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I Didn’t Get My In-N-Out, But Otherwise No Complaints

Christian Wissmuller • EditorialFebruary 2021 • February 3, 2021

Well, that was quite a week. The world’s largest musical instrument and equipment show went virtual and it all panned out… pretty darn well, honestly. A strictly online experience such as Believe in Music Week can never, of course, tick all the boxes of a real-life show, but there were some unexpected highlights to this year’s experience and NAMM deserves a tip of the hat for what they managed to pull off.

Most of us missed being able to grab a coffee or a quick bite with colleagues and friends who we only ever see face-to-face at these sorts of annual gatherings, but there’s no getting around the fact that however “impersonal” a Zoom chat may be in comparison, it’s a lot easier to hear one another when there isn’t an enthusiastic trumpet player or drummer in the booth 10 feet away. I’m also sad to have been deprived of encountering so many glorious ponytails, dreadlocks, and mullets, but my feet and knees do appreciate not having walked over 30 miles in five days (No joke – I wore a pedometer at my third NAMM Show in 2004 just to see exactly how far I was scooting around the Anaheim Convention Center floor and surrounding neighborhood).

While it wasn’t a replacement for a NAMM Show, much of the actual business that takes place during that yearly get-together went on as usual. An enormous range of instruments and gear was introduced and, while the product announcements weren’t accompanied by finger-food and complimentary drinks, many I spoke with – both dealers and suppliers – felt that they were able to make as many or more professional connections as in “normal” years.

“It’s been just as busy as a traditional NAMM Show for us,” said Taylor Guitars’ VP of Sales Monte Montefusco. “You know, when I’m talking to our sales reps, both here, based in California, and around the world, they’ve had just as many meetings… actually, more meetings, than they would normally have. Now, you have access to every dealer that is a Taylor dealer, where at the NAMM Show, you might be dealing with maybe 25 percent of the dealers who actually make the trip to Anaheim.”

Allen & Heath USA’s Jeff Hawley agrees: “We have been pleasantly surprised with the number of quality engagements and the size of livestream crowds throughout the week… The NAMM crew has been a pleasure to work with – even as we all have been collectively building the plane while we’re flying it in some cases.”

I’m among those who hope that we’ll be able to leverage some of the “virtual benefits” that came to light during Believe in Music Week while also resuming in-person NAMM Shows ASAP, but – again – the whole NAMM team really did a fantastic job and so many others put in a ton of effort to really showcase the agility and resourcefulness of our industry. Kudos!

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge Victoria Wasylak who has been MMR’s associate editor for the past four years – almost to the day – and who is leaving us after this issue goes to print. The quality of her work and her professionalism are matched only by her warm nature and quick wit. Thank you, Victoria.

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