Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound 2019: A Changing Show Grapples with its Identity

Christian Wissmuller • May 2019MMR GlobalShow Report • May 7, 2019

That the Musikmesse gathering has been going through a challenging “transitional period” for the past few years is no secret. Anyone who visited the show 10 or 15 years ago would likely be fairly shocked at the degree to which the event has contracted. The team over at Messe Frankfurt continues to tinker with the format and schedule, though, and there were unquestionable bright spots at this year’s convention, even if the raw numbers are down, somewhat.

The organization reports that a total of more than 85,000 visitors made their way to Messe Frankfurt (down from just over 90,000 last year), while around 25,000 music fans enjoyed Musikmesse Festival events at a variety of clubs and hotels in Frankfurt. It’s further noted that emphasis on the exchange of ideas and information between specialists from the music and event business resulted in a high proportion of trade visitors – 76 percent – 45 percent of which are described as “top managers.” More than 50 percent of the trade visitors came from outside Germany, from 130 countries from Iceland to New Zealand.

However, many attendees and exhibitors noted the conspicuous absence of a number of “big name” brands. The electric guitar hall, for example, was particularly anaemic this year.

Messe Frankfurt remains optimistic, however, and note the ways in which the overall event was a success. “In five days, we have revealed the direction being taken by consumption and production in the music and entertainment business: towards greater dynamism, diversity and digitalisation. This was not only demonstrated by the large number of exhibitors and artists at the Exhibition Centre but also throughout the whole city. Together with partners from the industry, the creative business and the music scene, we will continue to take up the complex challenges facing the sectors and generate value added for them with our two trade fairs,” says Detlef Braun, member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt.

Prolight + Sound

Prolight + Sound – once sort of the “afterthought” when compared to the then-bigger Musikmesse – has really come into its own and the halls were consistently quite active. The show illustrated the innovative strength of the entertainment industry with spectacular product presentations and an even more extensive professional-development program. Clear was the trend to IP-based transmission technology: complex media installations and stage set-ups are increasingly being controlled via central networks and thus promoting the spread of the Internet of Things in the event business. “The trend to connectivity is now really gaining ground and opening up completely new perspectives for us and our sector,” says Gunnar Eberhardt, head of Entertainment & Architecture Lighting at Osram GmbH. “We are very pleased with this year’s Prolight + Sound. It is the world’s most professional fair for the entertainment sector and has the broadest audience of visitors. With our products, we cover all parts of the entertainment-lighting segment: from show and theatre, via museums, to façade lighting. Here in Frankfurt, we meet the right people and customers for all areas of applications, and that from all over the world.”

For the first time, the new Hall 12 was integrated into Prolight + Sound. The Exhibition Centre’s biggest and most modern hall was deemed a great success among exhibitors confirmed Sabine Siller, marketing manager of cast C. Adolph & RST Distribution GmbH: “We like Hall 12 very much and it provided the perfect setting for our ‘Cast & Friends’ area. The proximity to our partners generated unrivalled synergies. This is also because Prolight + Sound is the fair with the most international brands on show.”

LED technology has been a vital driving force for growth in the sector for many years – and there seems to be no limit in sight on the positive development of this market segment. For example, suppliers of big screens and video walls benefited from the impetus of the sector at Prolight + Sound: “We are more than pleased with the result: our exhibition stand was very busy on all four days and we welcomed numerous international trade visitors. Particularly impressive was the high visitor standard. The advisory and sales discussions showed clearly that Prolight + Sound is the right place for us and the ideal business networking platform. We will certainly be back again in 2020,” said Christoph Pfäffle of Unilumin Germany GmbH.

Upcoming Anniversaries

In 2020 Musikmesse will celebrate its 40th birthday and Prolight + Sound its 25th. Messe Frankfurt plans to soon announce details of the event concepts for next year, which “take the best possible account of the needs of manufacturers and professional market participants in the dynamic environment of today’s market.”

Further information about Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound can be found at www.musikmesse.com andwww.prolight-sound.com.


Voices from the Show Floor

“We had a successful show, meeting with customers and publishing partners from throughout Europe and the world. We found business to be strong with many of our customers and we were pleased with the results of the show, particularly in our educational and local-language publications. Following last year’s announcement of our acquisition of the print music publishing division of Music Sales Limited, we had a much bigger and stronger offering of products at this year’s Messe.

“However, we do have concerns about the long-term health of the Musikmesse show. With many larger MI suppliers not exhibiting, along with the Tuesday-Friday schedule, we found the overall show traffic and attendance to be less that last year. We’re hopeful that next year will be a better overall show in terms of attendance and exhibitors.”

– Larry Morton, Hal Leonard


“Musikmesse suffers from an identity crisis and the fact that it is, sadly, no longer an end-user oriented event. It suffers from this. Having been involved in manufacturing for 25 years, communicating directly with end-users is very important and it is the best way to get the message across to people correctly – doubly so with new technology. Although it was Austrian Audio’s first show, most of us have been going to shows for at least a couple of decades. Although a lot of fun once set up, they are hugely complex affairs. We’re lucky to have a team that shares the same goals and everything worked out really well.”

– Kent Iverson, Austrian Audio


“C.F. Martin & Co. has been exhibiting at the Frankfurt Musikmesse for decades – indeed, this year’s was Chris Martin’s 30th show. We’ve always seen the show as an important event to engage with our distributors – particularly in smaller territories that don’t usually attend winter NAMM. Musikmesse has always served as a platform for some World or European product launches. Recent years, however, have seen what appeared to be a decline in attendance figures, coupled with feelings that the show is losing some of its identity and focus as a trade show. We have seen some of our key competitors withdraw completely, or drastically reduce their presence at the show, which is something of a two-edged sword for us. Losing A-Brands from the list of exhibitors is bound to affect attendance figures and give rise to questions about the importance of the show. On the other hand, being the only A-brand acoustic manufacturer exhibiting results in a busy booth and plenty of attention from attendees and press. No decision for [whether we exhibit at] next year’s show has been made yet.”

– Steve Harvey, C.F. Martin & Co.


“We need an EU trade show – period. Until someone figures that out I will be pushing to do the regional shows and trying to budget to visit dealers as much as possible. Showing up is half the battle. The EU market is different than the U.S. You cannot just expect the same results. From a sales perspective the best thing you can do is listen to your trusted dealers and do your best to respond to the individual market’s needs. We will see what they offer for next year.

“Honestly we had a great show. I closed some deals and had some great meetings. But the absence for the ‘big guys’ that draw the real crowds was felt. We are still the brand that people say, “Cool… I have heard of this stuff. Happy I get to try it out.” But you know, manufacturers need ROI on events like this. We need dealers to be there. It is a trade show… you know? We need to trade!”

– Scott Thompson, The Music Link


“There was business there to do… not a lot, but the companies who were there got the business. I had some interesting contacts. The attrition of companies is somewhat devastating. There were not as many international companies… it is becoming more of a European show, perhaps? Unfortunately, I never felt like I was that much [exposed to the] public, although that might be because I missed the information about the Saturday [events], which were well-attended from what I could see when I stopped in. I don’t have any idea what people are going to do next year. Would I go again next year? With a tiny booth, maybe.”

– Mary Faith Rhoads-Lewis, Breezy Ridge Instruments, Ltd.

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