The Major Music Fair Shows
Music trade shows are platforms that allow all players within the music industry to come together – be it musicians, music aficionados, educators, buyers or entrepreneurs. Every single aspect of the industry has a place in these shows, from sheet music to music marketing, production and music technology.
We’ve visited many international music trade shows over the past few years, raising awareness about the huge benefits of digital sheet music for the 21st century orchestra and musician. Below, we’ve listed our favorite shows, and a few of the things we’ve learned along the way.
1. The NAMM Show – The Star
If there is ONE event that should not be missed, this is the one.
The show is organized by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), the trade association of the international music products industry. The NAMM show takes place every January in Anaheim, California. NAMM’s motto – “Believe in Music” – is truly reflected in this event, with more than 1,700 exhibitors presenting their products, attendees from 125 different countries and regions from around the world, and an estimated combined purchasing power of $10.7 billion by registered global companies.
Some say attending this show is like being a kid in a candy store: attendees – whether they be musicians, music professionals, educators or retailers – are surrounded by a dizzying array of offerings, products and music stars. [I would make the next part more personal, assuming this is what happened to you when you attended?] When we attended the conference in [insert year], we randomly bumped into the Yamaha Corporation CEO, discovered the newly released Marshall guitars, and attended some amazing performances at the Hilton Hotel, which has recently been converted into a spectacular concert hall.
It’s important to note that the show is only open to visitors on specific days. If you missed the last show and don’t feel like waiting another year for the next instalment, NAMM also organizes a second, smaller annual show, the Summer NAMM, which mainly revolves around guitar.
2. MusikMesse – The Mainstay
MusikMesse is the most well-known music trade fair in Europe. Considered to be the top international trade fair for musical instruments, sheet music, music production and marketing, Musikmesse is held every year in April in the city of Frankfurt, Germany. It attracts the same types of exhibitors, buyers, educators and visitors as the NAMM show. In 2016, it hosted more than 1,000 exhibitors from 52 different countries and about 64,000 visitors. As a bonus, Musikmesse is more accessible to visitors than the NAMM show.
MusikMesse is organized by The Messe Frankfurt Group which also co-organizes other worldwide conventions such as NAMM Musikmesse Russia and Music China. Sadly, since the 2015 edition, Musikmesse has had to reduce its exhibition area, apparently due to budget constraints.
Although, the NAMM show has become the darling of the global music industry, Tobias Kuehlmann, one of the main organizers of Musikmesse, told us that “both events have reason to coexist and they each have their own importance, as they are both held in strong, traditional markets with great music cultures”. We only hope the music industry agrees – and continues to agree – with Tobias.
3. Music China – The Newcomer
Music China is the rising star among trade shows – which isn’t surprising as the music industry is increasingly looking toward Asia for inspiration.
Organized for the first time in 2002, the 2015 edition gathered more than 80,000 visitors, 1,700 exhibitors. Most major players in the music industry count among the exhibitors, including Yamaha, Casio, Taylor Guitars, Selmer, Pearl, Marshall and Samick.
So why is this show worth attending? The answer is easy – for a chance to meet music professionals from China and Asia, a rapidly developing and promising market. Visitors will also get to discover brands and products that can’t be found anywhere else in the world and attend the most innovative, cutting-edge conferences. Anyone can attend, and it is truly worth the trip!
A word of warning though – this recent newcomer to the music trade world may contribute to a polarization of the industry, with westerners exclusively attending the NAMM show and easterners focusing on Music China.
Although these three trade shows are the largest and most innovative shows in the global music industry today, there are many other regional fairs that are definitely worth visiting, starting with our French protégé Midem.
Have you attended one of those fairs? We’d love to hear your own experience and feedback!
And if you feel we’ve left out some important shows from this article, feel free to get in touch and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.