Prolight + Sound: waiting for the “numbers”


The 2019 edition of PL+S – from the 2nd to the 5th of April at the Frankfurt Messe – has just come to an end, having returned to a format completely concurrent with the Musikmesse. It is still too soon for the press release, so we can’t yet talk about numbers and summaries, but we can share some impressions and reflections.

PL+S has returned to a model more similar to past editions: with the two exhibitions taking place at the same time (recent years had a partial overlap between the two), the return of the audio exhibitors to Hall 8 (after their “interregnum” in Hall 3, which was very nice but perhaps disorientated visitors), and the world of lighting (including LED walls and image management systems) in Halls 4.0, 12.0 and 12.1. We shouldn’t forget that PL+S is also home to the cross-over sector – as perhaps it seems from the perspective of those accustomed to the world of system integration, but which is more logical for those who work historically in entertainment – between music, technology, multimedia arts, and the DJ and VJ world.

For this reason, in addition to the more B2B initiatives – such as the Immersive Technology Forum or the area dedicated to Immersive Sound, which were very successful – there were many events at the crossroads between music and technology, even scattered around the city. Another classic at PL+S was the Klangdome (Sound Dome) in the courtyard between the pavilions, where it was possible to listen to various large-format audio systems, mostly line arrays, one after the other at scheduled times, for a very real and realistic listening test. It is very popular with visitors.

Our visit was mainly concentrated in Hall 8, where there were also many Italian companies that historically come from the world of entertainment and that, more recently, are also present in the integration and/or broadcast markets and even in the OEM market. These companies, such as Powersoft, Link, Fulgor, RCF, Dodicifacce and many others, remain faithful to the Made-in-Italy paradigm, which is promoted as a value and a workhorse in marketing. They participate in this exhibition in order to meet professionals from the rental, live, and entertainment sectors who – according to the impressions of these exhibitors – continue to be the primary visitors of PL+S and who represent a market that is still attractive. This market has been strengthened also thanks to the growth of the culture of outdoor multimedia events, mapping, multimedia exhibitions, etc. The flip-side of this – unfortunately, in our opinion – is that PL+S is increasingly perceived as an alternative to ISE. However, opinions are consistent on the point that the reference market and the public are different for the two events. Maybe this is why some brands have chosen to participate in only one of the two?

In any case, in the age of the Internet where everything is launched and previewed online – and where trade shows are more and more an opportunity for networking and less and less about placing orders – it comes spontaneously to reflect on the model of the trade show itself: perhaps, in time, it could move away from the current model of “exhibition” measured by the square meter, perhaps to one linked only to events, content, networking opportunities and business relationships. This model would certainly clash with the reality of large exhibition facilities – who have pavilions to fill and floorspace to sell – but perhaps it’s worthy of consideration.

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