NAMM Summer Session 2010
In our September 2009 wrap-up of last summer’s NAMM convention in Nashville, we bemoaned the absence of some of the “big name” exhibitors who’d had a presence in previous years and reported on declining numbers, while simultaneously noting a generally positive tone on the show floor.
This year, it was really more of the same – although with a few minor twists. While the 12,462 reported registrants for ’10 represents a four percent decrease from last summer, it’s perhaps a small victory when one considers that 2009 saw a 26 percent decrease in registration, compared to ’08. The actual tally of exhibitors remained steady, with 383 on hand in Tennessee. As with last year, the general perception (with a few exceptions, of course) was that the lower attendance benefited newer and smaller companies, in particular, and that the less frantic and crowded pace allowed for more actual business to take place.
“In addition to some of our industry’s largest manufacturers and distributors, Summer NAMM appeals to the new and emerging companies, and there were 70 brand new NAMM exhibitors this year,” said NAMM president and CEO, Joe Lamond. “During the show, the independent dealers, along with the largest buying and marketing groups, were able to see exciting new products to stock in their stores for the fall and holiday selling seasons. We continue to hear Member feedback about how Summer NAMM is valuable to them, especially in this challenging economy.”
When it Rains, It…
Though in most respects the city had – at least in the areas directly near the convention center – seemingly recovered from the devastating and deadly floods of early May, there were those who suspected that lingering concerns related to the disaster might’ve deterred some potential attendees and exhibitors. “I would hope that they [the floods] didn’t play a significant role,” said Marshall Electronics’ Jim Mona. “But I do know of quite a few people who stayed home due to concerns about the weather, thunderstorms and flooding.”
Both prior to and during the show, NAMM made a point of addressing the recent disaster and making efforts to provide relief to the city that has so often been home to the Summer Show. In addition to the obvious boost to the local economy generated by the convention, NAMM’s efforts in partnership with Next BIG Nashville, American Songwriter magazine, the Nashville Musicians Association and MusiCares were reported to have brought millions in aid to the city through events, a silent instrument auction, and donations from NAMM Members.
The Great Unwashed
Summer NAMM also represented a first: on Sunday, non-industry individuals (the “public” – gasp!) were officially welcomed to walk the show floor.
How to address the issue of these visitors has long been a topic of debate. It’s safe to say that the lines of folks waiting to get whatever high profile endorsing artist’s signature that snake around the larger booths and spill into adjacent aisles are not wholly (or even largely) comprised of MI dealers or industry figures, so there’s no question that there is public interest in the NAMM get-togethers and that these people often manage to find a way to get in to the hall.
Some have long advocated making the Shows open to all – the NAMM conventions are well known by most serious, and even semi-serious, musicians. Allowing interested parties to attend, encouraging exhibitors to really pull out the stops and call upon their biggest artists to show up and perform, could not only lead to and up-tick in profit, but also increase visibility and help build the culture by making the Shows high-profile “events.” Then there are those who feel the added foot traffic would make it even more challenging for dealers and suppliers engage in meaningful conversation and broker deals. Also, many exhibitors – particularly those fielding smaller product – worry about increased theft at the shows, if the public were encouraged to attend.
This was the first NAMM-sanctioned arrangement, designed to accommodate both “outside” interest in the show, while respecting the concerns of exhibitors. “Wanna Play Music” Sunday allowed patrons to check out the heretofore industry-only event for $20, or $10 with a coupon from a participating music retailer. Many saw the initiative as a sort of half-measure that didn’t quite hit the mark, but perhaps a promising first step.
“The consumers that were there represented an opportunity to take our message directly to the end users,” said Gerson Rosenbloom of Wechter Guitars. “However, from our perspective, we felt that the consumer attendance was light. Regardless, we encourage NAMM to stay the course and give this new direction the opportunity to take hold.” Gator Cases’ Ken Fuente made similar points: “As you know, consumers always find their way into NAMM Shows and I noticed only a few more consumers than normal on Sunday in Nashville. We were hoping, and prepared, to be inundated with them. I heard from local musicians that they didn’t know anything about Sunday being open to the public… it was news to them. It’s obvious more should’ve been done to promote this. It’ll be interesting to see how NAMM addresses this.” Steven Savvides of Musical Distributors noted, “If NAMM advertised it more aggressively, I believe it could be a good thing, however I do not believe the word got out and the turnout was very weak.”
See You in Anaheim!
With the economy seemingly on the upswing (fingers crossed), hopes are high for this January’s get-together in California.
The 2011 NAMM Show will take place January 13-16 in Anaheim, Calif. For information about 2010 Summer NAMM or to learn more about the 2011 NAMM Show, interested parties can visitwww.namm.org.