Bi-annually, twenty-five thousand crate diggers descend on Utrecht, with sellers from around the globe filling the 550 tables across it’s gigantic 12,500 square meter Jaarbeurs conference centre. Since its humble beginnings in the early 90s, Utrecht has grown to become the jewel in the record fair community’s crown globally.
With the 52nd edition taking place on November 16th & 17th, Record Planet’s Elisabeth kindly took time out this week to chat about Utrecht’s past, present, and future.
Can you give us an introduction of yourselves and the team behind the record fair?
All members of our staff have always been music lovers. Four of us started the company on a voluntary base in 1982 organising pop festivals, rehearsal rooms for bands, an info shop for local amateur bands, releasing albums and 7”, workshops etc. In 1985 we started organising record fairs.
Tell us a little behind the first Utrecht Record Fair in the early 90s and what you set out to achieve?
After some 7 years organising record fairs in Amsterdam we started in 1992 the first Mega Record & Cd Fair in Utrecht because the hall in Amsterdam was getting too small. It was right from the beginning a huge success and before opening the doors to the public Jaarbeurs security ordered us to open up A.S.A.P. because the central hall was getting overcrowded! Now we are getting ready for the 52nd edition at Utrecht.
So give us an idea of the scale of your operations in the Netherlands today, and did you ever think you would achieve this?
Right from the start in Amsterdam, we travelled all over Europe and the States to get as many dealers as possible interested. By the time we started in Utrecht, we had a huge amount of international dealers which was great for publicity. After 3 or 4 editions we all gave up our daily jobs to become professionals and make a living out of it.
You have sellers from all over the world taking part- when did you start to see such commitment from overseas, and how does this add to the event today?
We have dealers from over 60 countries, some as far as South Korea, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Belarus and beyond. They all come to meet each other to do business and talk about music- it has become as much a social event as anything else.
The event is also famous for having exhibitions or performances during the fair, which ones have been the most interesting for your team?
There were too many to name but highlights were the complete Motown vinyl album catalog, all 975 albums ever released on vinyl on show (see image), Glenn Matlock performance (Sex Pistols), about every Dutch musician has done meet & greets over the years, Chip Taylor performing, photo exhibitions by George DuBose (the Ramones house photographer) and Claude Vanheye. Readings by Jon Savage and Johan Kugelberg.
With a natural growth in online physical music sales over the years, how important do you think record fairs are to the community of sellers & customers worldwide?
It has always been a social event where like-minded crate diggers meet personally, do I need to say more?
What do you predict for the future of Utrecht?