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Summer NAMM Experiences 5% Growth, Driven by Retailers & Buyers

At Summer NAMM, the annual mid-year gathering of the MI industry, NAMM members from across the world met in Nashville to develop new business strategies, network, and prepare for the all-important third and fourth quarters. Filled with optimism from a promising first half of the year, NAMM members rolled up their sleeves and got to work inside Nashville’s Music City Center from June 28-30, 2018, to invest in their businesses, relationships, learn new skills and best practices through professional education sessions, and gain competitive advantages in today’s marketplace.

“There are many ways to be successful in our industry, but they all require effort and initiative,” says Joe Lamond, NAMM president and CEO. “I believe that the members who came to Nashville for Summer NAMM will be ahead of the competitive curve and deservedly enjoy greater success in the weeks and months ahead.”

Total registrations were 15,010, a five per cent increase year-over-year, which NAMM says represented a variety of factors: while exhibitors sought to right-size their booths with fewer employees and gain greater ROI, retail dealers increased five per cent YOY, and total buyers saw a 24 per cent growth reflecting the demand in the marketplace.

The show, which counted 1,600 brands presented by over 500 exhibitors, demonstrated the optimism of the annual mid-year industry gathering. Exhibitors included a mix of top-name brands in traditional MI, including BOSS, C.F. Martin & Co., Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, Fishman, Gator Cases, Gibson, Gretsch, Hal Leonard, KORG, Peavey, Warwick, Yamaha, and in pro audio, 64 Audio, AEA, Antelope Audio, Aston Mics, DPA, Lavry Engineering, PreSonus, Quilter Labs, Rupert Neve Designs, TASCAM, Telefunken, TransAudio Group, Walrus Audio, Warm Audio, and many others.

"Summer NAMM is an important show for Yamaha as it gives us the opportunity to let our dealers get hands-on with products they will be selling in the fall and holiday season, and launch new products,” says Tom Sumner, president of Yamaha Corporation of America. “This show gives our team and our dealers time to have deeper conversations. We think the more laid-back atmosphere in Nashville is conducive to good, honest conversations."

Marcel James, director of sales and marketing for Antelope Audio, says the show is all about building new relationships: “We have a number of new products here, and there’s such a musician’s community in Nashville that people have the opportunity to touch, feel, and see it in action. It’s all about connecting.”

Summer NAMM is “one of my favorite events of the year,” adds Mike Martin, GM of marketing at Casio. “Nashville gives us the opportunity to reach dealers, to establish new relationships, and display our products and of course, when people put their hands on our products we win, so it’s a great opportunity for us. We really enjoy the [Make Music Experience] on Saturday as we get to meet end users and artists who are out here exploring everything that NAMM has to offer.”

“Summer is such an important part of our plans for the year. It is valuable face time with existing dealers and a great opportunity to meet new ones. So many of our artists are in and around Nashville, it just makes sense to be here,” said Jamie Latty, vice president of sales and marketing for Deering Banjos. “The energy on the floor has been noticeably more upbeat than in previous years. Everyone seems excited to be here and optimistic with the state of the industry as a whole.”

New and returning exhibitors accounted for 164 companies. For a variety of new exhibitors, the vibrancy and intimacy of Summer NAMM meant that their products had the chance to be launched to media and the industry alike. Ian Reddick, luthier and founder of Reddick Guitars of Savannah, Georgia shared that “Summer NAMM has been a whirlwind of activity. I’ve had people from all over the place come by, including the media, to see my new guitar and tell me how great it is. My hope [in coming to Summer NAMM] was to get eyes on it and the traffic here has been very important to me.”

"As a first-time exhibitor at Summer NAMM, my experience has been nothing short of amazing,” shares Jason McDaniel, owner and founder of NoTone Amps, a boutique builder. “I can honestly say that while the return on investment will be seen in the coming months after Summer NAMM, as of right now, my experience has been sensational!"

Michael Samuels of Nashville-based start-up, OTO: Shape of Sound, says that exhibiting has been the best opportunity for product feedback: "As a start-up, it's been super valuable for me, both meeting distributors and wholesale/retail channel people, but also more generally, seeing how people react, and getting a dataset of thousands and thousands of people over a couple of days.”

NAMM U, TEC Tracks, and A3E: Advanced Audio and Applications offered more than 60 professional development sessions curated to enhance skills and business know-how for all segments of the industry. On Wednesday, before the show officially opened, NAMM retail members flocked to the Retail Training Summit, an evolution of the popular Retail Boot Camp program, which offered specialized training for music retail professionals. The format was designed to give hands-on, proven ideas, techniques and tools for retail success in a range of business areas. Retail professionals were able to choose from six sessions ranging from online marketing, finance, and sales, to entrepreneurship. “The Retail Training Summit was great! I was able to send a colleague to one track while I attended the other tracks so we could compare notes and share,” notes Shawna Wingerberg of Antonio Violins.

Other NAMM U sessions featured timely topics, including how to navigate and win in online marketing; building strong lesson programs with low attrition; how to host unique and profitable in-store events; new ideas for creating a customer experience; and creative and cost-efficient store design. Stephen Bailey of The Cymbal Shop in Oshawa, ON, says that, “This year I came to Summer NAMM mostly for the education. Last year was my first Summer NAMM, and I came to establish relationships – it’s tough over the phone. We took in three to four sessions yesterday alone.”

Will Mason CEO and Owner of Mason Music echoed Bailey’s sentiment: “Summer NAMM is awesome. We’ve been coming here for four years, and our favorite thing to do is hang out at the Idea Center and learn. We’re here to hear from other companies that are successful in our industry and learn their best practices so that we can adapt them to our market and then of course, check out the gear, see what’s new, and build the relationships with our vendors.” Lee Raymond of Highly Strung Violins and Guitars said, “I have a notebook filled with page after page of new ideas to take back to my store.”

Along with NAMM U, TEC Tracks returned with two full days of pro audio programming designed to help professionals take their careers to the next level. Notable sessions include “Crafting a Hit Record,” with multi-platinum and multi-Grammy winners Tony Brown, Jeffrey Steele, Steve Marcantonio, and Andrew Mendelson; “Concert Sound for The Eagles,” with legendary monitor engineer Mark Frink; and “Solving the ‘Sound Problem’ at Your House of Worship,” a solution-focused session addressing common challenges. TEC Tracks also played host to a special Studio Engineering Summit: four back-to-back sessions designed to provide an understanding of the realities of studio life, featuring the industry’s most experienced and respected recording veterans.Rob Sanchez, owner of MMP Records | Studios | Academy, says that “I brought ten members of my team with me… and the highlight was the education. I was able to plan and break my team up into small groups so that we were able to attend a variety of seminars. This has been a tremendous learning opportunity for all of us.”

NAMM U Breakfast Sessions delivered future-focused messages to help members prepare for the year ahead – and beyond. Thursday’s “Retail Innovators” session tackled the big trends in retail, from new business models and technologies to the omnichannel experience, and featured the forward-thinking and successful retailers of today along with strategies and best practices positively changing the retail landscape. On Friday, marketing guru Marcus Sheridan’s “How to Become a Digital Powerhouse: Seven Steps to Online Transformation” session delivered on years of digital marketing experience by imparting the transformative strategies needed to win online. On Saturday, the perennial favorite “Best in Show” panel returned with a voting panel comprised of retailers and the publisher of Music Inc. and UpBeat Daily magazines, Frank Alkyer. He presented the packed audience with the hot products chosen from the Summer NAMM show floor that consumers will be buzzing about during the holiday season and throughout the rest of the year.

A variety of special meet-ups, both on the show floor and off, gave attendees a chance to network with industry peers. Summer NAMM’s first SWIM Meet brought together the Smart Women in Music for a networking and discussion event on Thursday; and the NAMM Young Professionals welcomed Crystal Morris, CEO of Gator Cases, on Friday. On the Show floor, TEC Tracks Meetups featured mentoring and extended Q&A in small groups and a variety of pro audio industry luminaries, including Tony Brown, Mark Frink, John Mills and Dave Pensado. On Thursday, the 34thAnnual TEC Award nominees were announced at the Pro Audio Reception. The TEC Awards will be held at the 2019 NAMM Show. For a complete list of nominees, please visit: https://www.tecawards.org/nominees

Each day of the Show, NAMM at Night events could be found in Music City Center and surrounding Nashville hotspots. Thursday evening’s American Eagle Awards honored jazz legends Chick Corea and The Manhattan Transfer. The honors annually recognize notable artists and their contributions to American musical culture and heritage, the importance of music education and inspiration for all children, and the need to protect creators’ rights both locally and globally. “At this year’s event, we are honoring the artists who bring life and imagination to one of our country’s most revered and treasured genres of music - jazz,” said David Sanders, director of the National Music Council. “The time has come to celebrate the enduring legacies and versatility of Chick Corea and all the members of The Manhattan Transfer. Each has set an extraordinary standard for ongoing contribution to American musical culture and heritage and will rightly serve as a mentor or role model for aspiring jazz artists for years to come.”

Singer-songwriter Dianne Davidson shared early stories of The Manhattan Transfer’s formation in New York City and paid tribute to founding member, Tim Hauser. Upon accepting the award, Janis Siegel reminded the audience that, “The lesson here is that you never know what is going to happen. You should follow any lead, risk, where your heart says to go – that’s the lesson.” Flutist and saxophonist Hubert Laws reminisced on his early days at Julliard School of Music where, as a student, Corea organized improvisational jam sessions with Laws and other fellow students. He presented Corea with his award and remarked that “Chick is ineffable. He has an intrinsic gift that’s indescribable with words. When I listen to his playing – you can’t describe it – it’s there, it’s part of who he is. I am so proud to call him my friend.” Just as he did in his early days, Corea reiterated his passion for helping people discover their own artistic sensibilities through music: “I have a passion for inspiring young musicians, as I’ve had a great life of music, but I’d like to see more music in the world, more art in the world. There is no human being alive that doesn’t have an imagination or a talent for art, as it’s an innate quality and I want to inspire everyone to find that in themselves.” The awards concluded with a performance of “Summertime” and “Someone to Watch Over Me,” with Corea, Laws, and The Manhattan Transfer performing on stage.

Friday evening gathered the industry to honor retailers for the Top 100 Dealers Awards. Now in its eighth year, the Top 100 applauds the excellence and innovation found in music retail. This year, Anderton’s Music Co. of Guildford, U.K. was named “Dealer of the Year” and also won the “Best Of” category for “Best Online Engagement,” recognizing the company’s use of social media marketing. At the closing of his acceptance speech, Anderton affirmed that, “At the end of the day, we want to be remembered for making a difference.”

Other “Best Of” category winners included Ish Guitars Co. for “Best Emerging Dealer/Rookie of the Year”; Cosmo Music Co. for “Best Marketing & Sales Promotion”; Midwood Guitar Studio for “Best Store Design”; Five Star Guitars for “Best Store Turnaround”; and The Candyman Strings & Things for “Best Customer Service.” Big Music Co., from Sydney, Australia took home the “Music Makes a Difference” award, which recognizes a retailer with a deep passion and commitment to music in their community. National radio personality Kelly Ford hosted the event which featured a performance by The Voicewinner, Craig Wayne Boyd.

Saturday ushered in the Make Music Experience (MME). Formerly known as “Music Industry Day,” MME welcomed a variety of music makers into Music City Center. Attendees enjoyed curated education from Nashville insiders, and a stream of performances from Lillie Mae, The Delta Saints, MONA, and others. The Pensado’s Place Pro Audio Party also joined the day’s itinerary by hosting a lively session and meet-up on the Show floor. Co-hosts Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick welcomed sound engineer John McBride (Blackbird Studios, Garth Brooks, Martina McBride) for a deep dive into production and sound.

MME Attendees also had the chance to participate in communal music making activities. Before the show doors opened, a parade of cold-weather dressed bell ringers made a procession throughout Music City Center to celebrate the kick-off of Make Music Winter, the winter solstice celebration of making music annually held on December 21 and presented by The NAMM Foundation. Later in the day, The NAMM Foundation hosted two community music making opportunities: a guitar circle, in collaboration with the Guitar & Accessories Marketing Association (GAMA) and Fender Play, and a ukulele circle with Kala. In the lobby, C.F. Martin & Co. presented The Martin Guitar and String Open Mic Acoustic Stage, encouraging aspiring musicians to perform all throughout the day. Outside on the NAMM Reverb Stage on the Terrace, D’Angelico crowned the winner of the company’s Pick Up & Play Open Mic Giveaway, and The World’s Fastest Drummer concluded.

Other notable events included Tuesday’s pre-show Georgia on My Mind Benefit Concert for the Georgia Music Fund staring The Peach Pickers; Wednesday’s National PTSD Awareness Day concert with Guitars 4 Vets presented by Yamaha; the SheRocks Summer Showcase; Friday’s Top 100 After-Party at the Hard Rock benefitting The NAMM Foundation; Saturday’s Muriel Anderson’s All-Star Guitar Night and the Vintage King Summer NAMM After-Party.

The music instrument, pro audio, and event technology industries will gather in January at The 2019 NAMM Show. The NAMM Show campus will again welcome the Entertainment Services Technology Association (ESTA), the Audio Engineering Society (AES), and others for four days of business, networking and events. Registration to attend will open at the end of August.

For more information, go to www.namm.org.