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by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • Editorial
• Created: January 26, 2017
“Email, conference calls, and Skype are all great, but there’s nothing like running into someone on a show floor for a little conversation about what’s really going on behind the scenes,” wrote Forbes’ Bobby Owsinski late last January in his article, “NAMM Shows Why Trade Shows Are Obsolete, And Why We Still Need Them.”
His piece covered the familiar-to-most pros and cons of these types of gatherings in today’s hyper-connected, digital world. The sheer volume of “stuff” available and the ready access to anyone with a reliable Internet connection can be overwhelmingly appealing – even insistently so. The awareness that so much data and knowledge is there for consumption is like having a friendly and excitable dog constantly urging you to take him for a walk. As the title suggests, Owsinski nonetheless asserts that despite the changing landscape for the dissemination and gathering of information and the ever-evolving manners in which people purchase, learn, watch, listen, and consume, conventions – however “quaint” and “dated” their origins – retain value.
While it’s just one of the enduring selling-points of these industry gatherings to Owskinski, for me the main appeal and by far the greatest reason to both exhibit and attend the NAMM Shows (yes, I’m including Summer NAMM) is the face-to-face interaction. Sure, plenty of business transactions will take place (hopefully, anyway), but writing orders and committing to gear purchases is far less of a significant component nowadays even than it was at my own first NAMM Show back in 2002 (so, wait: that makes this my… 16th Winter NAMM Show. Yikes!). For me – and for many friends and colleagues I’ve spoken with on the topic – the main draw of the Anaheim convention each year is the people.
If you’re reading this issue of MMR you’re very possibly someone I email or speak on the phone or Skype with on a somewhat regular basis, but actually being able to bump into, shake hands with, and chat (however briefly), in real time and not via a screen, has an irreplaceable value. This is an industry populated with passionate, intelligent, creative… weirdos, and it’s not often that we have the opportunity to convene with so many like-minded individuals and geek out – in person – over the newest developments in gear, instrument design, and industry happenings.
When I first walk in the Convention Center to help set up MMR’s booth, first see some of the new guitars, cymbals, keyboards, and stands, and – most importantly – first speak to a colleague I haven’t occupied the same physical space as since the last NAMM Show, I’m every bit as excited as I was in ’02 and just as eager to see what this year’s installment of the annual get-together will bring.
I realize I am mostly preaching to the converted here. Many of you are reading this column for the first time while at the NAMM Show, en route to it, or having just recently returned from it. But I also know that there are those who make the call that because of time, money, logistics, or due to the belief that most information collected or business conducted could just as easily be done online/at home/at the office, attending conventions isn’t worth it in this day and age.
In many ways, one can do nearly every essential act by “taking the online dog for a walk,” but while the pull of this digital leash is alluring, it’s important to not remain tethered. There is no substitute for the real thing.

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