We've seen NAMM shows in a host of American cities, including Anaheim, Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Austin and more. But a NAMM show in Russia? That's completely different. Why start a trade show there? What benefits will it provide? What are the risks involved?
All these are valid questions. NAMM will have help. The new show, which will take place in Moscow in May, will be jointly run by the folks at Messe Frankfurt, who have successfully run a cadre of shows in many industries, including Musikmesse and Music China. To get all the answers about the show, we spoke to Joe Lamond, NAMM's President and CEO. Here's the scoop.
The new show will take place from May 16 to 19 at the Moscow Expo Centre and will be called NAMM Musikmesse Russia and Prolight + Sound NAMM Russia. A trade show in Russia is the culmination of more than five years of research conducted by Betty Heywood, NAMM's international director of affairs, who previously served Messe Frankfurt. "We brought her on to focus on the global aspect of NAMM," said Lamond. "As an employee of Messe Frankfurt, she worked on many shows throughout the world and brought us a unique perspective. She helped to strengthen the relationship we have with our global members. Another reason we brought her on was specifically to look at opportunities outside the United States. First, we forged a partnership for Messe Frankfurt for Music China. We looked at where we could provide a service for our members where they can open up markets that might not be as open as they could be. We also wanted to find a place where we could use NAMM's "Circle of Benefits" business model, where the proceeds from an event like that go back into the industry to help strengthen the market and create more music makers. We wanted to export our business model. We wanted industry growth to support the marketplace."
With musical instrument trade shows firmly entrenched in Europe, North America and China, NAMM sought locations where a show could be successful. The three remaining "BRIC" countries, known for dramatic economic growth, were quickly examined. Those countries are Brazil, Russia and India. "The idea of a partnership with Messe Frankfurt made a lot of sense," Lamond said. "There are skills each partner brings to the table. Messe Frankfurt already has an office in Russia and is doing a number of shows there. They know the lay of the land and the venue that this show will be in. There was no specialized music show serving the Russian market. We think Russia is a real growth area. We felt we could provide a service there for those who want it. Our members know that when NAMM and Messe Frankfurt do something together, like we do in China, the show is going to be good. People attending the Russian show will be able to achieve their business goals."
Are other markets, such as South America, India and Africa, possible show targets in the future for NAMM? "There are several markets that already have owned and operated shows," said Lamond. "Australia is one; Canada is another. The UK has been through changes with its show in the past few years. France has a show in Paris every other year. There are no plans at this point to look at South America or India. They are growth areas. We have lots of NAMM members from there who come to our shows now. We are going to listen carefully to their opinions. When the time is right, would they support something in their area? There is a Brazilian show that does happen in September now, though. In India, there is a pro audio light and sound show that does a little on the MI side. There is no complete vacuum in any of those places."
Lamond added that he has not visited the Moscow Expo Centre yet, but has "all the faith in the world" in Heywood and Cordelia von Gymnich, who is vice president at Messe Frankfurt. "It's as if I'm investing in their company," Lamond said. "I'm investing in Cordelia and Betty."
The only other MI trade show that occurs in May is the MIAC show, which had shows take place in August every year until 2011. It is uncertain if May will remain the timeframe for the show in subsequent years. Also, although Moscow's climate will never be confused with Hawaii's, May is a much less harsh month in terms of temperature. In fact, it can be quite nice. We selected May 19, which would be the last day of the show next year, in a visit to www.weather.com. Moscow featured a high of 74 degrees and low of 50. Now, that's not bad at all. Those were not the specific reasons why May was selected for the Russian show, but the weather aspect can't hurt.
"Betty and Cordelia looked at a number of issues, including when the [Expo Centre] hall was available in Moscow," Lamond said. "I followed their recommendation completely. They did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people there to determine the dates."
Now that the date was set, manufacturers were needed to exhibit. With a few trade shows already taking place, would they agree to another? Or did manufacturers say they exhibit at enough places already? "We think of Russia as an opportunity," said Lamond.
"Some companies will say they are doing well with the other shows. That's perfectly fine. Other companies will say, 'Hey, I want to grow my business.' Manufacturers have a firm goal of wanting to sell more products. For those who are aggressively trying to grow, trade shows offer opportunities to sell more products. I think we can provide a service for those who want to sell more. I met with many manufacturers in Frankfurt [at Musikmesse] after we made the announcement. Many said to me, 'Wow, we've wanted to break into this area for a long time. We wanted this opportunity to grow.' Russia is an exciting market with a lot of potential. I heard from manufacturers, 'We're in. This is going to be great. This is an 'open' area as far as planning is concerned. You've given us a nice gateway into it.' The world is full of opportunity, but you have to go after it. It doesn't come to your doorstep sometimes."
Possible stumbling blocks to a successful Russian trade show could include visa concerns and a language barrier. However, Lamond said NAMM staff can help with any visa concerns and translators will be on hand at the show. The potential benefits far outweigh those concerns, Lamond emphasized. "It's a culturally rich market. The number of music conservatories is huge," he said. "Music education is very vibrant in Russia. Some manufacturers could think exhibiting in Russia will be a daunting task. They may ask, where do I begin? NAMM and Messe Frankfurt will work very closely to streamline the steps involved. We will streamline the application process, hotels, travel and more. There still could be some challenges, but it will be far more organized than if a manufacturer did it on its own. There will be a learning curve, as there is for any new market. But Messe Frankfurt is already in Russia doing a number of shows. This is just one more show for them. They already have systems in place to help international visitors come in and out of Moscow."
Although there will be some different cultural aspects, of course, logistically, you can expect an event similar to a NAMM or Messe Frankfurt show. "There will be a full offering of NAMM University courses for the industry there," said Lamond. "We will take on issues that are important to retailers in Russia. We're hoping to share best practices with the retail community there, just like we do in North America and China."
The show will have a public aspect, meaning at least one public day. "Hundreds and hundreds of conservatories from Moscow will be at the show," Lamond said. "Students will be there. We really want to promote music education and hope to spur more people in Russia to play music. The proceeds NAMM makes out of the show will be reinvested to help grow the market."
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