RPMDA 2018: Reinventing the Exhibit Floor

by Mike Watson, Remenyi Music

Your RPMDA board has been hard at work assembling a fantastic assortment of educational sessions, idea sharing platforms and killer social events for our 42nd annual convention (April 25-28).

This year, one of the most noticeable changes will be to the publisher exhibits. For many retailers, the opportunity to speak directly with their vendors is the most valuable time spent during the convention. At the same time, many of our commercial members have noted that the cost of exhibiting at the convention does not necessarily enable meaningful face time with every retailer. So, we asked ourselves: how can the situation be improved for both sides of the counter?

It was precisely this question that fueled the Great Minds session at our 2017 convention in Atlanta. Guided by this discussion and others, the board began working to improve the exhibit experience. We are now eager to announce innovative changes to our exhibit model that we believe will foster even greater engagement between retail & commercial members.

We’ve taken the traditional booth arrangement of the past and upgraded it with a more modernized version that we’re calling, Power Hours, which will virtually guarantee that all commercial & retail members are afforded meaningful face-time. Consider it exhibit time revitalized.

Power Hours…How will they work?

The time dedicated to exhibit hours will remain identical to previous conventions. In place of a traditional booth, every exhibitor will be provided a 4×4 (approx.) table display, where they will be able to meet with their retailer customers.

Retailers will participate in rotating, small-group discussions with every exhibitor during dedicated meeting times. Over our three-day convention, retailer groups will move through the displays of every exhibitor in ten-minute intervals.

In addition, we’ve allocated 2.5 hours of unscheduled meeting time for retail members to make appointments with specific publishers for product review, workshop planning, etc.

What can occur during these meetings? As in previous years, that’s entirely up to the publisher! They may elect to display a small amount of product for retailers to touch & see. They may prefer to run a presentation off a tablet, or use a notebook computer to guide attendees through the highlights of their catalog. Or they might use the time as an opportunity to host an open dialogue with retailers.

The emphasis is on interaction, collaboration, and education. This is by no means a reduced focus on physical print, merely a decrease in the volume of actual material present in the room. Most importantly, both commercial & retail members will be guaranteed the opportunity to interact, something that has unfortunately been absent under the previous exhibit model. We anticipate that this networking value alone will make for a hugely improved exhibit experience for all attendees.

What’s not part of this new exhibit model?

Elaborate booths containing skids of books and missed or delayed appointments. It’s no secret that the majority of our commercial members’ convention expenses go to logistics companies and outside suppliers. By limiting the physical scope of our exhibits, we significantly reduce our reliance on these providers, and will be able to redirect those dollars directly back into your association.

The Way Forward

One of the hallmarks of the RPMDA convention has been its unique ability to bring together all sides of the print music industry for constructive dialogue and the open sharing of ideas. By revitalizing our exhibits, we hope to inject new life into the publisher-retailer relationship experience at the convention. With our industry now in a period of accelerated change, this event is evolving to continue serving the needs of both print music retailers and publishers. Many additional details will be released in the coming weeks, but in the meantime please feel free to reach out to any RPMDA board member, and we’ll happily answer your questions.

Convention registration is now open! www.printmusic.org