Sadly our revenue doesn’t allow us to live a jet setting trade show to trade show existence, thus we need to be somewhat selective about the events that we attend. I’m way past VIP shindigs in far off places, and am actually much happier plodding the floor of a trade show like BPM 2019 — not to see the newest shiny (because that usually comes to us), but to see the friends I’ve made over the years. This year, it was all about discussing new ventures, which we did, and… well that’s for another time.
Last year, daughter Hatty and myself headed off to the less auspicious venue of Cranmore Park near Shirley, and much to our surprise loved it. It was definitely had a more conference with booths vibe than the old BPM. No stand builds, and the ability to hold a conversation on any stand were the order of that day.
This year, Dan and myself (both damaged and seasoned BPMers) ventured off down the M1 and M42 to see a refreshed set of organisers would build upon last year’s solid effort.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Having been to all kinds of shows over the last 16 years, we’ve become accustomed to what these events have to offer. And there was a marked difference in look and feel this year. The branding has been changed and uses the ID from the latter years of the BPM show, thankfully replacing last year’s somewhat retro stylings.
Once we’d made our way past the smiling but nonetheless imposing (think armed response unit more than suited doorman) security both inside and out, this year’s floor was altogether more what we’d call a DJ trade show than last year. It was definitely louder and darker, and absolutely reminiscent of original BPM events. There were no lavish stand builds as such, but definitely more trusses, smoke, and loud music than last year. I was absolutely transported back to the early days of the original BPM Show.
BPM definitely aims itself at the mobile market. A quick scan of the exhibitor list and subsequent attendees shows many of the usual suspects, but the vibe is definitely that of wedding and event DJs. The smoke and confetti explosions simple served to underline this. I don’t imagine that a scratch battle is likely to happen at BPM any time soon. And given the leanings of the target audience, I’m sure that some will be considering their attendance at the show next year at all. Indeed, Denon DJ’s established grip of the mobile market would have considered them a given for BPM. But not a single inMusic company was in attendance. Then again they have made a move away from dick out on the table stand builds, so perhaps it’s an indication of the industry, and in part why the original BPM struggled in the end.
I HAVE SUGGESTIONS
In some small way, the joy of last year’s rebirth is a tad muted this year. While it’s still quite low key, the signs are there that the current organisers may try to build the new show up to be something more. The attraction to go bigger is strong, but my fear is that it’ll lose this nice low key vibe, and will attempt to go down the somewhat more upscaled route of the old BPM.
Please don’t. It won’t work, because the industry is moving away from lavish trade shows in general. They don’t want to drop tens of thousands on stand builds that they can never hope to recoup. They can spend pennies and reach hundreds of thousands of potential customers with a carefully crafted social media message, that is delivered to their pockets and watched on the toilet without ever having to suffer the UK’s motorway network or give up a valuable day.
What I would love to see (and I suspect I’m not alone) is turning BPM into a DJ market with more than one retail outlet. Unless you’re NAMM, forget the idea of trade shows being the place where big product launches happen. The ship has sailed, and the internet is where everything is unleashed now. But trade shows (really should get used to calling them public shows) are ideal places to sell to DJs. You’ll need to offer discounts to get people there, but there’s nothing like watching a happy punter leave the show floor with a bargain and a grin.
I’ll put this out there too — retailers and manufacturers could run auctions of old and b stock. Publish a list before hand, and donate some of the proceeds to charity. If you to give DJs a reason to come to the show, especially on what is probably a work day, then this has a great chance of working.
THERE CAN BE ONLY… TWO?
The UK has generally had one DJ show at a time. PLASA was followed (for DJs at least) by the DJ Show North, which in turn was replaced by the original BPM, and now the new one. But there is another.
Last year, the DJ Show launched as… well I was going to say alternative to BPM, but there’s no reason why it can’t be a supplement to it. Being based at Newbury Racecourse and some 100 miles south of the BPM’s new home, this is most definitely one for southern DJs.
While I didn’t attend the first one (it’s 10 hour round trip from my house), it seems to have been well received, and fingers crossed should be better promoted this year. Vibe wise, it seems to be more like later BPMs with a plethora of different zones. And if this year’s inaugural show is anything to go by, interesting enough for inMusic companies to attend. After all, it’s relatively in their doorstep.
Welcome back BPM. My advice — establish your own look and feel. Consider expanding retail, and appeal to visitors rather than trying to generate stand fees at the expense of vibe. There’s enough room for both shows, provided they have their own identities.