Did Music China 2020 provide a glimpse at what future NAMM shows might look like?

The Shanghai show welcomed over 80,000 visitors despite the pandemic.

Event cancellations and postponements have become an almost daily feature of the COVID-19 landscape. But last week’s Music China 2020 show in Shanghai may have provided a glimmer of optimism for the musical instrument industry. 

Although NAMM has already announced its intention to pivot to a week of online events – and our own Guitar.com Live event offered an innovative digital alternative to the physical trade show format – 2021 will hopefully see some semblance of normality return. Large-scale public gatherings will eventually become viable again in Europe and North America, albeit with infrastructure for temperature checks or testing in place. 

But what is it like to run a large exhibition during a pandemic? And what might Summer NAMM 2021 look like if it goes ahead in July? We spoke to Music China’s Project Assistant, Sylvia Xue, to find out how the organisers of the Shanghai exhibition navigated the challenges of the COVID era. 

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Roaming security officers reminding attendees to “please wear your mask properly”

Did you have to reduce capacity this year for safety reasons?

“We did receive the capacity control from the police, but since our capacity didn’t exceed their requirement, we did not have to reduce it.”

How do exhibitor numbers compare to 2019?

“This year, a total of 1,106 exhibitors from 15 countries and regions participated in the show, while the number was 2,414 from 34 countries and regions last year.” 

What about visitor numbers?

“This year we received 81,761 visitors. In 2019 it was 122,519.”

How many international attendees were estimated to have visited Music China 2020?

“The number is still being calculated.”

With other music trade shows around the world getting cancelled, at what point did you feel the situation in China was under control enough to run a huge trade show?

“Compared to the rest of the world, it is quite safe now in mainland China thanks to the government’s efficient control of the pandemic. Since this May, there have been few confirmed cases increasing every day within China, and most of the cases were overseas travellers who were immediately taken to quarantine upon their arrival in China. 

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“The pandemic is well under control in China. As many expos started to return in Shanghai since this July, following strict guidelines for pandemic control, we thought it could be safe to run this show in October.”

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To enter the show, attendees had to scan a QR code

Other than temperature tests on the way in and compulsory masks, what other COVID safety measures are in place?

“For example, every person who attends the show, no matter exhibitors or visitors, are required to show their health code and swipe their ID card to enter the exhibition centre. Also, we prepared for each of the exhibitors a package of hygiene products, such as masks, alcohol cleaners and sprays. As for visitors, we installed supply stations of those hygiene products, which they can use anytime at any of the exhibition halls.” 

Were there any big brands/exhibitors who pulled out of the 2020 show due to COVID fears?

Yes, some big brands, like Orange, Buffet, Ludwig and KHS, decided not to come this year because of the pandemic.”

Do you think it’s important to send out a message that the musical instrument industry is very much open for business?

“Good question, but we don’t think we are in the right position to answer this question, as we are just a trade show, a platform, not the actual practitioner of the industry.”

Check out more photos here:

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Attendance may have dwindled this year, but brands like Roland, Pioneer, Gibson and Taylor still attracted a loyal crowd

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A performance at Pioneer DJ’s stage

The Roland booth

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Attendees demoing gear at the Roland booth

For more interviews, click here.

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