Organizer JD Events Pressured To Cancel AXPONA - UPDATED

[Updated April 27]

On Tuesday, April 21, 20 major high-end audio manufacturers sent an open letter to Joel Davis, founder and CEO of JD Events, urging him to immediately cancel AXPONA 2020 or offer "the option of withdrawal and an immediate refund." (footnote 1)The letter argues that the COVID-19 pandemic "has clearly altered [the audio] landscape out of all recognition" and disputes the viability of the show's rescheduled dates from April to August 9-11.

AXPONA's decision to postpone the show instead of canceling it outright makes it an outlier among hi-fi shows. Munich High End (May 14-17) canceled months ago, and the Montréal AudioFest (March 27-29) canceled after briefly considering postponement. The much smaller T.H.E. Show in Long Beach (June 12-14) will announce a date-change soon. The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (October 1-4) plans to go forward as planned if Denver's Gaylord Resort and Convention Center is open, but the organizers sent out an email to audio press on April 10 floating the possibility of turning RMAF into an online show. "But we are also committed to offering full refunds if for some reason RMAF doesn't happen," the letter stated. That leaves AXPONA as the only show committed to an earlier date that has not offered the possibility of refund without a penalty.

We at Stereophile wondered if the letter reflects the industry's majority opinion. In an attempt to find out, we contacted a number of manufacturers, several of whom took part in an April 17 livestream event promoting the postponed AXPONA, cosponsored by Stereophile and cohosted by hosted by Michael Fremer of Stereophile and Analog Planet.

We also requested a response from Davis, who promised a statement but, as this article goes to press, has not yet provided it. We'll publish Davis's statement as soon as possible upon receipt.

No quick return
"There will be no quick return to normal," states the letter, which was spearheaded by Luke Manley of VTL. Arguing that the industry at large does not support the August dates, it declares that, because of the economic shutdown made necessary by the pandemic, many audio companies face "the almost total loss of at least three-months' revenue [and a] critical cash-flow crisis…. The risks of social interaction and communication, as well as the substantial additional costs, make attending any show in an effort to stimulate sales a very real threat to both exhibitor and business health."

After noting that many audiophiles are in the most vulnerably demographic groups, and that members of the audiophile press share the industry's concerns regarding health, travel, and attendance, the letter casts doubts on the prospects of satisfactory consumer turnout and press coverage. (Stereophile has not taken a position on whether the postponed show should go forward, but we have informed JD Events that if the show takes place as scheduled, Stereophile will not participate.)

"Supporting the industry that AXPONA serves means helping hard-pressed companies by cancelling the show and releasing the money they paid in advance for an event that will not now happen," the letter states. "Under the circumstances we feel that it is no longer reasonable or responsible for JD Events to try to use the promise of a postponed AXPONA show to withhold exhibitors' (in many cases desperately needed) funds, and we urge you to follow the lead of other events and announce the cancellation of the show immediately. Even if you do not cancel, the fact that you simply cannot deliver the show as originally sold (in terms of attendance or coverage) means that all exhibitors should be offered the option of withdrawal and an immediate refund."

Among the signatories are representatives of major loudspeaker and cable companies including Magico, Stenheim, The Quest Group (dba AudioQuest and GoldenEar), Vivid, XLO, and YG Acoustics. Also signing were representatives of Basis, CH Precision, Constellation, Grand Prix Audio, Jeff Rowland Group, Manley Labs, Music Hall, PS Audio, VTL, and several distributors and dealers.

"I found AXPONA not forthcoming, and I decided to take a leadership position in writing an open letter to them for what I believe is for the greater good of the industry," Manley told Stereophile. "The points in the letter came into focus as a result of numerous conversations with fellow exhibitors who expressed serious concerns over the health and safety issues that doing a show this year entails, as well as the currently unrealistic financial burden that it places on them. There are more than enough exhibitor signatories to make the strong case that the August postponement is not what exhibitors need. The questions raised by the letter are valid and need to be answered. AXPONA has been stonewalling and tone-deaf about this, including in their Livestream event this past Friday."

Several industry members whom I reached for comment noted that when Munich High End canceled their 2020 show and moved it to May 13-16, 2021, they offered exhibitors either a full refund or, if they chose to carry their payment forward, a 5% accommodation. AXPONA has offered no refund to exhibitors who wished to cancel, nor a guarantee that they could keep their rooms if they pulled out.

These issues are addressed in the standard AXPONA exhibitor contract. "Management may refund to Exhibitor no more than a prorated amount of Exhibitor's total cost of participation paid after deducting all expenses and reasonable compensation to Management," the contract states. "If for any reason Management determines that the location or dates of AXPONA should be changed, no refund will be due to Exhibitor, and Management will assign to Exhibitor, in lieu of the original space, such other space as Management deems appropriate, and Exhibitor agrees to use such space under the terms of this Agreement. Management shall not be financially liable or otherwise obligated in the event that AXPONA is relocated or postponed . . .. If Exhibitor desires to cancel this Agreement, Exhibitor may only do so by giving written notice thereof to Management, Attention: Show Manager. In such event, Exhibitor shall be liable for the following cancellation fee: 100% of the total amount billed. Payment of cancellation fee must be received by Management within 15 days after cancellation."

One signatory is Manley's room partner at AXPONA, Elliot Goldman of Bending Wave Audio, an audio dealer and distributor for CH Precision and Göbel. Reached by telephone, Goldman told Stereophile, "I don't want to hurt anyone, but when they decided to move the show to August, they didn't notify us in advance or offer any options. If they continue with their plans, I can either forfeit the money or be forced to spend extra money to come to Chicago for a show that, at best, will have 25-30% of [the usual] attendance. Who the hell wants to do a show in August? How can you possibly socially distance in an elevator?"

Goldman speculated that if AXPONA doesn't cancel the show, many industry members will not participate in future shows. "By not giving us an option, they're saying that we don't count. We're the show, not them. I don't want to hurt them financially, but please don't put me in a situation that I have no say in. I don't even know if my European partners will be able to fly here in August."

At least one company that did not sign the letter—Von Schweikert Audio—would have done so if they'd had a little more time to decide. Leif Swanson, the company's vice president of sales and marketing, told Stereophile that his company supports it. In an April 12 post to, Swanson wrote, "It's not just about wearing a mask or downed attendance. It's about the global effects of sales, and for a show promoter to not take any of this into consideration is just wrong…. We have had to completely restructure how we operate to keep production moving forward and still keep with this quarantine. I could care less about audio shows for the rest of this year."

Livestreamers speak
You might think that those participating in last Friday's livestream event, which was intended to promote the show, support having the show go forward as planned. But among the livestream participants were several companies that also signed the letter: YG, the Quest Group, PS Audio, and Manley Labs. In fact, EveAnna Manley of Manley Labs used the opportunity to protest the current AXPONA plans. "This coronavirus is not going away on Trump's schedule," Manley told Stereophile in an interview. "No one wants to be in a confined hotel room breathing together. Me, I'm exhibiting in the headphone arena with people sitting down and sneezing all over my headphone amplifier and picking up headphones and putting them on their heads. There's no way I can disinfect against that. This show would not be safe for anyone. And look at the demographic of who attends these audiophile shows—it's old white men. And look at the age demographic of your typical reviewer. It's irresponsible to even think about having a trade show in 2020, especially an audiophile show. I've got thousands of people relying on me to do my job, and I'm not willing to put myself at risk. Luke's [letter] is fantastic, and I'm so glad he reached out."

Other voices
Several others we spoke to expressed the idea that canceling the show is the right thing to do. "It's a very bad idea to have a show in August because of COVID-19," Joe Reynolds of Nordost told Stereophile "The timing isn't good, and I don't think people will come to it. I'm very sympathetic to the situation JD Events is in—it's a very tough issue—but I'm surprised they haven't called it off. I was hoping the show would be canceled without needing to send a letter. In a similar vein, Aurender's John-Paul Lizars noted that while he was not contacted about the letter, he's "in concert with what it says. I would prefer that show be canceled completely and the money refunded. This is not the right time."

Several industry figures expressed more conciliatory views. One example is Desmond Harrington of Pass Labs, who told Stereophile, "I think the August date is very optimistic, but I'm keeping an open mind."

Ray Kimber of KimberKable expressed faith in Davis and AXPONA. "I don't know if I will sign the letter because I watched the process AXPONA went through last time, and I thought it was sensible and thoughtful. They kept me apprised of their thought processes and they asked me what I thought. Hence, I'm comfortable letting it go for a little while to give them time to ponder. It now appears, with other events being canceled well into July, that they must be evaluating the situation. I'm supportive of the concerns expressed in the letter, of course, and of keeping the industry safe."

"I was saddened by the letter and felt that it was premature," Zesto Audio's Carolyn Counnas told Stereophile. "To be honest, it pissed me off, because I don't think it was coming from the right place. I think they should have waited until June. Why bite the hand that feeds you? AXPONA has never demonstrated that they would do anything that is not in the best interests of the industry. They're assessing the situation every day. They're the easiest people to talk to; you just need to pick up the phone and talk to them. If they put the show on, I believe that the situation will warrant that we can have a successful show. If they think it won't succeed for them or us, I trust that they'll do the right thing and cancel.

"My gut feeling is that the Universe is in transition, and we can't say what will happen in August," Counnas continued. "No one in their right mind can make the decision right now. But in June, we'll know. I think that Joel, as smart as he is, is weighing the situation daily, and I'm willing to stick it out with them until then."

By email, Wilson Audio's Daryl Wilson wrote, "After reading the open letter, I can see why so many manufacturers have signed it. I understand the concerns that the letter articulates so clearly."

"These are very unique times," he continued. "Even two months ago, no one could have predicted that the entire world economy would grind to a halt. At a time when business is not 'as usual,' companies are working together in creative ways to find solutions. We who are companions in this industry need to find a balance between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law as we work together to endure this enormous challenge we're facing. I think, given the unprecedented circumstances we are in, that it would make sense for AXPONA to consider possible resolutions that take this chapter in history into account."

Krell's Walter Schofield told Stereophile, "I believe that Joel and the people at AXPONA did the right thing by postponing, and I believe they'll do the right thing again."

This is, as they say, a developing story. We await AXPONA's response.

Footnote 1: As of April 27, the number of signatories has grown to 78. The new names have been added to the letter posted here.

jamesgarvin's picture

As I recall, the organizer was rather slow to postpone the show from April, amidst all the public speculation about were they or weren't they. As I recall from the email I received at the time advising me of the new date, they did not mention in their email an option for refunds in the event the new date conflicted with a ticket holder's schedule. As I also recall, you posted a similar article about Axpona needing to reschedule, and the lack of any information forthcoming. I said at the time they should either hold the event in April (which obviously, in hindsight, proved impossible) or cancel it altogether, because if the virus situation was bad enough to cancel the show in April, the virus situation would never be resolved enough by August, and so it would make more sense to simply cancel.

Now that I am able to read the above agreement between the exhibitors and JD Events, it is fairly clear to me there is a significant contractual difference between the event being canceled versus postponed. Under the contract, the latter does not provide for return of funds to the exhibitor. Unless there is another clause detailing what occurs between the parties in the event it is canceled, my educated guess is that JD Events is hesitant to cancel the event.

I'm not intimately familiar with the virus situation in Illinois, and the Governor's position thereon, but this may be out of JD Events' hands. If so, my guess is money is coming back, or, more likely, JD Events proffers a credit for next year's event. On the other hand, if Axpona is permitted to legally move forward in Illinois, but an exhibitor in another jurisdiction cannot attend due to legal restrictions in their jurisdiction, what does JD Events do?

But I agree, they should really get ahead of this. They are the biggest show, in what may be the largest market outside of NYC currently hosting shows, and so it behooves everyone to sit down and figure out which exhibitors are not inclined to exhibit, which are, and then reach out to attendees and figure out a head count of how many still intend to make the trip.

That is a lot of information to accumulate in such a short period of time. Hopefully they get cracking and figure it out.

jamesgarvin's picture

Given the rather vague language contained in the Agreement regarding canceling, and zero hard information regarding "prorated" expenses, there really needs to be some hard and fast discussions. Are JD's "expenses" increasing by delaying an announcement, thereby entitling them to keep more exhibitor money? A sit down with calm heads are called for here.

tonykaz's picture

AXPONA changing the Date is in compliance with the Rules.

No Refund

Tony in Venice

rschryer's picture

...that the location or dates of AXPONA should be changed, no refund will be due to Exhibitor, and Management will assign to Exhibitor, in lieu of the original space, such other space as Management deems appropriate..."

Me me me. Money money money. Ugh.

Great piece, Jason.

jamesgarvin's picture

Here is the cancellation language: "Cancellation Of AXPONA. If for any reason beyond Management’s control (e.g., fire, casualty, flood, epidemic, earthquake, explosion, accident, blockage, embargo, inclement weather, governmental restraints, act of public enemy, riot or civil disturbance, impairment or lack of adequate transportation, inability to secure sufficient labor, technical or other personnel, municipal, state or federal laws, or act of God), AXPONA, or any part thereof, is prevented from being held, or the Facility becomes unavailable, unfit for occupancy or substantially interfered with, Management may cancel AXPONA. In such event, Management shall not be responsible for delays, damage, loss, increased costs, or other unfavorable conditions arising by virtue thereof, and Exhibitor waives claims for damage arising therefrom. Upon any such termination, Management may refund to Exhibitor no more than a prorated amount of Exhibitor’s total cost of participation paid after deducting all expenses and reasonable compensation to Management. In no case shall the amount of any refund exceed Exhibitor’s total cost of participation actually paid."

Are they waiting until the event is canceled beyond their control? The next shoe to drop will be attendees who want their money back should the event take place, but either can't, or aren't willing to risk traveling. JD Events needs the exhibitors and the consumers. There is a time to play hardball. I don't think this is one of them.

rschryer's picture

...this is one of them."

Damn straight, James.

teched58's picture

Most trade shows take out insurance. It's quite possible that the insurance only kicks in if cancellation is forced [e.g., by the government] and that it would not pay out if AXPONA 'voluntarily' cancels the event now. That might be the reason they have postponed and are now not really communicating. So my guess would be, once they are able to close and invoke the insurance, exhibitors will get most of their money back.

James Romeyn's picture

That seems reasonable at first glance. But if true, then why would AXPONA reschedule? When AXPONA rescheduled the "forced" qualification applied 100% (the whole nation shut down). The door you describe seemed to be open to invoke the policy, and yet AXPONA did not. If that's correct, then what would change in the future that did not apply when AXPONA rescheduled?

I have no agenda, just searching for info like other posters.

jamesgarvin's picture

Would the insurance policy pay Axpona for its lost income? Or only reimburse it for expenses? If the former, then canceling in April makes sense for Axpona. If the latter, then perhaps Axpona hedged its bets, and delayed the show, hoping this mess is cleaned up in time for them to have a show in August and generate income they would not generate if the show is canceled. If the show is canceled in August because the mess is not cleaned up, then Axpona still has insurance to reimburse them expenses.

Now, let's assume they lost the bet. The State opens for business, but many exhibitors and attendees are still not comfortable attending the show. Insurance company says Axpona is not required to cancel the show. We ain't payin' anything. Axpona's expenses are out the door. Now Axpona has a choice to refund exhibitors and attendees. Or not. If they have a dilemma, it still seems to be they should get ahead of it and be upfront, trying to negotiate a resolution which perhaps appeases everyone.

audioguy217's picture

I was communicating with the show 4-6 weeks back, asking if it was being cancelled and increasingly indicating that it should be; it was clear based on all the other events world wide and domestically that it should (and inevitably would) be cancelled. Two days before they cancelled the head of PR for the show sent me a response confidently insisting that the show was going on. I had nothing more than plane and hotel costs at risk as an attendee, and well remember the time trouble and expense we had invested in shows we displayed at when I was in the audio business. I think JD's foot dragging here and now resistance to cancelling and refunding is poor judgment. The first thought I had when I saw they reset it rather than cancel was "greedy". My second was "unsafe". With RMAF and The Capital Audio Show available, the industry has domestic alternatives for next year.

tonykaz's picture

This is gonna hurt AXPONA people, it's their year's work and annual income.


I'll wager that they have "Legal" protections against exhibitors backing out.

Shows like this are Big Business, it's how Sheldon Aldelson makes his fortunes.

Legal templates are in place for all these events.

Shows are big money as evidenced by our very own smiling promoters pitching in to keep the AXPONA ball rolling.

although: Mr.Manley don't seem all that happy faced smily .

Tony in Venice

anomaly7's picture

Thanks for this article, Jason.
Of course, your article isn't really one-sided as you posted a link to the contract that pretty clearly states "management" doesn't have to refund any money if- and then there's a long list of reasons that includes "epidemics" and enough other things that would seem to be able to apply to almost any scenario you could think of.
I guess time will tell whether or not the "management" will do right by the industry.

Jim Austin's picture

Not sure what the "other side" would be here, except for JD Events, from which, as Jason wrote, we expect a statement but have not received one yet. We spoke to no one who believes unequivocally that the show should go forward as scheduled. I think the article does an excellent job sampling sentiment in the industry, which spans the space between, "Give me my damn money back now!" and "Let's give them time to do the right thing."

Of course there's a legal issue--the technical matter of what people have committed to. It's surely relevant, even important. And yet this is a small industry where relationships matter a great deal--perhaps more than contract language does.


Jim Austin, Editor

anomaly7's picture

Hi Jim,
That's exactly what I meant, that JD Events hadn't replied. I was glad to read the article as it let me know that those who signed the letter had views that reflected my own with regard to feeling that moving things to August (I had/have tickets to attend) was not the best decision. It may have seemed like a nice alternative when that decision was first made, but as time went on there seemed (to me and others) little doubt that this move to that date would not serve the public or the industry well at all.
And, as for the legal issue, well, a contract is a contract, and though I would think that everyone who signed on to exhibit at AXPONA read that contract I would also think that no one who signed it imagined that a COVID pandemic was going to disrupt the world in anything close to the way that it has.

tonykaz's picture

Legal foundations are the basis for committed relationships, aren't they?

Show organizers provide a contractual relationship that secures both parties.

We have to expect all concerned to live up to their pre-agreed commitments which include properly described terms under which refunds will be issued.

Hired Promoters are out there to promise a better outcome in August but that is only a distraction from an ugly series of refund demands spoiling future relationship between exhibitors and show organizers.

All Shows from every Industry ( except AXPONA ) have been cancelled for the remainder of 2020. Considerable financial commitments and investments have already been lost.

2021 will be a transformational year.

Tony in Venice

Anton's picture

From the tenor of this news, I am picturing AXPONA, holding a gun aimed directly at its foot, saying, "Hey, look! I got two feet, anybody have an extra gun?"

I hope AXPONA has its gaze fixed on 2021 and beyond. A "No Refund" approach is a non-survivable position.

Gotta hope AXPONA is, as someone mentioned above, insightfully insured.

mgeso's picture

As a long-time exhibitor at AXPONA, and a successful importer of high-end lines, we are shocked at the lack of an immediate reply from AXPONA management. Munich High End, CTA/CES, etc. would never have done such a thing. Most if not all these types of events have cancelled, and refunded fees paid by exhibitors in 2020. Our factories and our retail dealers have already told us they would not attend such an event in 2020 for obvious reasons. If AXPONA wants to see future shows be successful, (If any), they will do the right thing by May 1, and announce refunds of amounts already paid by the audio industry. If they do not, we like many other companies, will not participate in any future events they may sponsor in subsequent years. Without exhibitors and attendees, there would be no AXPONA. Disregard for our health and safety as exhibitors’ and attendees, is truly appalling and can only have one motivation. Greed.

rt66indierock's picture

Right now they are motivated by fear. If they have done any of the same forecasts I have done for clients they may not be able to survive without revenue provided by AXPONA.

I worry about the future high end because most companies don't have the capital to ride this pandemic out.

tonykaz's picture

Mr.rt66 Sir,

Our Air Transportation System Carriers are in collapse. Every flight needs 75% passengers to break even, no flights are at minimum capacities.

As of today, the Air Carriers are hoping for some form of stability in or around 6 months out. A large number of famous Carriers are beginning Bankruptcy proceedings.

Keep your fingers crossed, we are still heading IN-TO a financial hurricane with Audio Show survival the least of our problems.


No Audio Shows may give Manufacturers a break from marketing pressures.

Tony in Venice

JulieAudiophile's picture

Great article, Jason! I was wondering about the contractual details, insurance implications, etc. might be. Looking forward to an update/statement from AXPONA.

mighty manfred's picture

Axpona not having Event Cancellation insurance would seem very short sighted. Perhaps the silence from the event organizers has to do with policy conditions/requirements which must be satisfied prior to coverage being triggered.
I have no skin in the game and I realize that money does change everything.
Silence may be golden but in this instance perhaps as unavoidable as it is troublesome to many.

daveyf's picture

Looks like the lawyers will be getting busy(ier) in the next few months!! Looks like there is a silver lining in this debacle for some after all!

avanti1960's picture

yet more economic damages and consequences for involved parties.
The state of Illinois shutdown is now extended through May and optimistically that will be it.
We have June and July to transition to normalcy and the August dates have a glimmer of hope for the right timing for AXPONA to go on as scheduled.

Anton's picture

A 'standard' exhibit room is listed at 4,250 bucks.

Say you double that for travel and sleeping room?

So, about 10 grand at risk for the average exhibitor?

Some of course, might be on the hook for thousands more, just ball-parking what an exhibitor might face with no refund.

rl1856's picture

Insurance companies and lawyers, or lawyers working for insurance companies. Just what we need. The problem situation around the virus is changing by the day. Should we reopen, is it premature, have we peaked and so on. To date, insurance companies are taking a very narrow view regarding whether or not this situation triggers payouts for business interruption insurance. The industry says (with some truth) that widespread payouts would bankrupt the industry absent a Govt backstop. The economic risk of a national pandemic was not priced into policy premiums. On the other hand, some businesses with the assistance of state attorney generals, have begun filing class action suits against insurance companies. Regarding AXPONA, the language seems pretty clear- they are NOT obligated to issue refunds. "Management MAY refund to Exhibitor no more than a prorated amount of Exhibitor’s total cost of participation paid after deducting all expenses and reasonable compensation to Management." Note the key word is MAY, not SHALL. One simple word allows Management the discretion to refund, or not. Absent a complete about face, expect this situation to take some time to fully work out, and even then it may not work out to everyone's satisfaction.

WELquest's picture

As "Tony in Venice" wrote: "No Audio Shows may give Manufacturers a break from marketing pressures."


While there is of course benefit to consumers, dealers, manufacturers and press from events as dynamic as was AXPONA 2019 -- all of us will do just fine if there's never another AXPONA.

The #1 reason for a manufacturer to participate at a North American regional show is because it exists -- because not being at a significant show is a type of negative.

I do not see, or pay for, regional show exhibits as necessary promotional opportunities -- I see them as mostly money-losing opportunities to hobnob with our wonderful community, and to hopefully make some positive impressions and earn a bit of press along the way.

JD Events needs to understand the actual nature of supply & demand in play for an audio show.

At present, they are trampling on our whole community, especially the consumers and attendees who are being treated as pawns in a bigger game.

Bill Low/AudioQuest

janszenLabs's picture

There's no consensus among scientists about what the pandemic will look like in August, but some models seem to predict that normal activities might more or less safely resume by then without triggering a rebound event, although this may be based on the notion that most people will have already had the bug by then. Still, at a minimum, it does seem certain that the AXPONA's attendance would be markedly lower than usual.

As a direct-to-customer maker located within easy driving distance of Chicago, I might entertain an offer to exhibit to a reduced audience, albeit after having been offered a proportionate refund of the exhibition fee.

As a practical matter, assuming contagion is still an issue, then the inevitably low attendance would allow measures such as spread-out badging lines, one-at-a-time elevator occupancy, and one-at-a-time equipment demonstrations. Additional personnel could be hired to sanitize surfaces, hand sanitizer could be deployed widely, face masks could be required and handed out to anyone who lacked one, hallway foot traffic could be made one-way, and the rooms and elevators could be outfitted with electrostatic/UV/HEPA air cleaners. Everyone could be subject to a screening survey and body temperature measurement upon entry to the building.

Sounds like big fun, right? But it may have become the new normal for the hospitality industry by then, anyway.

At any rate, I'm with whoever wrote that greater predictive clarity may be available in June for JD Events, its lawyers, and its insurance company to evaluate the situation and make the very consequential set of decisions they're beset with.

jamesk's picture

I'm not an insurance lawyer, but based on JD's silence, I suspect that it lacks both insurance and the capital to ride out cancellation. Most pointedly, it also may be waiting for guidance from its lawyer(s). If I am wrong and there is event cancellation insurance coverage, there are likely waiting periods before cancellation coverage may be triggered (30/60/90 days) and a claim paid. Further, I wonder if JD needs to sue for a declaratory judgment from a court that it may cancel and still be covered by any insurer (after the economic decision is made that it is fiscally prudent to even sue for a declaration that there is applicable coverage). As noted by others, the real perception problem is JD's total silence. It would be one thing to say, for example, its a work in progress, or we are communicating/negotiating with our insurer, or the lawyer has to advise us, but utter silence now? Where are the PR people when you need them? It seems that all JD has done is sour its ability to ever successfully sponsor another show. As a consumer, I would side with the manufacturers, not the host. As a manufacturer/exhibitor, I would be pulling my hair out. I think JD needs to fess up--fast. People can take bad news. They (usually) cannot accept being lied to or ignored.

John Atkinson's picture
jamesk wrote:
As noted by others, the real perception problem is JD's total silence.

A Mark Freed‎ posted yesterday to Facebook's Audio Show Group:

"Hi Everyone – I hope you are well and although I have spoken to many of you, for anyone I have not responded to I apologize. We have received your thoughts and concerns since February regarding the current situation we are in and they are all legitimate.

"We hope to provide an update by the end of this week regarding where things stand for AXPONA and JDE during this unpredictable time. Please know that JD Events will always do the right thing for our customers to the best of our ability.

"On a related note, Joel has been quite sick fighting a fever since Monday and not able to be as responsive as he’d normally be. It’s been a hard week but I assure you he understands all of your concerns and all that is at stake. Please be patient while we work through immense challenges for which there are no simple solutions. Thank you for all the encouraging emails, texts, and phone calls we are receiving. Stay safe and my line is always open to you."

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

lmanley's picture

It must be said that Joel Davis has written recently about this, posted on at where he writes:-
"April 23, 2020
Hi Steve. It appears you sent the original email to an info@ address vs to me directly which is why I never received.

I have been planning all along to get a communication out to all exhibitors in late April to address all the questions we are receiving. I don't think it is necessary for me to be immediately reactive to a petition letter. Nor does it make sense to provide answers to a few select questions to be published without the opportunity to elaborate on the full context of the current situation...which is complicated and changes daily.

I hope you can appreciate how much blood, sweat and tears go into producing AXPONA from the JDE team every day. And I hope you can also appreciate, like so many other businesses in this world today, our event management company is being totally devastated by the bans on large gatherings and we are fighting for our own survival.

We are working on details, various scenarios, and contingency plans on a daily basis. I hope you will support JDE and AXPONA in a positive way during this extraordinary time of crises for so many people, businesses and industries. Meanwhile, we will continue to do the best we can to support the audio industry and help it bounce back just as we've done for last 7 years.

Thank you. Joel.

Joel A. Davis
Founder & CEO
JD Events"

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Mr. Freed tried to register to Stereophile comments section ....... However, unfortunately, Mr. Freed could not properly identify the fire hydrants, traffic lights, cross walks, bicycles, cars, buses, motorcycles, palm trees, stairways, store fronts etc. etc. :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I propose Stereophile post various types of vacuum tubes for identification ........ They would be much easier to identify :-) .........

For example, no one would have any problem identifying KT-150 from Katy Perry :-) .......

lmanley's picture

In all this talk of legal terms and insurance, what is not covered is the exhibitors' and attendees' health and safety, and potential liability for us and the show organizer if even one person gets infected at, or in traveling to and from, the show - that surely also needs to be factored into all of this.

It is highly doubtful that anyone would have sufficient coverage for that, and there is nothing that could possibly be worth risking getting infected by this terrible virus.

jamesk's picture

Thank you for the reply/update.
Information costs are especially high right now.
Wishing a speedy recovery.
Hope you and yours all remain healthy and safe.

michaelavorgna's picture

This is the question being asked by Axpona's current stance.

To clarify, without widespread testing and a proven vaccine, huddling up in hotel rooms is potentially life-threatening. Seeing as we will not have a vaccine by August, we get back to the original question -

Should people risk their lives to attend a hi-fi show?

The only answer is - No, they shouldn't. Could this cause Axpona financial distress? Welcome to the club. Learn a thing or two from High End Munich who are the clear leader in professionalism (and humanism).

lmanley's picture

"South Orange NJ, April 9, 2020 — While sports commissioners, governments and medical experts debate when to reopen sports leagues, a huge majority of Americans including a substantial majority of sports fans are prepared to stay home until the development of a vaccine for Coronavirus.

Asked what they would do if the leagues resumed play before the development of a vaccine, 72 percent of Americans said they would not attend games, with 12 percent saying they would if social distancing could be maintained. Only 13 percent said they would feel safe attending as in the past. Among sports fans the number drops to a still significant 61 percent.

Medical experts have repeatedly put the timeline for approval of a vaccine into 2021, although they have not ruled out an existing drug proving effective for treatment this year. Seventy-four percent of Americans thought it was possible, likely or very likely that sports would be cancelled for the rest of this year."

michaelavorgna's picture

...most people don't want to die.

I'm assuming that's you Luke and if so I hope you and Bea are staying healthy and doing well, under the circumstances.

tonykaz's picture

This is a Capitalist System that bases on Contractual obligations taking precedence over things like Buyer Remorse.

This isn't like Walmart 100% Return Policy.

I would love us to have a Socialist Arrangement like the one that Germany thrives with. They even have Health Insurance from Cradle to Grave & Tuition-free education.

Clearly, as we've all been told by our top 1% President, this is a Washington Elite controlled economic system of Governance.

The same top 1%ers that buy those $750,000 Loudspeakers Stereophile showcases are the folks that make the Capitalist Quarterly Profit based Decisions.

We, citizen capitalists, do everything within the limits of the Contracts we Sign.

AXPONA People signed Contracts.

Contracts control things.

I'd even suggest that the AXPONA people cannot Contractually return/refund funds. It's out of their hands.

This is Business Law,

Signed petitions are a childishly inspired hope.

Of course, Consumer Audio Outfits probably don't have legal departments controlling every agreement or deal. I'll wager that they don't even have bean counters.

Tony in Venice

michaelavorgna's picture

..there's something called goodwill.

If Axpona intends to continue putting on shows, as opposed to the 'take the money and run' approach, I suggest they need to exercise some goodwill.

As to the rest of your rant, there's no there there.

tonykaz's picture

I love you for saying that, it is part of the loveliness of Stereophile and part of the reason I love reading all your philosophies and reporting.


JDEvents is a Business, we have to anticipate they will work to meet the terms and limits of their contractual relationship obligations.

I'm not ranting, I'm explaining Business and I'm not angry.

You ( Stereophile Staff ) might just make a Call to some of the Show Organizers you have had relationships with for the purpose of discovering Show details and terms.

Stereophile just might have a nice piece of Journalism here ( to report on ) instead of passing around conjectures and accusations.

Tony in Venice

michaelavorgna's picture

Haven’t been for years.

tonykaz's picture


You carry the Presence and Stance of a Staff person, what you say carries weight with readership even though we don't realize who you are now-a-days.

Of course, you are an important person.

JA1 is still who he always was,

Tyll is still an important Headphone person when ever he comes back and speaks.

Annnnnddddd, Mr.Dudley is still the great AD.

Tony in Venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Mr. ML is still considered as a 'celebrity' among audiophile circles :-) ......

JoeHarley's picture

Bravo! Precisely!

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

We can't update the website every five minutes, but that's the number as of late Monday morning, PDT. It may be even higher by now.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Seems like people are not too enthusiastic about developing 'herd immunity' :-) .......

Archimago's picture

Herd immunity not recommended course of action for the typical audiophile crowd at such shows...

Might be a little more acceptable at CanJam though ;-).

Bogolu Haranath's picture

CanJam crowd is mostly younger crowd, who are most likely to be resistant to the virus ...... AXPONA crowd on the other hand are most likely to be middle aged men :-) ........

daveyf's picture

LOL, love the post about log in and CAPTCA...what a total PITA this stuff is..

As to Axpona and their contract, one thing would seem to be certain, and that is if they fail to cancel and refund monies in a timely manner, their contract will more than likely be tested in a court of law...and given the current circumstances, I know which side I would want to be on...

tonykaz's picture

Hmm, have you ever tried it?

These Contracts are Boiler Plate, which is why they are accepted by both sides.

We all should leave Legal Advice to the Legal Counselors.

Stereophile is already at risk for encouraging risky behavior. JDEvents may file a Legal Complaint about Stereophile Staff supporting and encouraging legal disputes.

Beware, this is dangerous stuff.

Somebody can get fired over all this. ( instantly )

Tony in Venice

rschryer's picture

Are you making an allusion to unprotected sex, Tony?

Stereophile has simply reported on the events as they've been developing. No fake news here. It would seem that exhibitors in their desperation felt they had little recourse but to use the Stereophile site to air their grievances.

From what I can tell, the gist of exhibitors' grievances isn't so much about the money — it's about feeling disrespected.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I have been a reader of Stereophile for many decades ...... I can vouch, Stereophile never once encouraged 'unprotected sex' :-) ..........

tonykaz's picture

Then I have to again Compliment Stereophile Staff and you in particular for carefully pointing out ( in a Public Setting ) this wonderful Bulletin Board that Stereophile maintains and make available to grieving parties.
( No dog in this fight !! )

I'm presuming that JDEvents will cease to exist in the very near future, because the Organized Show Industry has collapsed. We should expect the Events Industry to need a Decade for a near full recovery.

Quarterly financials are about to be revealed. It already looks Bleak.

Airlines and Air travel may need 2 years to once again be profitable, Boeing is about to commit suiside by letting go of it's skilled workforce. No Large Body Jet Liners are still flying. The wheels just fell off the Big Boeing Embraer merger leaving AirBus to control that Industry. super ouch.

Fossil Fuels at giveaway price levels.

Travel Industry destinations Shut down, Cruise Ships empty.

We are in an ongoing Train Wreck!! with Washington recommending Clorox chewables .

Tony in Venice

Jim Austin's picture

Stereophile is already at risk for encouraging risky behavior. JDEvents may file a Legal Complaint about Stereophile Staff supporting and encouraging legal disputes.

Stereophile is, among much else, a news organization. We can no more be sued for covering a newsworthy issue than the New York Times can be sued for providing details about the economy or a presidential election.

Never mind the fact that we've done nothing to encourage any legal disputes--all we've done is alert the community to a dispute, legal or otherwise, that exists and that is highly relevant to our readership.

Don't blame the messenger.

Jim Austin, Editor

tonykaz's picture

Ok, glad to hear your confidence.

Of course, as a News organization you're in good shape.

Be careful, don't take sides or encourage revolt by threatening Goodwill consequences. ( although I'm not an Attorney and shouldn't be advising )

I'm on your side and hope for good things.

Tony in Venice

ps. people that buy Ink by the Barrel are magnets for legal actions.

daveyf's picture

Tony, a lot of what you have posted could be construed as advice. Nothing I post should be construed as advice, legal or otherwise.

Littrell's picture

Everyone that signed the contract should have or did read it. No one forced anyone to sign the contract. Contracts are often written to limit liability. That is the case here. A contract is not equivalent to good ethics. Obviously the promoter values income over relationships. AXPONA is dead.

If the industry is bleeding money, how come I can’t find any high end stuff on sale? Just asking for a friend who is a middle aged white guy.