6 May 2012

AMA kills Golden Goose

In 1992 the AIM (Australian International Music) Trade Show was two halls wide at Darling Harbour. It was a mini NAMM show, and thousands of kids came on Public Day to see Dime Bag Darryl (may he rest in peace). AMA (Australian Music Association) boss Rob Walker ran a good show, he also managed the AES convention – again at Darling Harbour, and the debut ENTECH a year earlier in 1994.

Fast forward 20 years and again at the AMA this time as chair of the trade convention committee (AMAC), Rob has just announced the 2012 AMAC is cancelled.

AMAC started when AIM was voted off the island by the 40 main exhibitors – Music wholesalers – who couldn’t see the ROI (return on investment) from such a costly event. They devised a small and nimble convention at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast, where wholesalers would have a little booth in a ballroom sized space (like CX Roadshow) and then rent suites upstairs for more intimate demos and deal making.


It was a resounding success. But then the AMA got carried away, and moved to the GC Convention Centre and finally moved south to stage a disastrous outing at Melbourne Exhibition Centre several years ago. In the painful analysis of that costly show, they decided to go back in time, and reinstate the most affordable concept – the Jupiters Casino show.

Last week this year’s inaugural Jupiter’s Casino AMAC was cancelled, due to lack of exhibitor (AMA member) interest.

Now they are without their primary funding source, and for a trade association with proud roots reaching back more than 30 years, this is a dangerous time.


This is what they told members late last week:

The Association’s executive committee at a meeting on May 2 have resolved to postpone the 2012 AMA Convention at Jupiters Casino to a date to be fixed for 2013. There were a number of factors driving this decision. Most importantly that the AMA has received a considerable amount of feedback that the current economic climate is not conducive to suppliers investing in a trade show, or for retailers to take time away from their stores. In addition, whilst we had considerable interest from a number of AMA member suppliers we had insufficient exhibitor support from a large number of major suppliers. The trade show needs the majority of these major suppliers to be involved to attract the retail delegates needed.

Accordingly, the AMA Executive committee has come to the conclusion that these factors would jeopardise this important event. The committee was certain that proceeding with the event could have severely compromised the financial viability of your association for this year.
During the restructure of the AMA’s operations last year, our members overwhelmingly indicated that the core activities of the association should include developing a trade show model that was more affordable. Hence the offer of a smaller trade show/convention at Jupiters on the Gold Coast. As planning was well progressed the time and effort will be valuable in formatting the next event.

The committee thanks those members that had already committed, and shares your disappointment. The financial risk to the AMA was too great and the responsible decision was to postpone AMAC. Confirmed exhibitor’s payments will be refunded forthwith.

The committee will continue to work on your behalf to find a satisfactory way forward from this point. An Annual General Meeting is planned to take place in the last quarter of this calendar year. This will give an opportunity for further input and discussion of the format for next year. In the meantime the Association will continue its drive into Music Education, Government relations and new benefits for members.

Robert Walker. AMAC sub-committee chair.
Bernie Capicchiano. Association President.

The waters are very murky on Planet Trade Show as far as the Music, Entertainment Tech and AV Integration industries in Australia are concerned. The rivers of cash that these events generated for the promoters have turned into a drought affected dribble, with exhibitors standing up and saying two things, quite loudly:

(1) We demand return on investment; and

(2) If we decide to exhibit small or not at all, it doesn’t mean we are ‘in trouble’.

For some insight into exhibitor mentality, ACETA (the industry association for the commercial and entertainment technologies sector). have done extensive research, and reached a position of sorts.

In the immediate future, INTEGRATE will run in August at Sydney’s doomed and soon to shut Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, while ENTECH-CONNECT trial a small boutique show (July) in Melbourne. Then SMPTE (with ENTECH) and INTEGRATE will again presumably run against each other a month apart in Sydney next (2013) winter, just before the bulldozers demolish Darling Harbour for a very long rebuild.

This is probably the same crossroads we saw twenty years ago – where AMAC and AES folded because the thirty or forty firms that matter said ‘no more’.


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