Hugely Successful NAMM Show Leaves Industry Beaming
By Dan Ferrisi and Amanda O’Mahony
Emanating, as always, from Anaheim CA, the 2012 NAMM show was, without question, an unqualified success according to all metrics, from attendance to exhibitor numbers to show-floor exuberance to attitudes about where we, as an industry, are going from here. The NAMM show is, of course, the largest and longest-running musical instruments and products trade show in the United States. At show close, NAMM reported 95,709 registered attendees, a six-percent increase from last year; it represents a new record for the 110-year-old show. International registration also experienced a 15 percent surge from last year, rising to 11,981. The association previously reported strong exhibitor numbers, with 1,441 exhibitors at this year’s exposition, including more than 235 new exhibitors.
The annual trade show, which has become known as the place where music products retailers meet face-to-face with manufacturers to make their biggest purchases and gain product knowledge to employ in their stores for the year ahead, boasted its usual four-day blend of new products, business deals, educational sessions and live music performances. The mood of the show, by all accounts, was an energetic and positive one, making it clear that the music products industry is ready for an extremely strong 2012, regardless of an economy that continues to loom large.
Of course, the sheer number of activities and events occurring during the show precludes our mentioning everything, but we hope to provide a sampling here of some of the most notable goings on in January, starting with the hugely popular Breakfast Sessions that, as always, were held at the Hilton Anaheim.
On the first day of the show, Thursday, January 19, Joe Lamond, NAMM President and CEO, hosted the Breakfast of Champions, the annual session in which he sits down with a group of industry “champions” for up-close and personal discussions about where they have been and where they are headed. This year’s august group included Marcus Ryle, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of New Business Development with Line 6; Rick Camino and Will Urban, President and Vice President of Programming/Business Development, respectively, of Hello Music; George Hines, CEO of George’s Music; and Ray Kurzweil, an American author, scientist, inventor and futurist in fields such as optical character recognition, text-to-speech synthesis, speech-recognition technology and electronic keyboard instruments, to whom Lamond presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. This session—as was, in fact, the case with all Breakfast Sessions—played to a full house.
On the second day of the show, Friday, January 20, David Meerman Scott, Marketing Strategist and bestselling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR and Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, presented “Real-Time Marketing & PR: How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers & Create Products that Grow Your Business.” His high-energy session drew on several examples from outside the music products industry to illustrate points that directly apply to many MI retailers’ businesses. He stressed the idea of gaining attention for your store, as well as creating interesting and valuable information that people want to share. He argued against merely doing things as you always have, saying fear of change creates a barrier to success. He also stressed the deemphasizing of long-term planning in favor of a redoubled focus on instant, immediate interaction. “Speed and agility are decisive competitive advantages,” he averred, once again employing examples to underscore his point.
On the third day of the show, Saturday, January 21, John Arnold, bestselling author of marketing books, including Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, Mobile Marketing for Dummies and Email Marketing for Dummies, and columnist, blogger and expert writer for Entrepreneur Magazine, presented “The Top 10 Web Marketing Trends for 2012.” The trends covered were ideas that will be propelled further in 2012 and with which professionals should familiarize themselves. As Arnold explained, there are trends that should be implemented immediately: for example, creating a social media outlet and mobile marketing. Additionally, there are those to watch and follow up with later, including mobile push marketing. These trends will target both types of buyers: bargain shoppers (those who shop until they find the best deal) and bargain buyers (who only shop when they have found a discount).
Of course, the Breakfast Sessions were not the only events going on each morning at the show; manufacturers, such as Yamaha, also had meetings, conferences and gatherings. On Friday morning, Yamaha held its NAMM 2012 Keyboard Division Dealer Breakfast Meeting in the Anaheim Marriott’s Platinum Ballroom. A breakfast buffet was provided while Long Beach Symphony Orchestra singer—and new Yamaha artist—Tony DeSare sang and performed on a Yamaha Disklavier grand piano for attendees. The invite-only event focused on strategies, tactics and products, with the goal of helping to prepare dealers to be successful in future promotions. Information was provided on new revenue streams to grow business, how to capture the power of the Internet to drive sales at brick-and-mortar stores, the newest instruments for potential customers, applications to enhance product demonstrations and Yamaha initiatives to boost performance.
On the other side of the equation, NAMM is about working hard and, perhaps, partying even harder, so there were plenty of evening events that allowed attendees to relax, unwind and network…and be exposed to lots of great music. On Friday, at the House of Blues, Roland held the V-Drums World Championship 2012. The competition was intense, and a talented team of celebrity judges, including Thomas Lang, Chad Wackerman, Michael Schack, Craig Blundell and Johnny Rabb, attended to crown a winner. The 16 finalists, hailing from all over the world, showed their skill and creativity at the helm of Roland V-Drums electronic drum kits. Congratulations are owed to first-place winner Baard Kolstad (Norway), second-place winner JP Bouvet (U.S.) and third-place winner Jaroslav Noga (Czech Republic) for earning the top three championship seats.
The 2nd Annual NAMM YP Gutterball Invitational, hosted by the NAMM Young Professionals and Roswell GA-based Music Matters, brought together students, teachers, industry professionals, NAMM officials and guests for an opportunity to have some fun after the second day of the show. The event was held in a private room at the 300 Anaheim bowling alley on Friday. The evening included a finger-food buffet, an open bar and enough bowling to whet even the most frenzied enthusiast’s appetite. Attendees mingled and formed teams to compete for prizes. Bowlers who scored a spare or strike were awarded a ticket toward the final prize drawings at the end of the evening. Some of the prizes recipients won included guitar strings, an amp and a beef jerky prize pack. The two highest scores were given bowling trophies, whereas the two lowest scores were given toilet-shaped trophies.
NAMM 2012 seemed to mark the year of the anniversary, as numerous MI companies observed significant milestones in their respective histories. Sabian, with whose President, Andy Zildjian, we have an in-depth interview in this month’s Five Minutes With, celebrated 30 years in business at the show. Crafter Guitars rang in the 40th anniversary of the company, introducing two new Grand Auditorium models to commemorate it. Fender celebrated five colorful decades of the Jaguar guitar by introducing the 50th Anniversary Jaguar model to much acclaim. Observing its 40th anniversary, Dean Markley decided to issue a limited-edition run of acoustic guitars. For sheer longevity, nobody may be able to outdo Alfred Music Publishing, which commemorated its 90th anniversary. And last, but certainly not least, Takamine celebrated its 50th anniversary with the commemorative T50th guitar, as well as with dinner, great company and wonderful entertainment at The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon in Anaheim.
Earlier-referenced Fender was among the companies with a Southern California presence that welcomed members of the music products community through their doors. Although Fender is, of course, headquartered in Scottsdale AZ, Corona CA is home to the Fender Visitor Center, as well as a large Fender factory and its custom shop. Boasting more than 8,000 square feet of exhibits, featuring hundreds of instruments, amps, photos, historical artifacts, interactive displays and more, the Fender Visitor Center gives guests a fascinating and educational firsthand look at the entire Fender story from 1946 to today. This writer, as part of a large media group, which included a very substantial international contingent, was fortunate to be invited to tour the facilities on Wednesday, January 18.
NAMM’s voting members elected a new slate of nominees to the association’s Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting of Members, drawing on the vast experience of our industry’s professionals. The eight new Directors, joining the NAMM Board from 2012 to 2015, are Tom Bedell, Two Old Hippies, LLC; Keith Brawley, Gibson Guitar Corp.; Tim Carroll, Avid Technology, Inc.; Jonathan Haber, Alto Music; Crystal Morris, Gator Cases, Inc.; Jeff Mozingo, Mozingo Music; Jyotindra Parekh, Rice Music House; and Menzie Pittman, Contemporary Music Center. The Retailer congratulates them all on their election and looks forward to their contributions as part of the Board.
On Friday, NAMM held the 2012 Advocacy Update and Fly-In Reunion immediately following the show. Held in the Hilton Anaheim, the event was hosted by Mary Luehrsen, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations, NAMM, and Executive Director, NAMM Foundation; Nelson Mullins’ Senior Policy Advisor Leo Coco; and Goldberg Associates’ Jim Goldberg. The panel discussed intellectual property legislation, including the Protect IP Act (PIPA), music education advocacy, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and plans for the Advocacy Fly-In 2012. As Coco explained, the event’s discussion changed quite a bit because the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PIPA bills were postponed in the 24 hours prior. NAMM took a stand on the side of SOPA and PIPA regarding the sale of U.S.-brand hard products and the counterfeiting of products on rogue Web sites. Attorney-Advisor for the Office of Policy and External Affairs Susan Anthony, as well as VP Asset Management and President of Magna Life Settlements, Inc., Scott Crohn, spoke on behalf of the U.S. Patent and Trade Office regarding the policies.
The Music & Sound Retailer was honored to be invited to present a NAMM Idea Center session on Saturday, which was entitled “How To Get An ‘A’ From MI Spy.” Nearly 100 eager attendees showed up to hear the words of wisdom offered by expert panelists George Hines, Chad Patrick and Chris Basile, with this writer serving as moderator of the affair. The Retailer’s presence was ubiquitous throughout the show, not only with our Idea Center session but also with ConventionTV@NAMM and the presentation of the prestigious Music & Sound Awards to the most outstanding manufacturers, products, dealers and industry figures of the year.
Reflecting on the hugely successful event, Joe Lamond remarked, “Once again, the NAMM show served as the crossroads for musical instrument and live sound products manufacturers, retailers and their guests from all over the world.” He added, “We are extremely grateful to all of the NAMM members, music educators, artists, partners and media who made this 110th NAMM show a resounding success for the industry and a great start to 2012.”
A sampling of manufacturers echoed the same positivity. “The show was noticeably better in attendance this year,” stated Rick Young, Yamaha Corp. of America. “We were consistently packed Thursday through Saturday, and Sunday was better than in many of the last years. We had a good array of new products to show our dealers, and everyone was upbeat and hopeful. Now that we have the manufacturers and retailers excited, we have one more important group to get excited, and that is consumers. Obtaining the mindshare and walletshare of consumers will be the key to success in 2012.”
“Martin Guitar’s NAMM booth was packed from the opening of the show to the close,” enthused Dick Boak, C.F. Martin & Co. Inc. “It was the busiest show that we’ve ever seen. We depend upon this important gathering to hold critical meetings with our dealers and distributors, and to write scheduled orders for the coming year. The business we conduct at the show is vital to our growth!”
“We had a great, great show,” said Chris DeMaria of Fishman. “We had a couple new products to unveil, and we had a lot of excitement, a lot of traffic and a lot of people came by to see what we’re up to. It was pretty exciting. It was a good year for us in 2011, and it’s great to be back in 2012 and meet with our dealers and meet with some of our business partners. We had a great show! We’re seeing some new dealers, and it’s a great opportunity for the existing dealers that we normally see at NAMM because we don’t always get out there to meet with them face-to-face. This show is great because it really sets the tone and allows a lot of people to get in the mindset for the New Year.”