With each passing year, we’ve been questioning the validity of large one size fits all trade shows. PLASA lost relevance for DJs, rapidly replaced by the more DJ focussed BPM show. This transformed into BPM|PRO and aimed to service the needs of two diverse but related sectors. But times and the industry have changed, and making something that remains relevant for the scene industry is harder than ever. Thus Marked Events has announced that BPM|PRO is closing its doors, and is replacing one big show with four smaller focussed ones.
It’s all explained here:
BPM | PRO SHUTS ITS DOORS AS ORGANISERS LAUNCH FOUR NEW MARKET-FOCUSED SHOWS
After over a decade of successful shows, Marked Events has announced the closure of its flagship BPM | PRO event along with the arrival of four new shows focused on different areas of the entertainment technology industry.
The landmark event, which started life as the DJ-focussed BPM back in 2007, has grown into a full-scale entertainment technology show, putting millions of pounds back into the industry and keeping visitors coming back year on year. Always developing with the markets of its exhibitors in mind, BPM | PRO has incorporated everything from high-end audio/lighting to award-nominated FX Stages.
But in light of countless industry factors and the current economic climate, organisers Marked Events now feel that the time is right to end on a high and refocus their efforts on four new shows, each aimed at differing sectors of the BPM | PRO audience.
Commenting on this new direction, Marked Events CEO Mark Walsh said: “BPM | PRO was successful, and has remained successful until the end, but I felt that our momentum was starting to drop. As we all know, times have changed; the way we market, the routes to market, and our sales channels have all gone through significant transformations over the last decade.
“I knew that if we continued along the same path it would be near impossible to maintain the high standards that our exhibitors and visitors have come to expect. Rather than trying to mould BPM | PRO into something it’s not, I wanted to re-group and re-focus our offerings.”
The result of this rethink comes in the form of four new shows throughout 2018 and 2019, each focused on a different sector of BPM | PRO’s former market:
GIG – The Professional Entertainer Show – Genting Arena, NEC, Birmingham
An Event for DJs, Singers, Performers, Bands and More.
October 21st & 22nd 2018
WORSHIP Technology Show – Manchester
A Trade Show for Specifiers Installers and Users of Sound, Lighting and Audio Visual Equipment used in Places of Worship.
November 6th & 7th 2018
CLUB + BAR Technology Show – London
A Trade Show For Specifiers Installers and Users of Sound and Lighting Equipment Used in Clubs and Bars.
LIVE Production Show
A Trade Show for Specifiers Installers and Users of Sound and Users of Sound and Lighting Equipment used in Stages, Tours and Festivals.
Launching Spring 2019
“This is a bold move, but one I firmly believe in,” explained Mark Walsh. “The shows will be affordable and highly focussed to the needs of the audience. By delivering a targeted visitor experience at a tangible cost we can build worthwhile events for the future of our industry.”
TRADE SHOWS — the same but different
Here’s the thing with big trade shows — in reality they’re really a collection of smaller ones under one umbrella. We casually refer to BPM, but it’s two shows, one focussed on the end user DJ, and the other for the pro sound and light trade, with a few stops in-between.
It’s also important to remember the different demographics going to these shows and their needs. The pro sound and light side is distinctly trade, and almost certainly cannot get what they need from a glossy web page or Youtube video. They need to see this expensive stuff in action, and are often ready to do big deals on the show floor. Thus a trade show is an ideal place for them, and as a format has validity for many years to come.
The BPM visitor however is a consumer. And by this (for fear of Dan’s head exploding at the mere mention of the word) I mean that they can go to bricks and mortar shops to play with and buy DJ gear, or they can make buying decisions based on Youtube demos with high production values, detailed 3rd party reviews and walkthroughs, or forum comments from actual purchasers — just like they can with any other consumer product. And they can buy whatever they like online too, knowing that they can return it quickly being protected by distance selling laws. In this respect, it’s not difficult to understand why DJ trade shows have struggled over the years — being bolted on the side of other shows was never going to work long term.
THE SHOW IS DEAD — LONG LIVE THE SHOW
What Mark Walsh and the Marked Events team are doing is shining a much needed spotlight on individual sectors. This will allow them to concentrate on the specific needs, and bring shows that really do deliver what the target audience needs.
This four-way split allows BPM|PRO to focus on quite specific areas that have previously been crammed into one show. And what it also does is to successfully split off the end user from the trade. The language used is quite specific — CLUB + BAR, WORSHIP, and LIVE are referred to as trade shows, whereas GIG (almost certainly the only one we’ll attend) is an event.
To give it its full description — “an event for DJs, singers, performers, bands, and more”, which clearly indicates the type of businesses and features that you might expect to see. It’s not DJ specific as such, but there’s probably more commonality between these groups than there was at BPM|PRO. Brands like Shure, Sennheiser, Roland, and other more music performing and creating brands now have a common user base to address in one new show. And having a pure end user focus will allow Marked Events to tailor the new show in a much better way.
As an example of how a more focussed show can work — I recently went to Synthfest in Sheffield. I did write a whole piece about it but never got around to posting it. Dubbed “trestle tables and patch cables”, the headline perfectly encompassed the vibe — no stands, just tables and pop up banners. And it was outstanding. Sometimes, trade shows are glorious pissing contests and often at the expense of the entire purpose of the show i.e. connecting with the visitor. The vibe at Synthfest was amazing — wall to wall enthusiasts in deep conversation with enthusiastic exhibitors. There were also several retailers knocking out gear at discounted prices too.
My point is that DJ shows don’t have to be like CES. It’s just fine to have small stands. In fact, my gut feeling is that shows should put a real focus on helping smaller businesses appear at the shows. For example, Pioneer DJ and any inMusic brands do not need to appear at shows anymore. Their online and in-store presence is enough for them. But smaller up and coming companies definitely do need to be seen at shows. It would be nice if it was made easier for them to show.
Ahh the memories
We’ve had some entertaining moments at BPM. Hosting battles, running demo stages, hiding in secret VIP rooms, and going nose to nose with people have been a few of them. It’s weird to think that we never really had our own dedicated stand though. To this day, I can’t think how that would work well for us anyway.
So while we can be all melancholy about the end of BPM, it’s important to remember that it served a purpose, and has allowed a new better path to be forged. While the likes of PLASA, Musikmesse, and NAMM slip further into irrelevance for DJs, smaller specific shows like ADE and BMC are definitely garnering more attention, which hopefully is a good indicator for the future of GIG too, provided scheduling wrinkles can be ironed out of course. Just so you know, GIG will replace BPM in the same time and place, so that’s 21-22 October at the Genting Arena. You just won’t have all that pro sound and light nonsense to worry about.
So I say congratulations to Mark Walsh and the whole Marked Events team for providing us with BPM over the years. We feel that the new focussed format is exactly the way to go and wish them every success.
SO I ASK AGAIN
A short time ago, I asked you lot what it would take to get you out of bed at the weekend and go visit a DJ specific show. It would appear that GIG is that show, and while probably not quite a blank canvas, here is a unique opportunity to send a message to Marked Events about exactly what show you want.
Do you want to play with all the gear in one place? Learn about the skills and business of DJing? Buy all this gear with extreme discounts? See a range of VIP DJs turn up to chat and play for your pleasure?