NAMM Show – A Cool Start to 2007
in Anaheim, industry shakes off a tough year
Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was dubbed the Teflon president by a grudgingly admiring Democratic congresswoman. Her point was that no matter what bad news might emanate from Washington, it had no appreciable effect on the great popularity of the president.
Jumping ahead 20 years, we might now re-apply that phrase to the annual industry get-together in Anaheim, which can be fairly characterized as The Teflon Trade Show. Coming off a year when it seemed a good part of the trade was battered from pillar to post (or at least perceived itself to be), the new year nevertheless ushered in another tumultuously uptempo NAMM Show of the type weve grown accustomed to in recent years.
Looking back on 2006, one might imagine recent events would have a negative effect on the show in terms of attendance, the number of exhibitors and size exhibits, and the general mood of those on hand. The litany of woes suffered during the year encompassed the ongoing encroachment of mass merchandisers cutting into the MI pie for a good-sized piece, the very high-profile bankruptcies of two of retails largest operators, Brook Mays Music and The Woodwind & The Brasswind, Guitar Centers ascendancy in markets large, small, and in-between, the onslaught of low-cost imported goods squeezing prices and margin dollars, a spotty school music picture nationally, and a somnolent piano market. Beyond the music products industry it was a year of war, soaring energy costs, middle-class wage stagnation, and the growing specter of global warming. Not too cheerful, huh?
And yet, the 2007 NAMM Show, held Jan. 18-21 at the Anaheim Convention Center, brushed aside a pretty demoralizing year and hung up records in both domestic and overseas attendance and exhibitors as well. At the shows close NAMM reported a four percent increase in overall registration for a grand total of 84,695 registrants. The association previously announced breaking the all-time record of exhibitors with 1,535 companies displaying products at this years how. International attendance showed an eight percent increase for a total of 9,889 registrants from more than 100 countries.
So whats NAMMs secret for transforming a glum business into a four-day fiesta? Its really no secret at all: NAMM has now put on close to 200 trade shows since the associations founding in 1901 and theyre good at it. This years show combined the 1,500-plus exhibits with a extensive agenda of half-hour professional development programs throughout the four days of the show, and the popular daily free breakfast meetings featuring top industry insiders. Throw in a boatload of exhibitor receptions, dinners, parties, and concert and the NAMM show is very close to being an around-the-clock experience.
On a more philosophical level, the NAMM Show is timed and planned to give the industry a valuable opportunity to re-charge the batteries, put on a new face of optimism, and come up with strategies to face the year ahead with a positive attitude. Its also the industrys foremost forum for making new connections, both on the show floor and off, that can have far-ranging positive effects ones business down the road. Virtually every trade association holds its own meeting in conjunction with the show, allowing the industrys many segments to interact and also to attract new members to their rolls. Coming off the year most of us recently endured, the NAMM Show is truly an annual shot at renewal and redemption, one very few wish to pass up. And, judging by this years numbers, very few did.
We were gratified to see the industry come together during these challenging times to work together in order to seize the many opportunities ahead of us in the coming year, said Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM. NAMM is pleased to serve its members by producing the NAMM Show which fuels our circle of benefits, where show revenues are reinvested back into the industry through market-building programs, partnerships, and initiatives that drive more interest in making music.
A Space Squeeze
On the eve of the NAMM Show, the association was again scuffling to accommodate exhibitors at the last minute and by show time every nook and cranny of the convention center was booked. This has now been the scenario for several years and it poses a question: Has the show once again outgrown its ancestral Orange County home?
Many will remember NAMM was forced to decamp from Anaheim when the Anaheim Convention Center (as well as the ageing Disneyland complex next door) embarked on major expansions in 1997. The NAMM Show moved up the road to the Los Angeles Convention Center for three shows spanning 1998 through 2000. While the Los Angeles venue sufficed during this period, most felt both the facility and the widely dispersed hotel housing situation in and around L.A. tended to make those shows something less than the expected NAMM Show experience. With great relief to virtually everyone, the Anaheim renovations were completed and the show returned to that city to greet the dawn of the millennium in 2001.
It soon became apparent, however, that the expansion might not have been extensive enough to slake the apparently endless desire for exhibit floor space on the part of the global music products industry.
Piano exhibitors and some of the larger guitar companies quickly filled the ballroom space fronting the convention center. Percussion exhibits and the massive Roland display consumed the new Hall D and, in time, the downstairs Hall E became a sold-out space for smaller exhibits as well.
Six shows later, the demand for space by new companies (and more space by many longtime exhibitors) continues, and its hard to see how the Anaheim Convention Center, given now that the structure nearly touches the adjacent Hilton and Marriott hotels. While everyone loves the famed campus feel of Anaheim, it may soon be time to again investigate the few facilities around the country offering a little more elbow room.
NAMMs next trade show, the 2007 NAMM Summer Session, will take place for the second year in a row at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, July 2729. For more information, visit www.summernamm.com. The 106th NAMM Show will take place in Anaheim, Jan. 1720, 2008.