The 2019 NAMM Show: Annual Gathering Maintains Momentum, Increases Global Reach

by Christian Wissmuller, Victoria Wasylak • in
  • February 2019
  • Show Report
• Created: February 18, 2019

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“This year, I believe we were all blown away by the effort our exhibitors put into the show,” says NAMM president and CEO, Joe Lamond. “The new product launches were probably the most we’ve ever had, a vibrant sign for the industry. And our dealer participation, especially in the NAMM U Breakfast sessions and Idea Center broke our previous records. To me, new products for our customers and education that makes us all better in our roles make for a powerful combination, found only at the NAMM Show. Our team is grateful for the support and will continue to innovate to provide the best possible experience for all our members!”

115,301 registered attendees visited this January’s gathering in Anaheim – up slightly from last year’s total of 115,085 – and the Show hosted over 2,000 exhibiting companies (also up a bit over 2018’s 1,931) representing roughly 7,000 brands. NAMM cites realigned member badge allocations as having helped to ensure an enhanced professional attendance resulting in “a more focused business experience.”

Significantly, the 2019 NAMM Show also saw clear indication of the convention’s growing global prominence, with a targeted year-over-year increase of 14 percent in international participants.

Breakfast of Champions

As has been the case for many years, each day of the Show began with a NAMM U Breakfast Session. On Thursday, January 24, Joe Lamond hosted “Breakfast of Champions,” where he and pioneers in the music products industry explored the concept and power of originality and Nancy Wilson was presented with the Music for Life award, an honor annually given to a musician whose body of work and legacy has inspired music makers. In her interview with Lamond, Wilson spoke of her early inspiration: “As a kid, when The Beatles happened, it was a lightning bolt that struck us, and we were driven to have guitars, to write songs, to be in a band and get up on stage and to just turn it up. We had the work ethic of go get ’em and to not take no. We just went and did it.” Wilson also fondly remembered her childhood music store and the staff who made her feel welcomed and encouraged her: “There was a little music store I could walk to Band Stand East near Seattle, it was a mom and pop. They had really good guitars, and I got to hang around and play them.”

Get Yourself Educated, Kid!

Roughly 500 NAMM retail members attended the new Retail Innovation Summit prior to the start of the Show. The all-day Summit presented a future-forward education experience, hosted by world-renowned retail guru Bob Phibbs, “The Retail Doctor,” and covered top trends, including the new technologies, retail shifts and more shaping the customer experience, and offered solutions for scaling business to meet them. Throughout the Show, the idea generation continued for retail members in the NAMM Idea Center.

Located in the lobby of the Anaheim Convention Center, NAMM U offered more than 40 different sessions all day through Show hours. Sessions featured thought-provoking ideas, tips, and tricks proving successful in retail today, including “Decoding Google: Advanced Strategies for Businesses,” “YouTube Hacks for Music Retailers,” “How I Grew My Lesson Program to 1,000+ Students,” and best practices in finance, employee engagement, increasing foot traffic, merchandising and more, offer real, tactical value to NAMM members.

NAMM Welcomes Eight New Board Members

On January 26, at the Annual Meeting of Members at The 2019 NAMM Show, NAMM welcomed eight new board members to the organization’s Board of Directors. Each board member will serve a three-year term and provide oversight, input, and direction to the organization.

“Our all-volunteer board of directors is a remarkable group of industry leaders who through their advisement help to advance and strengthen the industry. It’s with great enthusiasm that we welcome the new board members and thank them for their willingness to serve,” affirmed Robin Walenta, chair of the NAMM Board of Directors and president of West Music Co. “And with deep gratitude, we thank our outgoing members who have helped shape the organization through their guidance and oversight.”

NAMM welcomes the following members to the organization’s Board of Directors: Robert Baker, Schmitt Music Company; Brian Ball, Ernie Ball, Inc.; Kimberly Deverell, San Diego Music Studio; Brian Douglas, Cream City Music; Doug Lady, Hal Leonard LLC; Bryan Ottens, Peter E. Schmitt Co.; Tristann Rieck, Brass Bell Music, Inc.; and Gary Winder, DANSR, Inc.

The meeting also celebrated the service, leadership and the many contributions of the outgoing members of the board, including Steve Ceo, C.A. House Music; Cindy Cook, The Candyman Strings & Things; Larry Fishman, Fishman Transducers, Inc.; Richard McDonald, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation; Clinton Muntean, Mainline Marketing, Inc.; Myrna Sislen, Middle C. Music Corp.; Tabor Stamper, KHS America, Inc.; and Clint Strait, Strait Music Co.

Pro Audio’s New Home: the NAMM Show

With more than 250 pro audio sessions dedicated to each aspect of production, emerging and established professionals had a myriad of options to grow in their careers. TEC Tracks offered big-picture sessions to uncover topics ranging from building a profitable home studio to an inspiring keynote from engineer extraordinaire Chris Lord-Alge. Other highlights included “The Future of Music” with Craig Anderton; Mr. Bonzai interviewing Danny Kortchmar for his inside perspective on classic records, classic artists, and the highs and lows of the music business; “Pioneers of Analog Synths,” a special panel presentation by Michelle Moog-Koussa; and “Prince: The Making of a Legend,” with the original arranger from Prince’s team, Brent Fischer, who, with his late father Dr. Clare Fischer, collaborated directly with Prince over three decades.

AES@NAMM Pro Sound Symposium: Live & Studio returned for its second year. As the premier education and training program for working professionals in live sound, recording and performance audio, the four-day international symposium offered seven Training Academies and related sessions on line-array technologies, microphones for studio and stage, livesound mixing consoles, wireless systems and studio environments, in addition to tutorials on system measurement and optimization, plus informative and intimate sessions with leading industry pros hosted by veteran FOH engineer Robert Scovill and studio guru Bobby Owsinski.

Timeless Pro Production Sessions from FoH and PLSN, Lighting&Sound America/PLASA

The Pro Production Sessions, presented by Front of House, Stage Directions and Projection, Lights & Staging News magazines brought the leading names in entertainment production together to offer a more in-depth look into iconic projects’ designs and the forward-looking trajectory of production technology during keynotes and single-speaker and panel presentations. Among the highlights of the Pro Production sessions were the “In-Conversation With…” interview series, featuring in-depth discussions of production in events and music, along with a slate of panels, including “The Creative Vision of Teamwork—Realizing the Production Design;” “Taking The Stage—The Rising Lighting Designers;” “Getting the Show on the Road—Top Production and Tour Managers;” and “The Many Realities of Video.”

“In our second year as being part of NAMM, it is clear that the opportunity to put on these sessions is a huge success,” says Terry Lowe, MMR/PLSN/FOH magazines publisher and executive producer of the Parnelli Awards. “From Kevin Lyman to the top lighting, audio, and video designers for the likes of U2, Taylor Swift, Fleetwood Mac, and other top acts really benefits all who attend The NAMM Show. We’re so grateful to provide access to this kind of real live industry talent to those just starting their careers in this business or thinking about it.”

Parnelli and TEC Awards

Friday night’s Parnelli Awards recognized the pioneering, influential professionals and companies for their contributions to the live production industry. Founded in 2001 and named after industry luminary Rick “Parnelli” O’Brien, the awards brought together the live entertainment community in a vibrant annual gathering to recognize the best-in-class across 22 different categories. Brock Adamson of Adamson Systems was honored with the Parnelli Innovator Award; Yvan Miron of Stageline received the Parnelli Visionary Award; and Chris Adamson, tour manager for the likes of Pink Floyd, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Aerosmith, Stevie Wonder, and many others received the Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award.

On Saturday, the 34th Annual TEC Awards recognized 31 categories of products and projects in the areas of Technical or Creative Achievement, and the individuals, companies and technical innovations used in sound recordings, films, broadcast television, and video games.

At the TEC Awards, Peter Frampton was recognized with the Les Paul Innovation Award, an honor which is given to individuals that have set the highest standards of excellence in the creative application of recording technology in the spirit of the famed audio pioneer, inventor, and musician, Les Paul.

Gibson: Back in a Big Way

It may be too soon to make a definitive call, but it sure seems like Gibson is reborn – and in the best ways possible. Gibson NAMM Jam at The Grove of Anaheim on Thursday, January 24 hit all the right notes (literally and figuratively), with company reps saying what needed to be said and artists providing great sets throughout the evening – perhaps none more so than the legendary Peter Frampton (and, yes – that’s the Les Paul from the cover of Frampton Comes Alive he’s playing in this shot).

Guests enjoyed a generous supply appetizers, cocktails, and buffet items before the performances started. The whole evening epitomized the concept of “rejuvenation.” Gibson CEO James Curleigh (“JC”) spoke prior to the performances and noted, “I couldn’t be more proud of what the Gibson team has done the past three months… We are working to get back to the iconic Gibson title that we’ve earned and will continue to develop together.” Comedian and actor Jeff Garlin provided humor between sets and bantered with the house band lead by Jimmy Vivino, Kenny Arnoff, Rolling Stones touring bassist Daryl Jones, and Jeff Young.

The night featured performances from Jared James Nichols, Heart’s Nancy Wilson, Cam, Emily Wolfe, Black Pistol Fire, The Doors’ Robby Krieger, Peter Frampton, Steve Mackey, and ended with a rousing set by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.

JodyJazz Honors P. Mauriat Music with Top Global Customer Award

At the recent 2019 NAMM Show in Anaheim California, JodyJazz Inc. honored P. Mauriat Music with their first “Top Global Customer” Award. P. Mauriat Music is the exclusive distributor of JodyJazz products in Taiwan and China. JodyJazz Inc was inspired to create this award and present it for the first time, due to P. Mauriat Music’s spectacular sales performance in 2018.

Petersen Honored with NAMM’s ‘Believe in Music’ Award

George Petersen, editor of MMR’s sister publication, Front of House (FOH), as well as the director and founder of the NAMM TECnology Hall of Fame, was honored with NAMM’s “Believe In Music” award on Jan. 26 during the NAMM 2019 show.

The award honors those who have served as passionate advocates and innovators, working on the music industry’s behalf. During his career, Petersen, a noted author and veteran pro audio journalist, has written more than 2,500 articles on every aspect of audio and music production, as well as having penned 500 product reviews, five books, and lectured extensively on audio production in five continents.

GAMA Panel Weighs in on Women in Music and Diversity

After addressing the changing market and new kind of guitar heroes on last year’s annual panel, GAMA hosted a discussion on women in music at their annual NAMM Breakfast on Wednesday (January 23). Appropriately, She Rocks Awards founder and organizer Laura B. Whitmore moderated the panel, which included guitarists Sophia Beltz, Ali Handal, and Angela Petrilli.

“I feel like I’ve worked 10 years for this panel to happen,” Whitmore said, starting the morning.

Overall, the consensus among the women was that things in general are improving with regards to how they are treated on and off stage, but that there’s still plenty of room for improvement, especially when it comes to how women are treated in music stores. All the women agreed that they get badgered with obvious questions from male clerks often, which may be why some women prefer to shop for music gear online.

As Petrilli noted, “it’s always those little questions…’do you know how to tune it?’ I know you wouldn’t ask a guy that.”

As for brands themselves, all four women agreed that they’re glad the industry is starting to move beyond the “pink guitars for women” trend. While anything that helps young women – or anyone –get into making music is a positive, of course, making pink the only option for girls truly limits everyone and makes the instrument seem like more of a toy than a professional piece of equipment.

Says Handal, “The whole pink thing is just condescending. It’s insulting…I wanted to play an instrument that real people play. I wanted to be taken seriously by other musicians.”

NAMM president Joe Lamond stopped by the gathering and summed the matter up well in his own words: “there’s so much more work to do on diversity,” he said, citing not only just gender as a factor, but also the span of ages and countries players hail from.

“Include everybody, always, not just when it benefits you,” advised 13-year-old Beltz to companies in the room.

Remo Sees Pink (and Purple) at International NAMM Breakfast Gathering

Remo hosted their annual breakfast and international meeting at Winter NAMM on Thursday (January 24) to share their latest offerings and discuss the state of sales overseas with the current issues with tariffs.

“Those issues present challenges and also present opportunities. That’s something Remo [himself] talked about,” said Remo president Brock Kaericher.

“That’s what drives us. It drives us on a daily basis. We have an item that people have depended on for years and will continue to depend on.”

Also with regards to international business, Robert Shen spoke on behalf of Remo Asia, taking the position of his late father Freddy. Speaking on Remo Asia, he noted “it’s always been on the periphery, but we want to bring it more to the forefront.” With a factory in Taiwan, Shen emphasized that for many overseas dealers, buying from Remo Asia would be more inexpensive than purchasing from Remo USA.

Vice president of sales and marketing Bob Yerby came forth to show off two new colors for REMO’s Colortone drumheads, pink and purple. He also demonstrated the Sub Muff’l and adjustable bass drum dampener, while Chalo Eduardo demoed their new world percussion offerings.

PRS Debuts New Guitars Alongside Santana and Jaksyzyk

Thursday afternoon (January 24), buyers and members of the press crammed into PRS Guitars’ booth to see Paul Reed Smith chat with both Carlos Santana and King Crimson guitarist Jakko Jaksyzyk about the newest PRS models. “Spiritual confidence and conviction is something I get when I play these guitars,” Santana said, true to form, as he chatted with Smith about the SE Santana Singlecut Trem.

Roland Presents Fourth Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards

Roland closed off their booth on Thursday afternoon (January 24) to host a press conference honoring their Lifetime Achievement recipients for the fourth year. Roland honored DJ duo Phuture with title this year, who created an entirely new subgenre of electronic music with the Roland TB-303 decades ago.

“They inspired an entirely new genre called acid house. We at Roland are deeply humbled for that,” noted Brian Alli, Roland Corporation vice president of key influencers and business development. DJ Pierre accepted the accolades alongside the mother and uncle of his late musical partner, Spanky.

“One day I came across the 303 by Roland,” DJ Pierre recalled. “We didn’t want to sound like anyone else…I thought that was the piece of equipment that could do that. Here we are, celebrating this movement and this sound 35 years later.”

Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Danny Kortchmar also received the BOSS Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of work with musical greats, from producing, writing, and collaborating with musicians like James Taylor, Don Henley, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne.

New for this year was the presentation of the Roland Lifetime Achievement in Education award, which was awarded to pianist and educator Dr. Randall Faber.

PMC Hosts Winter NAMM Meeting

The Percussion Marketing Council welcomed two new members at their Winter NAMM meeting on Thursday evening (January 24), adding Dixon Drums and Hardware and Crush Drums & Percussion to the roster.

The meeting also discussed the council’s recent efforts to create more drummers, from their rebranded website (playdrums.com), to their multiple educational initiatives, like International Drum Month, Drums Across America, and Drum Set in the Classroom. Noting that the percussion segment of the MI industry has not quite bounced back since the recession (while other areas of instruments have), PMC’s goal is to foster new drummers and especially focus on the growing interest in band and orchestra in schools.

“We’re not interested in preaching to the choir…we want to create new drummers,” explained Karl Dustman, PMC co-executive director. The meeting also introduced Jennifer Paisley as a new PMC co-executive director and announced that the prize for International Drum Month 2019 will be backstage passes for a Cindy Blackman Santana show.

Fender Chats with Guns N’ Roses Bassist McKagan

Duff McKagan joined Fender at their booth on Saturday (January 26) for a Q&A with Justin Norvell about his Duff McKagan Deluxe Precision Bass, the second signature bass he’s released with Fender.

“I don’t take it for granted, you know? I really am still kind of in awe, you know, I have my signature special, which is enough for me,” he told Norvell. Sitting in at the booth, he explained the process and in-depth story about his music journey that led him to begin crafting the second model.

“When they [Fender] came to me to design a second one, I [had] started playing with this band called The Walking Papers,” he said. “And I was, at that point, taking bass lessons. I was like 48 or 49, with Reggie Hamilton and Scott Shriner from Weezer. That was great… learning theory for the first time in my life. I really was exploring what the bass was all about. Really getting into it, playing with my fingers, doing stuff I’d never done before.”

After using a modded Geddy Lee Jazz Reggie Hamilton mod (from Reggie Hamilton himself, who else?) during this time period, he got the special call.

“I really fell in love with this guitar and with the drop D and the flexibility of that,” McKagan elaborated. “Fender came to me… They’d noticed I’d switched to this other bass for a while, and we started designing something, a cross between the Special and this jazz bass that I’d taken up with Walking Papers. And you can probably take it from here.”

 

Voices from the Show Floor

We’ve all heard Joe Lamond’s description of NAMM 2019 as being a “crossroads” of musical instruments and production and pro audio and event technology. I would describe our experience this time around as being more like a superhighway.

The focused Pro Audio hall brought us more qualified leads than we’d ever had, our AES@NAMM training session attendance was up double digit percentages vs. last year, we expanded our booth footprint substantially, and could have gone even bigger given the steady traffic we saw over the course of the show. It was an amazing way to turbocharge the brand early in the year and set the pace for a stellar 2019.

Jeff Hawley, Allen & Heath

 

I thought the show was very upbeat for the most part. Similar to last year, there was no one, big deal, but a lot of cool things. I think JC at Gibson will do really great things for the brand. The Gibson NAMM event was also pretty cool – lots of great guitar players under one roof. All in all I thought the show set the tone for a really good year.

Sammy Ash, Sam Ash Music Corp.

 

Casio had a great show this year. Compared to recent years, this was definitely a show were we wrote a lot of orders during rather than after the show. Definitely a lot of enthusiasm and traffic at our booth too. This could also be contributed by the redesign and expansion of our booth as well as the excitement over the new products.

Mike Martin, Casio America, Inc.

 

The Fender booth has always been a NAMM Show destination, but we raised the bar even higher this year, ushering in several firsts. This is the first time in our company’s history that an acoustic guitar – the American Acoustasonic Telecaster – has been our lead story at NAMM. As a Reverb article put it, we had “something for everyone” at our booth this year – from our collaboration with the legendary Jimmy Page and American Performer Series, to new amps, pedals, accessories and eclectic, limited-edition electric guitar series.

Justin Norvell, FMIC

 

After a very successful focus on lifestyle and technology trends at the Consumer Electronics Show, Roland was pleased to return to NAMM with a new location for our exhibit at the entrance to HALL A. Our goals for NAMM this year were to connect directly with influencers of all kinds, and showcase musical performances from a new generation of artists that have built massive audiences first on social media.

Looking back, we were very happy with the traffic to our booth, the response to our products and performances, and the engagement with our live web streams across the four days. Many thanks go to the great Roland Team for making NAMM a success.

Jun-Ichi Miki, Roland

 

We had a great show, although some people came back a bit sick (NAMMthrax). We had a good show last year, but I think this year was a bit better. We had a few more new, eye-catching products that we got a ton of great feedback on – namely our new Jimmie Morales signature congas and bongos, Erik Piza signature bongos, and Custom Deluxe Black Sparkle congas and bongos. Our new cajon stand and guiro mount also got a lot of attention.

The vibe was great, I really felt like people are paying attention to Toca a lot more, and seeing our artists hang out was like a big family reunion! 2019 seemed to be another great year for the NAMM show, with a lot of great performances and new products.

David Day, RBI Music

 

Overall, we felt that traffic in the North Hall was up. Last year we felt a lot of mid-tier store buyers didn’t know to visit the North Hall, and this improved, although there’s still room to improve. I’m not sure the average combo buyer makes time for this hall.

I think morale and attitudes were improved as well. Everyone we met with was enthusiastic and excited about new products. Whenever we enter into a new market we see some skepticism, but this year all our new releases were greeted very warmly. I think people are excited to see IK moving beyond mobile accessories.

Dan Boatman, IK Multimedia

 

This NAMM is incredibly exciting because we’re showing a fuller expression of each of our different brands, with Harmony, with Heritage. We’re feeling a really international vibe this year, and we’re seeing a lot of dealers already from around the globe, coming and being interested in American-made guitars, which is really amazing. What I say for NAMM is that already there’s quite a lot of excitement.

Lauren Hendry Parsons, BandLab Technologies

 

This show was a whirlwind for Wuhan. We had many meetings with business partners discussing our new acquisition. In comparison from last year I was surprised to see some traditionally large booths were scaled way down. A few have even gone offsite to reduce costs. The vibe was positive but it does concern me that the booth and service rates are scaring companies away.

Mark Tirabassi, Cardinal Percussion

 

NAMM was a great experience this year. Tons of traffic & appearances paired with tremendous interest in our new Volume Pedal Tuner, Capo, Cables, and Picks.

Brian Ball, Ernie Ball, Inc.

 

We definitely noticed an increase in traffic and energy at this year’s show compared to 2018. Our team felt that U.S. dealers were extremely positive about the economy and their respective businesses. Our international customers, on the other hand, were mostly concerned, as our meetings with many of them were consumed by the negative impact of the trade war, the strength of the dollar and economic, political and social factors at play. Honestly, we did not experience anything that was “ground breaking.” However, the enhanced visibility of eBay and Reverb at the NAMM show was interesting, as both are seemingly more and more important to retailers in our industry.

John D’Addario III, D’Addario & Co.

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