NAMM, the world’s largest trade fair for musical instruments and equipment, set to become even bigger

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The world’s largest annual musical instruments, equipment and technology trade fair is set to grow significantly.

Held Thursday through Sunday at the Anaheim Convention Center, this year’s members-only NAMM Show – short for the National Association of Music Merchants of Carlsbad – will see the 117-year event expand both in size and in scope.

The massive trade show will even sound different, thanks to a clever reconfiguration of its expanded layout into what NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond describes as complementary Manhattan-inspired “music districts”.

This growth is due to the fact that the 2018 edition of the non-profit NAMM Show is the first to be held since the opening in September of the new ACC North building at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Built at a cost of $ 190 million, the two-story 200,000 square foot building can accommodate up to 22,000 people. It brings the total size of Anaheim’s facility to 1.8 million square feet, the largest of any convention center on the West Coast.

This growth is being hailed by the NAMM Show, which serves as a mass gathering of tribes for the $ 17 billion a year global industry it serves. (Sales in the United States last year were $ 7.15 billion, an increase of 0.09% from 2015. Figures for 2017 will be released in April.)

Last year, the NAMM Show attracted nearly 1,800 exhibiting companies, including San Diego County powerhouses Taylor Guitars and Deering Banjos, and smaller companies, such as the OZZtosh LUMA two-person guitars.

“Our registration has jumped… compared to last year, going from 102,000 to 106,773,” Lamond said. He describes the NAMM Show 2018 as a “Crossroads 2.0”, a shot that brings together the full spectrum of music, sound and event technology.

Cymbals and drums echo every year at the NAMM Show in Anaheim.

(Photo by John Gastaldo)

Achieve record growth

Former band drummer Tommy Tutone and former tour director for Todd Rundgren, Lamond proudly noted that last year’s NAMM Show featured 7,000 brands from a record 1,779 exhibiting companies. It attracted nearly 18,000 registered foreign members from 125 countries – up 13% from 2016 – and 84,000 from the United States.

“We’re going to be blowing through almost every one of those numbers this year,” Lamond said. “And the number of our NAMM education courses, which are a very important part of the show every year, will grow from 200 last year to 600 this year. We fly away!

Eager to take advantage of the Anaheim Convention Center’s first expansion since 2000, the NAMM Show this year incorporates several other annual trade shows and symposia that were previously held as stand-alone events in other venues.

These include the 70-year-old Audio Engineering Society (with 12,000 members), the 30-year-old Entertainment Services and Technology Association, and the 17-year-old Parnelli Awards, which honor leading professionals in the live events industry. The synergy between these organizations and NAMM should give this year’s event more impact than ever.

Oddly enough, the expansion and widening of the NAMM Show reflects the changing landscape of the music world as a whole. It’s a world that has seen live performances become more and more lucrative, as revenues from audio recordings continue to decline for most artists who aren’t called Adele, Taylor Swift, or Beyoncé.

“We knew we were going to have a new venue, so we thought a lot about how we take this opportunity to grow – and to broaden our vision of the entire music industry – as well as the dynamics of the show itself. “said Lamond, who has led NAMM since 2001.

“The areas we saw for expansion were live events and people’s growing expectations of them, whether it was set design, audio, lighting, or technology in the business. a concert hall or stadium, or a church, wedding or school auditorium. Live performance has become more important than ever and my opinion is that it is a big evolution. Music is meant to be experienced live – it’s a community activity. The fact that tours are so popular has spurred a lot of innovation as expectations have increased and people want a great multisensory experience.

Stevie Wonder receives an award from NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond at the 2012 NAMM Show in Anaheim.

(Photo courtesy of NAMM)

Global reach

Lamond’s sentiments are supported by Tom Sumner, senior vice president of Yamaha Corporation of America.

“We have a significant number of resellers now offering full rental and concert production staff, in addition to retail products,” Sumner said.

“The NAMM Show covers everything in the music products industry. It really is the market for the world and this global reach is really important to us. We receive retailers at NAMM from Europe, Japan, China and all over. And customers around the world can go online and see what’s making its debut at NAMM. Yamaha launches about 200 new products a year, and we launch over 90 at NAMM.

In previous years, Yamaha has hosted invitation-only concerts at the NAMM Show by legends such as Stevie Wonder and Elton John.

This year, Yamaha will open its annual Friday concert to NAMM attendees in general and hold it in the expansive hall outside the convention center, which can seat around 15,000 people. (Sumner declined to name this year’s headliner, preferring to keep the surprise.)

Also on Friday, the Women’s International Music Network will host the sixth annual She Rocks Awards 2018 as part of the NAMM Show. The event, which will be held at the Anaheim House of Blues, will honor nearly 20 people, including Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge, the group Fanny, Exene Cervenka of X and Katie Pierson and Cindy Wilson of The B-52’s.

On Saturday, the Les Paul Innovation Award will be presented to singer-songwriter Jackson Browne as part of the 33rd NAMM Tec Awards, a paid event open to the public. Browne will be honored alongside his former backing band, the all-star group known simply as The Section.

And then there’s the 2018 Parnelli Awards, an event that NAMM’s Lamond described as the “Oscars” of the concert touring industry.

“Ultimately,” he said, “we want to have a solid ground for the convention center, lots of educational and networking opportunities and fun events. “

The increase in size will allow Lamond and his staff to configure the salon into a series of “little quarters” of similar businesses. There will be plenty of public hangouts, dining options, and a more logical flow from neighborhood to neighborhood.

“We will be able to reduce noise on the convention floor by making it more conducive to business,” Lamond said. “Instead of the ‘quarters’ being mixed up, with a drum maker next to a flute maker, they will be more in their own zones. We have hung more sound-absorbing materials from the ceiling and even the signage this year is designed to reduce noise.

He chuckled, then added, “The challenge for us has always been, ‘How do you get the right audience, the right balance of buyers, sellers and music professionals?’ The NAMM Show is a private commercial event, not a public event. Our members therefore have an allocation of free badges and participation is in their hands, which is as it should be.

“NAMM employees are music educators, manufacturers, retailers, software programmers, sound engineers and more. What connects it is that we all have a passion for music and we have chosen it as our life path. “

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Twitter @georgevarga


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