Please Tell Me It’s An April Fool’s Day Joke!

Please Tell Me It’s An April Fool’s Day Joke!

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A few days ago, I received a press release announcing that the Los Angeles Orange County Audiophile Society (LAOCAS) and the Chester Group from England are planning to hold a new audio show in Los Angeles. On the surface, this may sound like good news, except that it’s planned to be held at the same hotel at which the well-established T.H.E. Show, founded 28 years ago by the late Richard Beers, is now run by Emiko Carlin.

The LAOCAS is a dynamic audiophile society with many members that has, historically, helped audio shows by promoting them among its members.

The Chester Group is known for organizing nice little shows in the UK and around other parts of the world since 1998. About 10 of its shows had a lifespan of anywhere between one to thirteen years before each disappeared, while three shows are still listed on its website. Its NYC show, which has changed venue and dates almost yearly since its inception in 2012, attracted about 30 exhibitors at its last edition, this in the most populous US city, and was cancelled in 2023 for undisclosed reasons. On its website, the company has stated that there will no longer be a show in Manhattan and that efforts are being made to find a new location outside NYC to host a 2024 edition. Let’s hope it won’t be at the same date as another show on the continent.

Chester Group also tried its hand at running an audio show in Montréal, Canada, between 2014 and 2016, but after losing its show director after the 2015 edition, it cancelled its 2016 edition two weeks prior to the event for lack of room and ticket sales. The show has since been resuscitated by the previous owners and become one of the top ten most successful audio shows in the world.

At that time, in 2016, Chester Group released the following statement: “The Chester Group has no intention of going head-to-head with other shows in the same market, we have never done so and never will; we have always been 100% supportive of the industry.”

This is why I thought the press release I received was an April Fool’s Day joke sent early. In light of the previous paragraph, why would Chester Group choose as a venue for its L.A. show the same one that hosts the existing SoCal show, but not only that, one week after T.H.E. Show’s new Las Vegas show?

January, the only month without a US audio show, is a perfect time to host a show in the US’s warmer climates, but two shows back-to-back? With California’s population of 40 million, it could be viable to have two shows in that state, but in the same market? At the same venue?

For those who follow the regional show industry, you may have noticed a growing trend in organizers trying to establish new shows regardless of whether their dates conflict with those of already established shows. This adds a lot of pressure on the manufacturers, but also on the media trying to cover the shows without being overloaded with redundant information from overlapping reports.

Speaking of organizers that choose conflicting dates, the Seattle show keeps changing dates every year and is now held on the same weekend as Denver’s CEDIA show, and the new Dallas show was one week before Montréal’s. We understand that each show has its own clientele of local visitors and retailers, but the biggest exhibitors are often shared. Years ago, there was a non-written agreement between the different show organizers. It was meant to allow a minimum two-week grace period in between shows, to give everyone a chance to return home to rest and avoid having the press start looking like one continuous show-report infomercial, but some organizers seem to think this isn’t important.

I hope enough of us in our industry will say, “Enough is enough”. It would be nice if we could all work together for the benefit of our industry as a whole.

What do you think? Do you have an opinion you’d like to share with others? If so, we invite you to submit it here.

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