How was NAMM 2018 for you? What was the best take away?
If memory serves, this was my 35th Winter NAMM Show and in my opinion, each one has been quite different from the last, this year was no exception. Seeing NAMM members, alongside our partners and guests, create a powerful, business-driven industry gathering was the most exciting aspect to me. The launch of new and innovative products, the peer to peer networking opportunities, and unique gathering of virtually the entire musical ecosystem for four days in Southern California created one-of-a-kind opportunity for our members. And it was much bigger than previous shows!
What was new for this year’s show, particularly on the pro audio front?
Pro Audio expanded this year with the addition of a new hall at the Anaheim Convention Center. The new space also allowed us to grow the lighting and event technology component of the show. Something that was very important to us was being able to offer world class education to these important groups which led us to some new partnerships. For the first time, ever, The Audio Engineering Society presented more than 300 sessions, whitepapers and hands-on training at The NAMM Show, with the [email protected] program. In addition to the other great training through TEC Tracks, A3E: Advanced Audio + Applications Exchange and the Pro Production sessions, the show featured the 33rdd Annual TEC Awards, honoring the products used in production, and welcomed the Parnelli Awards, which recognizes the people, products and services in the event technology industry. Entertainment Services and Technology Association also offered some incredibly valuable training focused on lighting and event tech.
How do you strike a balance between retaining regular visitors and also ensuring that you get new visitors every year?
Recruiting and retaining NAMM member companies is one of our major objectives. Our goal is to make NAMM services an invaluable tool for member success. The industry continues to evolve as does our membership so there is a built-in stability of current members at the same time we’re constantly getting new ones, it’s actually a very exciting model! We also have a very diverse membership, over 100 countries representing every conceivable product category. I believe that bringing all the various musical tribes together actually strengthens the entire industry because of the natural sharing of best practices and the cross-pollination of new ideas. Humans have been gathering since the dawn of recorded human history to do just that.
You had some really interesting conferences and breakfast sessions this year, what are you trying to achieve through these?
Our goal is to provide timely, relevant business education to help members grow their businesses and careers, as well as succeed as the industry continues to evolve. It’s also to be reflective of the various functions found within segments of the industry, to help businesses and individuals gain the necessary professional development and education to take that next step in their career – or to make the next move in their business. If we can have a positive impact on just one person, change just one business for the better, then I feel like we’re making a difference.
What are some of your thoughts about the current state of the music products industry and music making in general?
I see a very interesting situation developing. On one hand, technology is driving incredible innovation, electronic instruments, recording and technology used in live events is better, faster and less expensive than ever. It also becomes obsolete quickly as the next model is even better than the last. And at the same time, I see an insatiable appetite for hand-crafted, custom made, beautiful instruments and gear that will last forever.
In an ever-changing industry, how do you keep abreast with what’s going on and make sure you are ahead of the curve?
Things sure do move fast today don’t they? We look to the industry media like The Score Magazine to help us spot new trends and find ideas for new services to offer our members. We also visit members around the world each year to get first-hand information. NAMM is fortunate to have a great Board of Directors who help guide our direction and keep everything on the right track. It takes all of this and much more to stay up to speed on everything, and even then, I live in fear that we’ve missed something!
How do you see the Indian market at NAMM? How important is it and what do you plan for them?
Like many markets, the Indian market is diverse and full of opportunity. We value our NAMM Members that are from India and are proud to say that they make and sell some of the best products out there. We’re also proud to have members from India who are on the front line of finding new and innovative ways to expand the number of active music makers. They belong to NAMM and come to the NAMM Show each year to buy and sell, network with peers, learn business best practices and to get a sense of market direction and which product breakthroughs will be big in the year ahead. In my opinion, the NAMM Show is the one place where all countries can come together for the betterment of all.
Elaborate on your Educational programs at NAMM.
The 2018 NAMM Show presented more than 500 educational sessions. Each morning of the show started with a NAMM U Breakfast Session, featuring world-class thought leaders in their respective fields. Throughout show hours, music retailers could attend NAMM Idea Center sessions every half-hour, right in the convention center lobby. These sessions covered a variety of topics, such as marketing your business, best practices in video streaming, expanding your music lesson program and more. Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in free education by specialty area, including in Pro Audio through TEC Tracks, A3E: Advanced Audio + Applications Exchange, as well as in a paid program with [email protected] For those seeking event technology education, ESTA, the Entertainment Services and Technology Association, presented a curated education program that also included sessions from Lighting Sound America/PLASA. Plus, event technology education benefitted from the Pro Production Sessions by PLSN and FOH.
What business trends did you observe in 2017?
In the larger sense, you have an incredible convergence of technology, driving innovation, electronic instrument development and in many ways, helping to drive the development of more traditional instruments. In 2017, there was a continued trend of investment in research and development, supported by technology, driving the introduction of new products and product refinements.
What’s your plan for Summer NAMM 2018?
Summer NAMM is our annual mid-year gathering and the platform for the industry to convene to prepare for a strong fall and holiday season. Members who attend Summer NAMM will have some of the best education available each day of the show through NAMM U sessions, and before the show opens, the Retail Training Summit; a one-day intensive training program in all aspects of retail business management. Members also the chance to make new business connections and to build deeper connections with their current partners while making those important business decisions on merchandising, and what new products or lines to carry for the busy fall and into the holiday season.
One of the most inspiring aspects of Summer NAMM will take place Friday evening, when we’ll take a break from the show floor and gather as an industry to honor the Top 100 Dealers from around-the-world for retail excellence. It’s here, where peers come together to recognize those businesses who’ve made an impactful change or have found creative solutions to retail challenges. It’s an incredible night, filled with energy and strong sense of community.
Plans for 2019 Winter NAMM show?
Our plans for each NAMM Show is guided by feedback from our wonderful members and our board of directors. In reviewing this, our team of NAMM Staff begins work on the show to curate the best possible experience for NAMM members, and while it may be a bit too early to announce our plans for 2019, we look forward to again bringing our members a multitude of education opportunities, networking events, and the opportunity to develop new or reaffirm existing business over the course of four days of our annual “family reunion.”