Noise pollution at the MOC

My Zoom chat with an industry veteran took an unexpected turn when I asked about their take on this year's Munich show. "Our neighbours played so loud that we couldn't hear ourselves think. We asked them repeatedly to turn it down to no avail. Instead we were brushed off and told that they had paid extra 'to party'. They also insisted that things only sound good very loud. So we asked show management to intercede. They told us we'd done right to bring it to their attention and they'd handle it. Not. These exhibitors had taken out a very large room for an absolutely enormous very high-profile system. Perhaps management didn't really lean on them too much if at all?"

As arguably the largest most important international show of our industry, manufacturer attendance at Munich has become a virtual must. Such popularity equals high fees. Where a single-brand contract skips a year, they forfeit their usual room with no guarantee of securing any at all the following year. And nobody wants to be right next to the toilets or a subwoofer brand demoing their latest 21" monster with home theatre. It's why some brands partner up. Not only does room sharing reduce costs. It secures the same room the following year even where one participant takes a break. Given very stiff exhibit costs, you'd think it absolutely incumbent upon management to guarantee that all exhibitors enjoy the same opportunity to demo their wares without being pounded into oblivion by next-door competitors who constantly violate the event's 75dB SPL rule for civil coexistence. But that's apparently not so in practice.

Some neighbouring exhibitors thus have come to a gentleman's agreement. They alternate being active on the half hour. With proximity and sound leakage undermining both their rooms, alternating is a practical workaround. Such arrangements simply rely on mutuality. Without common courtesy, there's no fix. The loudness bully wins out and show management ends up playing favourites or not giving a shit. Neither is equitable for brands that pay a premium to attend only to be drowned out by incessant noise pollution from barbarian neighbours. And that hasn't yet mentioned the impact on attendees many of whom fly in from far away. It's why offboarding at alternate venues has become popular despite sacrificing raw foot traffic. Exhibitors and attendees thus face a tough choice. Be at the ultra-noisy carnival of the MOC to harness the greatest footfall yet sacrifice informative listening to cacophony; or demo offsite under more conducive conditions whilst seeing far fewer visitors who in turn must seek you out far more actively. For doing any actual new business, opting out entirely is pretty much out of the question for all but the most established brands. So no matter how frayed at the seams, the show must go on?