All change for Plasa
WORLD: Widely regarded for developing industry standards and certification schemes, the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (Plasa) has become an institution in the UK trade show calendar for the past 38 years. When the first show opened its doors, the music scene was characterised by punk rock, new wave and discotheque and so a youthful Plasa openly engaged with the emerging technologies that were being employed to entertain the clubbers and concert goers. Today’s music industry in London is virtually unrecognisable from that of 1978 and for better or worse, so is Plasa.
Unfortunately, a noticeable exodus of exhibitors and overseas visitors had been in evidence for some years prior to Plasa’s forced relocation from its homely Earls Court location in the west of the capital to the soulless ExCeL in the east. The second week of September dates had universally appealed to a waking industry following the summer festival season, so staging the new look Plasa in early October was never going to win sceptics over. With the continued dominance of ISE in Amsterdam, Plasa has suffered a further three years of stagnation and decline in its new location.
The new three day format was welcomed by visitors and exhibitors alike for which day two was extended to 8pm. Following registration, visitors were immediately dazzled by the lights and smoke machine effects on a show floor that adopted a ‘Focus’ model of a sector-specific, zoned layout, which the organiser claimed allowed both visitors and exhibitors to network and navigate easier.
The pro audio sector was limited to A.C. Entertainment, Autograph, Cadac, d&b audiotechnik, FACE, FBT UK, Flare Audio, Polar Audio, Ten 47, Unity Audio, White Light, Yamaha, SSE Audio and Wigwam Acoustics.
The Cadac booth proudly displayed the new CDC Six console between its established Four and Eight models. Launched at Pro Light & Sound 2015 in Frankfurt, marketing manager James Godbehear explained why Cadac was exhibiting on a show floor that lacked most of its competitors. ‘We promote our consoles in many ways including video tutorials, but the best way to really market them is by getting the technicians to get their hands on them. The videos help, but a hands-on demo cannot really be substituted. This year’s Plasa has surpassed our expectations as we have welcomed a steady stream of engineers employed in the live sound production, theatre and corporate sectors in addition to quite a lot of students.’
Exhibiting several product lines including the Vertus CLA604a column speakers, Muse line array, Shadow outdoor models and portable MaxX and Jolly series, FBT was a prominent exhibitor. ‘The UK market is going very well for FBT now under the stewardship of Mark Parkhouse,’ commented export manager Roberto Mataloni. ‘It feels far away from the city of London here and there are less audio exhibitors at the show. In previous years, this has probably worked to our advantage but I have only met two overseas visitors from the Middle East and Asia. It’s a UK show now as no overseas distributors bother coming here. I believe that the Plasa Focus show in Leeds is lot better as it is a two day networking show.’ The FBT booth also showcased a number of wireless microphone products from JTS including the ST850 conferencing, UHF and CM601 boundary.
Brands such as Altman, Ambersphere Solutions, Avolites, Elation, ETC, Laserworld AG, Robe and White Light dominated the lighting zone, whilst SES Entertainment, PSCo, TMB, Neutrik, Sommer Cable, Dataton, d3 Technologies, RC4 Wireless and SLG enticed visitors with their various offerings. ‘We were extremely busy all day. We have changed the way our stand looks for this year and it’s worked fantastically,’ analysed Avolites sales director, Koy Neminathan.
Off the show floor, the Professional Development Programme seminars provided an educational resource covering a huge variety of informative topics, addressing subjects for everyone from novices to experienced practitioners.
As the Docklands Light Rail carried visitors back towards the bright lights of the West End at the end of the show, it marked a one-way passage as the organisers announced the three year tenure at ExCeL was over. The announcement that the 2016 edition of Plasa was relocating to Olympia in mid-September is perhaps too little too late. Like the driverless train offloading all its passengers on the way to the terminal, this UK show has run out of steam and sadly hit the buffers.