia Musikmesse is 95 percent, for rock and roll [related gear], Summer NAMM is great, but so useless for our market. Frankfurt is dead.

After doing it for 29 years, renting a booth, and coming with eight other employees it has become a no-man’s land and far too expensive. They’ve missed the boat to transform [the Show] into a “meet and talk” place. It’s too late to show new items for BTS, too expensive to display products mainly to small Eastern European markets, and they made lot of mistakes – cutting Sunday, charging too much to visitors, and all the changes have added confusion.

It’s too late now to have us changing our mind, although it could still be the most useful [trade show at which] to meet European agents, but it would need to be at a much more reasonable cost. Shanghai is the place to be – just like Winter NAMM. But nowadays

with internet and social media platforms, do we need two annual shows? I think we do need bi-annual MI trade shows, for sure: one year, Shanghai; one year NAMM. We see the same customers. I am confident the market will end up this way because it would be cost-effective for both exhibitors and visitors.”

Franck Bichon

BG Franck Bichon


“We did notice significant growth for Music China over the past decade. Not only has the number of exhibitors increased, but the show definitely feels better attended by qualified visitors both on the retail, supplier and consumer side. There is no doubt that the emerging markets in Asia contribute significantly to this change and for us here at Conn-Selmer this year had a very special touch, of course, as it is the first time we have had our own booth since we opened our distribution subsidiary company in April of this year.

“Everybody is naturally anxious to see where these developments are leading towards. The current escalation in tariffs is certainly not helping for the global trade with musical instruments, components, accessories and even raw material. Our industry is very connected across all borders and the potential impact on the business in both countries is definitely something we will have to watch closely.

“I don’t disagree that we may have some redundancy with our industry trade shows globally. And it is a considerable investment for all participating vendors and buyers to go to all these events. But on the other hand, we have always been a relationship industry and meeting your best partners, competitors and customers in person is not only important in order to stay in touch with each other but the face-to-face experience and communication is the very fabric our musical world is made of.”

Markus Theinert

Conn-Selmer, Inc.


“The show continues to be growing, and is attracting more and more customers and strategic partners of Hal Leonard’s – not only attendees from China and Southeast Asia, but also major players from Japan, Australia, Europe, and the U.S. have ben converging on Shanghai the last several years. The fact that Music China takes place during the second half of the year, it is distanced on the calendar from NAMM and Frankfurt, so it serves as an important timeframe to ‘touch base.’

“I didn’t sense any obvious vibe, per se, related to political tensions, but there were some discussions and concerns about how potential tariffs would impact pricing and/or potentially force the shifting of manufacturing and sourcing to other territories if required.

“Although NAMM has clearly risen to become the largest and most important international music products trade show over the last few years, it doesn’t seem like Music China has been negatively impacted by a decrease in attendance. Although there a much larger percentage of consumers in attendance, I can tell you that our booth was packed for the entire show, and we had a good amount of dealers, distributors, and publishing partners whom we met with throughout the show. As for the Frankfurt Musikmesse, the show has had struggles these last few years, due to a number of factors as we know, however Hal Leonard had an extremely productive Musikmesse based on our growing European business.”

Doug Lady

Hal Leonard


“I come to Music China because I know that I will be able to find every possible thing here, and still discover new products and people that I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else in Asia. The speed at which this show is growing is phenomenal. It’s all about having fun and meeting with the people who can boost your presence in your respective musical field.”

Hap Kuffner

Kuffner International


“It was the first time the Jammy Guitar team exhibited at Music China, so we can’t compare it to the previous fair. However, we had participated in both winter and summer NAMM Shows. So we definitely have some thoughts on how Music China differs from the main U.S. music industry event. Above all, we were impressed by the number of pavilions and the size of the area occupied by Music China – it was really huge compared to the NAMM Show. Although, the pavilions were crowded with visitors. Talking about the type of visitors, there were much more representatives of the educational sphere at Music China than at the NAMM Show, namely, music teachers.

“The other thing that was notably different at Music China is the number of stands with the traditional instruments. Chinese ethnic musical instruments occupied two separate pavilions – that’s incredible. At the NAMM Show, national instruments are less represented.

As it usually happens at the U.S. music fairs, several industry leaders have the biggest booths that stand out from the crowd. It’s interesting that we didn’t identify any distinct industry leader at Music China – most stands were roughly the same size. As we realized later, it reflects the market situation. According to recent data, there are 250 manufacturers present in China, with the top four accounting for only 12.7 percent of the total industry revenue, compared to over fifty percent in the U.S.

“To be honest, we didn’t feel any tense atmosphere – probably because China had been shifting towards the internal market for a long time. In 2017, export revenue declined to only 22.4 percent, compared to almost 70 percent in 2005, according to IBISWorld’s report. That’s why it seems to us that the external economic tensions are not a big deal for Chinese business. At least for those whom we met at Music China.

“I don’t really think that the music industry is overwhelmed with trade fairs. It is still a nice place for showcasing your product, networking, achieving a deeper understanding of the state of the music industry in a certain country, and getting valuable insights and feedback from consumers.”

Dmitry Shemet

Jammy Guitar

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