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‘An essential destination for all things audio’: Managing director Peter Heath provides a preview of PLASA 2019

Fiona Hope finds out from PLASA managing director Peter Heath about what’s new for this year’s show line-up with its increased emphasis on pro audio

The annual PLASA show returns to London’s Olympia from September 15-17, building once again on its renewed pro audio focus. New exhibitors this year include Coda Audio and Void Acoustics, while the return of iconic brands such as L-Acoustics, d&b audiotechnik, Bose, Adamson, Adam Hall, Audio-Technica and Yamaha, is set to provide visitors with a strong pro audio offering.

The show has also added new exciting features to attract and engage attendees, with seminars covering a range of relevant audio topics – with cameos from PSNEurope contributor Phil Ward, d&b’s Steve Jones, Chris Hill from Wigwam, and Jim Griffiths from Vanguardia – and live lessons in mixing from sound engineer Simon Todkill.

PSNEurope’s Fiona Hope spoke to PLASA managing director Peter Heath about this year’s exciting schedule, the increased focus on pro audio and the potential challenges of hosting a trade show…

What’s new for PLASA Show 2019?

This year is one of our most exciting shows for the audio industry for many years. Whether you’re new to PLASA Show or you’ve been attending since the old days, we’re confident that you’ll find what you’re looking for – and a little bit of what you’re not expecting too.

Live audio demonstrations have always been a popular element to the show, so we are delighted to welcome more brands and immersive spaces this year – double the amount in fact. This includes three dedicated ‘Audio Lounges’ featuring L-Acoustics, RCF and Sound Technology respectively, where visitors can hear the latest products in a relaxed atmosphere while chatting with knowledgeable brand representatives.

We are also launching a brand new feature called Stage to Studio in association with Sound On Sound
and Headliner magazines. This will see emerging artists perform live with their bands whilst being recorded and mixed by a renowned engineer. These sessions will offer something unique: education from a seasoned professional and entertainment in the form of homegrown talent.

How will the ‘Stage to Studio’ feature work?

Two artists with industry acclaim – VC Pines and Effie – will perform live with their bands whilst being recorded and mixed, helping attendees learn more about making better live recordings. We are delighted that recording engineer Simon Todkill is joining us, who has worked with Kanye West, Charli XCX and Matt Corby to name a few. His DAW will be displayed on a big screen above the stage and there will be running commentary describing the mix process.

The whole process, from set-up to the finished product, will be unpacked step by step, providing insights from the very top tier of pro engineering. After the show, we will launch a competition to reward the best audio mix of the Stage to Studio sessions with a professional audio prize.

What can pro audio exhibitors and visitors expect this year?

The show has seen continuous growth in audio exhibitors over the last few years, and there are no signs of this trend slowing down. We’re delighted to welcome many brands making their PLASA Show debut this year, including Coda Audio and Void Acoustics.

Exhibiting alongside them on the show floor are long term show supporters such as Bose, Adamson, Adam Hall, Audio-Technica, OutBoard and Yamaha.

The stage is set for a whole host of new products, suitable for a range of applications, from stadium-ready line arrays to barely-there amplification systems.

How have you been able to consistently increase the show’s pro audio content over the past few years?

PLASA has worked hard over the past few years to make the show an essential destination for all things audio. We’ve done this by speaking with our audio community – and taking onboard their goals and challenges. Feedback has been extremely encouraging and has provided us with the confidence to grow our audio output.

Getting the support of brands such as L-Acoustics, d&b audiotechnik and Coda Audio really does show that all the groundwork has been worth it, confirming PLASA Show as an unmissable event for audio professionals from all walks of the industry.

Tell us more about this year’s seminar programme. What are the key subjects under the microscope?

Audio journalist and consultant Phil Ward will be joined by Chris Hill from Wigwam, Jim Griffiths from Vanguardia and Steve Jones from d&b audiotechnik to campaign for ‘Equal rights for audio!’ They will assess how live performances, including the recent Spice Girls reunion tour, can neglect audio in the rush for spectacular video, lighting and set design. This topic that has been hitting the headlines a lot recently.

Moving from concerts to theatre, Shure will present the future of audio for theatre productions. This panel will explore how the advancement of technology, such as wireless and lavalier mics, continues to influence performance and push the industry forward.

We are delighted to be working with Women in Live Music, who will host a session on how to survive and thrive in the live music industry. They will share tips on how to gain recognition, create an impressive CV, keep busy during the slow season, and prevent burn out when on the road.

What have the biggest challenges been this year?

As an association, challenge is our middle name. In fact, we work with our members to identify challenges and face them head-on. However, it then becomes imperative that we reflect these hot button issues where we can, including through our seminar programme at the show.

This pledge goes far beyond the four walls of our trade shows. As part of our association activities, we support and develop industry professionals in a variety of ways. This includes a year-round training programme, including the National Event Lifting Training (NELT) which actually launches at PLASA Show this year. This year we also launched our Lighting Guidance for Outdoor Events, which has already proved to be a valuable resource this festival season for industry professionals.

The challenges never stop – both for PLASA and the wider industry. But thankfully we work in an industry full of vitality and dedication.