2012 Winter NAMM Show Recap
While naysayers will no doubt gripe about “padding the numbers,” official figures are up, regardless. NAMM reports that 1,441 exhibitors were on hand this January (a slight increase from 1,417 last year, including 236 first-timers), with a record 95,709 registered attendees (up roughly six percent, compared to last year’s 90,114).
More telling than attendance figures, however, were the attitudes of the suppliers and dealers we spoke with – virtually all of whom were optimistic and positive about the coming year – and the amount of “business” they were doing at the convention.
Great Day For Up
“There were two noticeable differences between NAMM 2011 and 2012,” says Keith Mardak, chairman & CEO of Hal Leonard. “The first was buyer attendance. There was a big increase in buyers at this show, which led to busy and productive days for us. The second is everyone had an optimistic outlook for his or her business. We haven’t felt this level of confidence and optimism for a few years… Undoubtedly 2012 will have its challenges, but we’re looking forward to working with our dealers to make this year the best it can be.”
David Via, VP of sales for D’Addario has a similarly positive assessment: “It was a good show for us. Discussions with customers seemed to focus more on ‘what could be done,’ rather than commiserating in all the things that ‘can’t be done.’ We found the progressive dealers and distributors ready to look at things differently and see what new opportunities and possibilities exist… We expect a solid start to the new year.”
“This is the best show I’ve been to in four or five years,” reports Stan Morgan, president of St. Louis Music. “We knew before we started it would be different, and it was. The dealers are more optimistic, and suddenly looking for new opportunities… We have projected double-digit growth for the year, and based on this show, we’re well on our way to hitting that goal. The next quarter will be extremely strong for us.”
Alfred Music Publishing COO, Bryan Bradley, added: “The show was filled with optimism and great energy, and we continue to see the demand for education materials remain very strong, which, as the world’s largest educational music publisher, was very encouraging.”
“The vibe this year was really good,” agreed Eminence Speaker LLC’s Cobi Stein. “Traffic was up, we saw more customers than last year, and everyone seemed upbeat/optimistic.”
David Hall of Pro-Active Websites put it, perhaps, most succinctly: “We were very pleased with the traffic and business generated from the Show!”
On the final day of the Show, Wayne Thomson of Vancouver, Washington’s Beacock Music said, “There’s been a lot of really cool buzz on the floor… I’m seeing people being much more positive, much more upbeat.”
Eitan Avineri of AMUSE Music Center (Rolling Hills, Calif.) said, “It seems like there’s a good energy [at the Show]… companies are starting to recover. There’s a fair amount of positive energy. People are starting to venture a little bit more into new SKUs, new ideas… it feels like it’s on the way up.”
“Business is booming, man.” enthused Dario Garcia of Greg’s Pro Audio in Whitier, Calif. “Alcohol and entertainment don’t suffer recessions!”
While Garcia’s sentiments could certainly be disputed by many in the industry (it sure felt like a recession a couple years ago…), based on all we saw and heard at the annual gathering in Anaheim, things are certainly (finally!) beginning to look up.
NAMM CEO and president Joe Lamond offered some thoughts on what’s behind all this newfound optimism: “Everyone’s been so afraid to say things are getting better – because they might be wrong. But it seems like companies and dealers are finally taking the plunge and making investments into their business, into education, and it’s having an industry-wide effect.
When everyone is being timid, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. To me, one of the most exciting things has been the idea of trying to effectively serve the needs of each of the ‘tribes,’ be it band and orchestra, combo, live sound, and so on. I feel that, this show, all of the targeted actions we’ve been taking to achieve that goal were really paying off.
“The flipside of all of this is that [the Show] was just a lot of fun. I’ve got to say, I probably had more fun at this Show than at any previous. There was so much to do, so many anniversaries, concerts, and parties. The reality is that getting everyone in the global industry together makes for an enjoyable time.”
Lamond predicts the upcoming summer gathering will benefit from the success of the recent NAMM Show. “Nashville has found a nice niche,” he said. “I think those who go love it and will fight for it; those who don’t have made their choice, but I think this will be a great show and will ride off the momentum of January. What will be at Summer NAMM will dictate how fall and winter goes.”
Summer NAMM 2012 will take place July 12-14 in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit www.namm.org.