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Wham, Bam – Thank You, NAMM

Menzie Pittman • August 2019Small Business Matters • August 11, 2019

Photo by Garrett Hill

Unpacking from NAMM

Ahhh… you are back in the office and now the real work begins – reviewing your take-aways from Summer NAMM.

By any measure, the summer show was, as always, a success. Attendance increased by seven percent, and the energy of the show truly felt ecstatic. More than once I heard people saying what I hear every year:

“Summer NAMM always gives us more time and opportunity to catch up, interact, and engage than Winter NAMM allows.” I personally do agree with that. And, of course, Nashville provides the perfect backdrop for Summer NAMM. As I was engaged in a conversation with a young musician attending his first show, Sam Bush casually strolled by. After I scraped the boy off the ceiling, I reminded him that at the Nashville NAMM show, it is not a stretch to call that a normal occurrence. Superstar artists Vince Gill and Brent Mason were also on the show floor and scads of Nashville’s music monarchs roamed about daily.

Extra Kudos go to NAMM’s Idea Center and TEC Tracks

Two words, one name, win the day: John Oates! As you would suspect, his session at the Idea Center broke all existing attendance records. He was engaging, insightful, and witty. The superstar writer shared multiple thoughts on the art of songwriting, and no matter which role you play in the industry, this session was special.

The TEC Tracks sessions included Dan Daley moderating a panel that included producer Tony Brown and some of Nashville’s top songwriters. Dave Tuffs, a Belmont University professor, moderated an amazing session with Craig Alvin who engineered Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves’ multi-Grammy award-winning album.

Another informative TEC Tracks session was led by Marcus Cobb, the CEO of Jammber. He spoke about his software that helps musicians track the details of any project(s) in which they are involved, including tracking splits on co-writing for songwriters, as well as all back-office organization. Simply knowing about this product helps retailers maintain credibility with rising musicians, and credibility falls in the same category as emotion – it is a silent salesman.

Sincerely, the topics of these sessions were incredibly germane to everyone in the music industry. They encompassed ideas of where the music business is heading to the technologies available to help musicians achieve their goals efficiently. TEC Tracks sessions once again provided information that keeps a music store relevant.

Classic Cool Gear, Anyone?

Not unexpected, Gibson was present in a big way at the show and they, too, brandished a sense of Nashville style. The performance stage in their booth provided them the opportunity to showcase cool aspects of both their new and traditional products, which ranged from acoustic models to the latest releases in electrics.

However, more importantly, the music manufacturer showcased the application of their product, tying it back into to the purpose of their product by incorporating the ultimate sales tool I mentioned earlier – emotion!

Gibson cleverly hosted a plethora of pickers and YouTube stars (who ranged in age from about nine to the traditional, old-school players). They showcased great vocalists and songwriters covering all aspects of original music and classic cover music too. What a unique way to showcase the various Gibson’s guitars! Plus, this synergy drew the performers’ audiences to the booth on public day helping all parties gain visibility. I would call that a brilliant marketing strategy and a true win-win for all parties involved.

Reviewing Some Takeaways

Playing on the Vince Gill tune called “The Next Big Thing,” do you want to know what the next big thing I heard repeated most often during the show? Are you ready? The most popular buzz phrase heard most often was,” subscription model.” The good news about that idea is if you do have something unique to subscribe to, you now have a popular format available to invite a membership-style clientele.

Coming in a close second was oddly enough an oldie but a goodie: “customer service.” This time, though, the phrase comes with a twist! “Fast service” is no longer considered as important as “genuine service.” “Human capital” is now considered the hot, new real estate. The reason? We are now competing with the growing AI (artificial intelligence) World. Just think of Alexa. And while AI is faster and exact to an unnerving level, it dehumanizes the experience, very similar to automation when it was introduced many years back.

AI doesn’t comprehend the word “improvise.” While AI puts pressure on a staffer to perform at a faster pace, it also gives folks the chance to use a skill that of late has been taken for granted: human interaction. Now the fight is “Old School” versus “High Tech.” If you don’t think old school can bounce back, just think about the new vinyl movement.

In Closing

You will notice I haven’t mentioned too much about the music retail businesses we have all grown up knowing. Of course, B&O had a good presence at the show, displaying many traditional instruments. Martin’s booth is always fantastic because it is a quality company, and their vision is always integral. Leadership at the top is a business principle that is never out of vogue.

But the world of music retail is changing faster than we can even comprehend, and traditional models and historic ways of conducting business are now morphing into tomorrow’s way. Products such as the ones Jammber offers are helping musicians run their world better, and retailers need to stay up to speed with that understanding. It is a simple fact that new products help musicians stay working. If you really need proof of change, just think about Etsy and Reverb’s latest news release. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

NAMM shows consistently bring us into the future world of music, but they never leave us forgetting the old world of music either. Attending this year’s Summer NAMM poignantly captured that. If you have never been to a Summer NAMM show, you are missing the opportunity of a lifetime. Make your next summer vacation a trip to the Nashville event. You get fresh air, exposure to world class musicians, and fresh ideas!

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