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NAMM is a people’s event” – In conversation with the president John Mlyznczak

Hosting a global event especially pertaining to creative field such as music and gadgets is not an easy task. There should be a vision, a target on what exactly the participants would benefit from.Segregating different divisions of music right from artists. Songwriters, sound engineers, gadget enthusiasts, sound producers: the list is incredibly endless. NAMM 2024 has been a never before organised show that brought all the music related people from beginners to experts under one roof where they can interact and gain useful knowledge about upcoming trends, transformation happening in music and many more exciting things. Score had the opportunity to interact with the president of The NAMM Show, Mr. John Mlyznczak.

After a break, the Winter NAMM Show is back. What are the key highlights or new features that attendees should look forward to in 2024?

Absolutely. We know after several years of not being around NAMM and finally coming back to it in January , but we were sure that we won’t fall back anywhere, we went for where the industry is going. After three years, there were lot of disruptions, we have to think forward. So, we are here, gathering information so that it serves all the communities. But, the way looking forward was embracing all our audiences that make up the musical products, right? And that’s not just the people who make the products,  distribute products and sell products. It is the people who influence the products. It is the people who teach products, and the people who work with them day in and day out. Like the artist on stage, and score magazine followers who make up the community, we are not just representing 60,000 people in the show and 62,000 communities and the connection of those communities, networking, the products, the education sessions we offer: that’s the kind of association we wanted to bring, connect and gather and that’s where we see the incredible energy. It is the right mix of people, just like the mixers where one can turn the influencers. Compression of drummers and that is really cool.

The NAMM Show is a cornerstone in the music industry. How has it evolved over the years, and what exciting changes can attendees expect this year?

Absolutely, you are so right. We are a 123 year old association and this is 122nd show, since when we had our first show happened in 1902. And we have always been evolving. As a membership association, we are not just a trade show but some more. As for me NAMM , we are continuously evolving where the industry is.  We are at a time now where technology and innovation is moving faster than ever and we have to move faster than ever. The evolution of NAMM – we have always evolved with our members and now we need to evolve ahead. Our companies and people creating music, and trading music now are thinking of selling their music in the first quarter of the year by doing business on this floor, but we are thinking ahead, in terms of decades, right? We are thinking of the innovations of new research of consumer behaviour with AI. We have looked about and collecting data to know where the industry is going. We need to be like an evolution agent for our members. We are really stretching ourselves to not just understand where our members are, but also on where our members are going

It is a lot of work, but is super fun (laughs).

The NAMM Show is known for showcasing cutting-edge music technology. What trends or innovations can we anticipate being prominent this year?

As far as technology innovations what we have seen this year, is right in line with incredible boom of live sound business. After the pandemic, there is a complete rush to touring, the technology to keep up with that is incredible. Some of live on-stage plugins, technology and live sound, amplified stadiums where every seat gets the same listening experience, the amount of digital technology that has been injected into live sound and lighting. We are very excited to see innovations happening in lighting as well. I was kind of surprised not to see many AI based products but I think that’s because we are too early in that kind of technology and where we are going. There is a lot of talk of course about how AI would go in the future. 

As the global music community gathers, how has the show adapted to the changing landscape of the music industry, especially considering recent challenges?

I’m so glad you have asked about the global industry because, we recognise that we represent the world. Over 35% of our memberships are from international companies. We also recognise  that the type of connections  that empower our industry with the various industries in the NAMM show and do their business. We are so globally interconnected. We rely on distribution, we rely on partnerships, we rely on all that. But, what we did specifically did was, we made sure that all the partners from 124 countries that do come for business this year will not feel they are not attending a US-based show but part of their own show. We held receptions for each country from Latin America, Europe to UK, Canada, Australia and Japan and make them feel welcomed. We did this in culturally relevant way. We travelled the world during last September and October to understand individual cultures and my team was amazed. The theme of our show about industry insights this year and we did it globally. 

The NAMM Show is a hub for networking and collaboration. How does the event foster connections within the industry, and what opportunities does it provide for professionals and enthusiasts

Absolutely. Couple of things we have done here. We recognise that NAMM is a career accelerator, first of fall. Professionally, NAMM gives a platform for showcasing products. Our education offerings are specifically targeted to make sure to development in resources and knowledge for people in industry across. We also have a really strong commitment towards individual member which is a new membership category. We recognised that traditionally an individual working for a company and the  title of the company at the NAMM show. But, we know now today, and actually for a long time, a lot of people are independent in our industry. You might produce a little here, play a little here, have an endorsement deal here, and that’s okay because we want to make sure that people working on musical products have a path. So, now we have 3000 individuals participating in the NAMM show who work in the industry, or traditionally having a badge representing a company, but now it is what they individually create or contribute to the industry. That individual spirit willing to contribute to the industry now drives other employees of the various companies and motivates them. We have seen that happen this week in the NAMM show and we are planning a new event this summer called NAMM Next that is solely focused on professional development of individuals. No exhibits, no products, only professional development of individuals in the industry.

For those attending The NAMM Show for the first time, what advice or tips do you have to ensure they make the most out of their experience?

I’m so glad to get this. It is going to be overwhelming, but it is okay. Plan ahead, use the NAMM Plus app. We put the schedule very far in advance to have plenty of time to see what all is happening. Make a plan, right, and everyone knows that if you have a good plan, there is everything to throw it out. Make a plan to arrive at the NAMM, and once you get here, you are surrounded by the entire world of music industry and music making. So, make a plan, but remember you have come to NAMM knowing when to get out of it. But when you leave NAMM, you will understand about the opportunities that you never knew when you walked in the door. So, prepare yourself for the balance and be open to various opportunities.

The advice I always give to first timers is that we are a passionate industry of musicians and work very hard and at the end of the day whether they are competitive products, or competitive retailers or competitive podcasters: we take care of each other and like a family. All we do is hug, and smile, and hug, and smile. So if it is your first time to NAMM, you can walk to any stage show, or anyone in the hall to say Hi and speak about what you do and you would be embraced. So, don’t come here scared, or feel that you cannot interact with big companies, because the big companies are here so that they can talk to you.

How do you look at India at the NAMM show?

At the end of the day, NAMM is about creating more music makers. We are a non-profit association and we serve the music makers, and when we think of investing on music making in the future, India is surely they’re in the list. South America, and eastern side of the world as well. We want to bring more music makers to NAMM and understand the challenges and abilities in each country. When it comes to India, there are quite some challenges that were already solved by other countries. We understand the culture behind the music and we value it, and it’s India.

What according to you is the success of NAMM show?

Hmmm.. the success of the NAMM Show is : we are not in music product business. We are into people’s business. The success of NAMM show is about the people. The people create energy in the NAMM show. The people who showcase their knowledge to others, the people who grab a beer and have a conversation with a fellow participant. These relationships matter. people create energy, People are positive, they create ideas. Once NAMM Show is open, it is completely the people who take over it.  

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