NASMD 2011: So Much to Offer
“I feel every year NASMD is better than the year before,” says Mark Williamson of Williamson Music Co. Generally speaking, his fellow attendees at NASMD 2011 – held in Indian Wells (Palm Springs), California – agreed that this year’s gathering was a vibrant, uplifting affair.
When not taking advantage of the scorching (mid-90s) heat by relaxing poolside at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, convention-goers avoided the blazing sun altogether by participating in the numerous lectures and workshops which have long been NASMD staples, and which continue to represent a very real and valuable resource to school music dealers. As (if not more) important, the annual get-together provides retailers and suppliers with many opportunities to socialize, network, and compare notes with one another at industry-sponsored breakfasts, cocktail parties, and dinners.
Much like other recent indicators, including the NAMM Show in January and MusikMessse (see report on page 22), the numbers for the NASMD Convention suggest a rebounding (albeit slowly) MI market. Dealer and manufacturer/supplier attendees in 2011 totaled 320, up from 315 last year, with 51 of those being first-timers or new members. Total member companies appearing at the convention numbered 107, up 19 from 2010.
Along with “old standards” and familiar fare, there were a few firsts, as well. “This year, the Music Distributors Association, which holds its spring meeting during the NASMD convention, hosted a session led by NASMD and MDA members Jess Gonzales and Pat Zerbo of D’Addario on Lean management techniques, with content specifically aimed at manufacturers as well as dealers,” explained Madeleine Crouch, NASMD’s executive secretary. “MDA wanted to offer this session to thank NASMD for its continuing cooperation and hospitality, and to provide valuable information for manufacturers. MDA hopes to repeat next year in Orlando with a session on intellectual property.”
On Thursday, March 31 – the first “full” day of the Convention – NASMD held its Annual Business Meeting where, among other matters, the 2011-12 Board of Directors was introduced by Grayson Zeagler: Joel Menchey (Menchey Music Service), president; George Quinlan, Jr. (Quinlan & Fabish Music Co.), vice president; Rosi Johnson (Mississippi Music, Inc.), secretary/treasurer; Barry Draisen (Draisen Edwards Music); John Jarvis, Jr. (Music Man, Inc.); Peter Sides (Robert Sides Family Music Centers); Robin Walenta (West Music Co., Inc.); and Chris White (White House of Music, Inc.).
2012 will mark NASMD’s 50th anniversary and next year’s Convention is slated to take place at the Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate from March 21 – 24th.
Voices from the Convention
Thomastik-Infeld Brand Manager
“This year’s meeting was well organized and well attended. I thought the sessions I was able to attend were excellent. It seemed like attendance was up and participation was active. I’m cautiously optimistic for the coming months, despite mixed economic signals.”
Mark J. Williamson
Williamson Music Co.
“I feel every year NASMD is better than the year before. It was definitely better than Palm Springs ‘97. I always come back with new ideas and feeling renewed after talking to dealers across the nation. I always enjoy Alan Freidman’s sessions. The resort was excellent and the golf course was amazing. By the way, our team won first place. In the Road Rep Olympics, I got ripped off again! However, this old man will enter again in Orlando and I expect to win this time. WMC just came off an excellent year increasing 26 percent, even though things are getting tighter in Texas. I feel encouraged with our drives so far and it looks good for spring and fall. School capital outlays have already been coming in. Great sign. Step up sales are continuing to rise. Great sign. It is fun to be in the music business because, remember: school music is about the children.”
“The overall mood and feeling that I got from dealers during the convention was very positive and upbeat. Not a hint of impending doom. That being said, everyone was still eyeing budgets at both local and state levels, but this is something that is dealt with by dealers every year, not just in times as these. Suppliers are also in a forward march position, voicing their support to dealers and looking forward to a good sales year.
“Over the last few years, it seemed that the ration of dealer/employee attendance versus the vendor/sponsor attendance was closer than in past years. Some of this is due to the location of the convention and some was due to the cost. The economy forced some to make a choice about the value of attending against the cost to attend. This year, there seemed to be many more dealer/employee folks in attendance and I was glad to see this. Not only should the retailers attend to glean new and valuable insight into how to be more profitable and successful in their market, but they should always consider bringing key employees to the convention in order to expose them to all of the ideas and roundtables that are on the schedule, and then have them take the ideas that they have heard back to their own shops to see how they can be applied.
“I still see that the large dollar purchases will be less evident than in past years. School budgets are always a factor as decisions must be made about purchasing replacement instruments for their schools. There are still a lot of folks that are out of work or are cautious regarding casual spending. Being from the mid-west, I see that even with the RV industry being open for business, business is still not that great. Now, oil prices are soaring again, so it will be some time before there is ‘extra’ money to spend.
“Accessories will be the key margin line for dealers in the coming year. Refurbishment of rental pool instruments, step up mouthpieces, ligatures, straps, etc, are all more affordable than a new instrument and can still invigorate and encourage a player to get more out of their sound.
“We always enjoy coming to the conventions and are happy to participate in a sponsorship role. The schedule is always packed with informative sessions and the roundtable discussions are essential for information sharing.”
“Overall, I thought that the convention was very good. The presentations were very informative, as were the break-out sessions. I thought that the number of attendees was about the same as last year, while the mood of music dealers seemed even more positive than it was in 2010.
“From my discussions with attendees, it seems that retailers and suppliers have been making the necessary changes in their business operations over the last few years so that they can still be successful during challenging economic times. One additional benefit of the convention is the opportunity to socialize with other attendees in the evenings or on breaks at the convention. It is really great to be able to get to know your customers or suppliers a little better in those social gatherings.
“Our outlook for the coming months is for the economy and consumer spending to continue to improve gradually throughout the rest of 2011 and into 2012. Inflation is a becoming more of a concern, however, as gas prices continue to increase along with a large number of price increases implemented in the first four months of 2011 in the MI business. Hopefully, we will not see consumers slow their purchases due to higher product costs and a perceived reduction in their disposable incomes.”
Music & Arts
“This year’s conference was outstanding! I enjoyed the innovative sessions and the opportunity to visit with colleagues. I left with a very optimistic view of the future of school music programs.”
Betsy Winslow Trimber
The Flutist’s Faire
“First of all, I don’t know why nobody else in my field attends! (That is, flute dealers) NASMD had so much to offer that the flute world has never experienced. There is the NFA convention every year, but we never get sessions like what NASMD offers. Not only that, the heads of major manufacturers don’t necessarily attend. If they do, you don’t really have that forum that NASMD provides.
“As a first-time attendee I got to meet some of the heavy hitters in the manufacturing world that I wouldn’t normally get to meet. It was really important since I started a new business this year. The variety of sessions that were offered were great. I attended mostly the managerial and financial portions, since those pertained to my immediate needs. Accounting, rental programs, social media, marketing, websites… I learned so much, and some I put to work immediately when it came time to do my taxes.
“The venue was stunning and the events well run. I am looking forward to attending next year, and encourage others to attend. They are missing out on a wonderful opportunity.”
Tracy E. Leenman
“I greatly appreciated that there were some sessions for new and smaller businesses. Alan Friedman was wonderful, practical, and extremely helpful. It’s great to see so many newer attendees coming; they all seemed to feel it was time well spent. As far as the market, I think it depends mainly on the company’s ability to be “austerity-minded,” not just when economic indicators are down, but all the time – so that ups and downs in the economy have less of an effect on our bottom line (for example, Alan’s comment that most of us have far too much inventory!). Yes, school music programs are being cut, but I feel that if we retailers are involved with advocacy in our communities as we should be, that effect will be minimized as well.”