The Music Fair and the Prolight + Sound in Frankfurt am Main 2019 will be this year from 2 to 5 April, and this time there are a few thoughtful words to say:
“We are in the year 2019 AD. The whole musical world is filled with digital mouse leaders and pitiful auto-tune operators… The whole world? No! A small village in Hall 3 populated by indomitable musicians does not stop resisting the invaders. And life is not easy for the digital mercenaries who are crewed in the fortified camps in Hall 4, Hall 8 and Hall 12… ”
Let’s not fool ourselves: the Music Fair in Frankfurt, as we once knew and loved it, is dead. It no longer exists, with halls filled to the roof with instruments to marvel and touch, as it was nowhere else possible. At least two halls just full of guitars and basses, a whole hall and other areas only for the drums and percussion industry, two halls only for studio and microphone technology, a hall for the pure electric sound department, etc. One could walk around everywhere and talk to people you would never meet. Here in a Soundproof Cabin a jam session with the Red Hot Chili Peppers as if they were your neighbors. And on a stand that looked like a Viking ship sharing fun with rock stars from all over the world, as if they were all at your village pub as a guest. It was fantastic.
The longing for these times is unbelievably huge among the musicians. However, the Music Fair has long stopped beeing a home for that or can no longer afford it. Many manufacturers of classical instrument making guitar, bass, drums, piano can not afford the stand prices or don’t want to. There are still good workshops and performances, but here the former freedom in the chaos of a noisy sound clutter of the packed halls had to step aside to a taut plan that ultimately leads to picking a few raisins instead of discovering fantastic performances by chance. The rest is bored.
The concepts for the Music Fair have changed. Maybe the dealers are happier today than they used to, the musicians are deadly sorry. Everything that real musicians love about instruments has shrunk to one hall and inundated in abundance by cheap imitations from China. By contrast, the event industry of Prolight + Sound is growing.
Is this the future of the Music Fair?
It is a sad condition. It may be a reality that you have to face as a musician: The electro tinkers, mash up copyists and wannabe-musicians of click-the-button-fraction has taken over the world domination. As a true musician, you will not get any respect anymore. And the result of this evolution is reflected accordingly at the Music Fair.
Wolfgang Weyand, head of the Business Relations & Entertainment department, is now in his second year of reorganizing the Music Fair. And I want nothing more than that he convinces me to be wrong. I would like to be able to report that the Music Fair stands equally for good business of dealers and instrument makers and is again a legendary event of musicians for musicians.
Well, let’s see…
In addition to the melancholy criticism is noted:
Admittedly, the International Music Fair in Frankfurt am Main in 2019 will stage a number of absolutely top-class events on the exhibition grounds, in the Festhalle and in the city of Frankfurt. Stars and top instrumentalists present themselves and their instruments in workshops and master classes. In the overcrowded cabins, fans can get closer to instrumentalists and their idols than anywhere else. The Music Fair and Prolight + Sound, which is always on the same time, continue to have great things to offer. But unfortunately not enough, or with completely different priorities than most musicians want it.
Innovations: Of particular interest will be the newly created “Musikmesse Plaza“, a pop-up market with instruments, records, etc. that can be bought directly on site.
But the lack of large or really outstanding innovative manufacturers also makes my actual mission much more difficult than it used to be.
Musical instruments for people with disabilities
For years, I have been traveling the Music Fair Frankfurt to research instrument manufacturers who build or rebuild musical instruments especially for people with disabilities, or to talk to manufacturers about this topic and to sensitize them. Because, apart from the mass market, there are very few, very small companies that deal with the conversion of instruments for people with physical impairments or even invent such instruments. Otherwise, there are instruments with features that are helpful for a handicap. Thanks to my annual presence, I now receive occasional communications from manufacturers throughout the year who are even thinking about ways of producing instruments in the production process, and how they could be modified in small numbers without cost explosion. These wonderful intentions and ideas of the manufacturers should be kept going.
As far most musicians with disabilities or people with disabilities who want to learn an instrument, have to look around even after resourceful tinkerers who help them rebuild the instrument chosen for them, so it can be played by them, it would be a huge step forward, even if the big instrument manufacturers are also discovering a market for themselves that is not just about maximizing sales, but about support and participation.
I hope, I continue to hone the senses of the manufacturers to think about offers of special conversion options and optimizations on demand.
The new concept of the Musikmesse has finally led to drastic changes. Almost no major manufacturer is still on site. The well-known companies go other ways. There is no Guitar Camp or Drum Camp this year. Thus the Musikmesse is also called Musikmesse and no longer the International Fair for Musical Instruments and Sheet Music, Music Production and Music Marketing. The simultaneously running Prolight + Sound has remained. With that, I can no longer talk to manufacturers on the spot as far as instrument making for musicians with handicaps is concerned. Although Messe Frankfurt and the German Music Therapeutic Society (DMtG) have launched a new competition, the “New Therapy Instruments” competition, which focuses on the development of hand-crafted therapy instruments and new digital applications such as music apps be used in music therapy, or to offer easier access to music for people with disabilities or impairments. This award is currently worth 2,000 EUR. But a separate area in the exhibition halls is missing, where then exactly these manufacturers, instrument makers and developers who participated in the competition, show their instruments and you can talk to them. This must be criticized as a major omission.
Incidentally, people with handicaps will find important information about the Fair visit here: