More Than the Show
Beyond the exhibit spaces and performances, there were also educational seminars, and an after-hours wine pairing event. We sat in for an intimate discussion with Totem Acoustic's Vince Bruzzese, for example, where he talked candidly with passionate customers about the brand's dedication to its products, how it refuses to cut corners, and its pride in being Canadian.
Richard Bowden, Bay Bloor Radio, and Lucy Lentini, Totem Acoustic
Four individuals received Lifetime Achievement Awards during the show: both Lily Luo, owner of Canadian distributor Motet Distribution and XLO Electric, Paul Barton, Founder and Chief Designer for PSB Speakers, Terry Richardson of Plurison, and Dave Wilson of Wilson Audio, who's award was accepted posthumously by Peter McGrath.
The mission for the Toronto audiofest was to bring together exhibitors and potential customers, and have audio enthusiasts leave with a dream in mind about acquiring certain pieces of equipment. There's no definitive way to tell how many actual sales can be directly attributed to the show, at least not so soon. But Plante says many exhibitors indicated that they signed business on the show floor, and anticipate good follow-up business in the coming weeks.
Nonetheless, if the show generated excitement and energy about the audio industry, which will inevitably lead to greater awareness of "better sound" products, and the quality customers should expect, that's a good thing all around. Russell was particularly impressed with the social media that came out of the show about the Bryston room, which will inevitably have reached those of the younger generations. "It was quite substantial, and very telling, so we were happy."
Anne Bisson was one of the many artists who made live performances throughout the three days of the show.
"We are there to stimulate the industry," said Plante when we spoke back in May, "and we have to make sure that everyone is boosted with positive energy, and wants to push to make their stores better, or to become better distributors."
Coming in 2019
Next year, Plante says they'd like to remain in the Westin for the second annual event, and will work out the kinks, such as offering better signage and parking options, generating more awareness of the conferences and live concerts, and giving exhibitors more time to set up. The focus will be on attracting a larger contingent of younger attendees, of both genders. Plante also wants to add an exhibit of vintage equipment, and a room hosted strictly by Audiofilles, the name the organizers have coined for female audophiles. "We are open," adds Plante, "to any suggestions the public or the industry wants to submit."
An attendee checks out the 9-foot "T-Rex" speakers Bryston had on display in its booth.
Unrelated to the show, there's also more news on the horizon from the organizers, in an effort to further cater to the Canadian consumer technology industry. Scarcelli has been working with Blue Cross to offer everyone from one-man operations to large manufacturers, a Health Benefits Package program that is specifically designed for the audio industry. "More details will come in a few months," says Plante.
"With the success of this year's show," he adds, "we now know that there is definitely a clientele in Toronto, and Ontario in general. "We were overwhelmed with the response from everyone."
At top (L-r) Michel Plante, Sarah Tremblay, and new partner Benjamin Scarcelli, organizers of the Toronto audiofest and Montreal Audio Fest.