The Sad Decline Of DJing At Musikmesse 2017


The DJCon at Musikmesse / Prolight + Sound 2017. Do we really need this kind of promotion in DJing in this day and age?

The DJ part of the 2017 Musikmesse was a strange non-event. What had once been a huge, busy event with lots of new gear on show appeared to be no more. Instead we got a boring, tiny and frankly tacky little room with very little of interest in it.

Aside for a second from the fact that there was nothing at all new at the show for DJs to speak of, the new-look "DJCon" room frankly felt like an afterthought, a startup show, and a poor one at that.

A few brands bravely soldiered on but seriously, you could have been in and out of the DJ part in five minutes and missed nothing. So many big brands were missing, those who were there were drastically scaled down. NAMM it certainly wasn't. If I'd have been a paying punter, I'd have been asking for my money back.

Worse, it was embarrassing. Leggy girls in tight tops and high heels giving out magazines. Do we really need that, in 2017, folks? Unbelievably, there was even a large stand dishing out some kind of "elixir" to help men attract women. Right in the DJ hall. Maybe that was a joke I didn't get, but I think it was serious. It was pretty bad taste, whatever; more like a throwback to the worst 1970s mobile disco culture than the exciting modern DJ/producer world I recognise.

At a time when DJing has seriously grown up, with amazing talent coming through, and great gear available for the modern DJ to play, remix and produce on, do we really need sexism and tackiness shoved in our faces like this? It felt like the room was demeaning the whole art of DJing, and I felt a little embarrassed for the organisers, and sad for the lone female DJ I saw playing a set opposite that "elixir" stand.

The organisers surely need to act fast if they want to turn this around: They need to strike attractive deals with all the companies that stayed away to get them back, get the DJ exhibitors mixed in with the studio and production equipment as they used to be (after all, DJing and production overlap hugely nowadays) and ditch the sexism and tackiness - DJing moved past that decades ago.

While we got lots of interesting stories, did some great interviews, met some wonderful people and had a thoroughly good time, it was in spite of the "DJCon", not because of it. A real shame. I wonder if they can rescue it?

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  1. DJ Vintage says:

    I already thought last years show was not the upgrade it pretended to be with new hall lay-out and such.

    Work obligations meant no ProLight+Sound for me this year and I was sad about that. It appears I really don't need to be. Although I do miss seeing you Phil 😀

    So, effectively the proper name for that room should have been DJ Con then?

    • Ha ha well I wouldn't go that far. I mean, they can't help it if people don't book stands I suppose - plus of course they are now seemingly a bit unsure as to whether they're a trade fair or open to the public. It seems to have lost direction, that's for sure. But they can help the tackiness. If I were a piano player, drummer or whatever walking past that hall on the way to my part of the expo and I poked my head through to see what was going on in the world of DJing, I'd have got the total wrong impression. Maybe that's half of the problem.

  2. Rodrigo Costa says:

    Fully agree there Phil, it was bad. What I hear a lot is that somehow online blogs like yours (and mine) are being blamed for the decline of interest in trade fairs (people don't want to come anymore because they can check out all the new gear on Youtube), but that to me is just an excuse to not find a way to make it work. There are, at least in my mind, many ways to make it interesting and fresh and both Musikmesse & manufacturers need to get creative. Because frankly, I won't be making the trip for this kind of non-event ever again.

    • If so though, why is NAMM so busy and why is BPM such a great show? Why does ADE do well, and Sonar? Why do new events like the Brighton Music Convention get a buzz around them? Why is Superbooth on everyone's lips right now? People still want to touch and feel new gear, but if even bloggers like you and I (and we're not the only ones) feel it's not worth coming, where does the show get its publicity from?

      • DJ Vintage says:

        Even DanceFair, though producer-targeting more than DJ, is a well-visited event for it's size I think.

        Also, while it's a good and well to see Phil and others evaluate and review gear and see moving images and hear sounds, there is no substitute for hands on.

        Most definitely trade shows need to reinvent themselves, some have succesfully. PL+S has changed for the worse so far. Although I know some exhibitors who'd disagree, they are just not the DJ-ing kind :-).

  3. Perhaps it's too close and too soon after Utrecht's Dance Fair in the Netherlands? (Feb 2017)
    Have you been there? Often a lot of gear, good workshops and worth the trip
    Good luck

    • Maybe... funnily DJ Vintage (first comment above) was there this year.

      • DJ Vintage says:

        Doubt it, two different events altogether. However, the format of DancFair (lots of chances to enlighten yourself with an opportunity to see/test some gear as well (which is true for BPM as well with an extensive workshop program) is clearly reaching an audience. Typical trade shows - just toss a bunch of gear in booths and presto! - might no longer cut it.

        I can say I am glad that I am not in the trade event organizing business though.

  4. DJ Vintage says:

    For what it's worth ... I just heard back from some of my other Dutch contacts that returned (early!) from the show. One of them is more into the live/recording sound, PA and instrument side of things and he qualified the show as exceptionally bad overall, with many of the expected brands glaringly absent. The only thing that seemed to be set up properly, visited well and somewhat professional was the lighting hall. Even there the big shows were no longer present, everything smaller than previous years.

    It seems that most manufacturers showed up last year to see how the changes would work out (which according to myself and others I've talked to wasn't all that grand) and have now decided not to spend their money there this year.

    Perhaps the folks in Frankfurt need to take a close look at Amsterdam's ISE show in January. It's been growing for years now and gets high accolades.

  5. Ralph Deonarine says:

    Interesting summary would seem as if the planning team for Musikmesse need a good proverbial spanking. How much of the event actually seemed well executed, I wonder? Or perhaps you're looking at it from too much of a purist's perspective, maybe they've lowered their standards on purpose...I myself am refusing to believe this as I am typing here, but it's so crazy of a thought that it may very well be true.

    Either way, these guys need to get their act together. I hope someone in charge sees your (and others here) comments and they conduct a proper de-brief of the event. And they should really look at what makes NAMM et al so successful...either that or poach their entire planning team.

  6. DJ Vintage says:

    It used to be a Wednesday thru Friday trade only show, with the Saturday being open to the general public (fathers pushing baby strollers LOL). Last year they threw the whole thing around and it's now a day earlier and open to the general public all the time.

    I have spoken several visitors, all people with different angles to visit and at least two exhibitors and none of them said nice things about the show, so I am pretty sure it's not Phil's purist perspective.

    As for the folks at the MusikMesse noticing ... I got a PR mail saying how wonderful it was, and what great feedback and customer satisfaction ratings they got. Go figure eh.

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