Concert Reports


The NAMM Show


The Crossroads of Business Opportunity: The Global Music, Sound and Production Industries Create a Strong Future Together at The 2018 NAMM Show



All Photos: Ray Soto & Steve Kennedy


The global leaders in the music, pro audio and event technology industries came together in Anaheim, California last week for the annual NAMM Show, a crossroads of business opportunities with innovative product debuts, fresh inspiration from over 500 educational sessions, and the immeasurable power of 115,085 registered industry professionals gathering to advance the industry forward over four days of the annual conference.


“NAMM members, alongside our partners and guests, deserve all the credit for creating such an incredibly powerful industry gathering,” affirmed Joe Lamond, NAMM President and CEO. “The ‘crossroads’ of industry pros, coupled with the passion and dedication to drive business forward in new and innovative ways, ensures an exciting year ahead for all aspects of music making and production.”


The creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the industry was on display among the 7,000 brands and nearly 2,000 exhibiting companies on The NAMM Show Campus. Across the two convention center buildings and multiple levels, members had the opportunity to engage and interact with a variety of exhibiting companies. “For us, the whole ecosystem of music is so important, you can’t separate traditional from technology, you need both to succeed,” said Lauren Hendry Parsons of BandLab Technologies. “There are so many opportunities now for a musician with technology and we are really pleased to see NAMM embracing this.” 

“Yamaha serves a lot of different tribes: drums, guitars, pianos, pro audio, school band and orchestra tribes just to name a few, and The NAMM Show actually unites them all”, said Tom Sumner, Senior Vice President of Yamaha. “That’s a big deal for us to reach all of that, at the same time. We get to show the whole company to all those different tribes.”

With business at the top of the agenda, the mixture of professionals and exhibitors from all aspects of the music industry welcomed new opportunities and meetings. Brian Vance of D’Addario shared that, “[NAMM] provides unsurpassed access to our customers and the media. It’s a great opportunity for us to engage with people who can help get our good word out there.

The expansion of the show into the new Anaheim Convention Center North building saw increased pro audio and event technology participation contributing to a 9% overall growth of exhibitors at the show. The convergence of industry members on the floor in each new “neighborhood” was met with enthusiastic response for ease in getting from location to location, and for the sound quality control, that was also balanced with the palpable energy that permeated throughout the convention.



A Convergence of Energy and Innovation


As the foremost, reliable platform for business and launch opportunities for setting products before an international stage of artists, media and attendees, The 2018 NAMM Show provided multi-faceted opportunities for NAMM member exhibitors.

International attendees increased by 8% with representation from over 100 countries totaling 19,356 registrants. As the steady, reliable platform, the show presented a valuable opportunity to convene and conduct business in a central meeting space: “The NAMM Show is the most important [show]. You get to meet so many of your distributors, the retailers selling your products, and musicians,” said Simon Campling of G7th Ltd. “It’s just wonderful to talk to so many people who maybe don’t know about your product, or have been in love with your product for years and just [to] connect with people. That’s what these shows are about, connecting with people on so many different levels.

Attendees were a carefully curated mix of traditional NAMM members, including domestic and international retail and distribution buyers and employees, exhibitors, event tech and pro audio professionals and buyers, media, artists, invited guests, NAMM Foundation GenNext (college music students), Music Education Day (school music administrators and buyers) and Nonprofit Institute (NAMM grantees and affiliates) participants. The convergence of the industry was met with enthusiasm as new innovations were revealed from all sectors of industry, as members also worked to establish new relationships. For exhibitors like Sabian’s Andy Zildjian, the gathering meant that “You have four days to meet the world. Anybody who has a stake in the industry is here: whether it’s distributors, manufacturers, retailers, players, everyone.”



Notable NAMM Moments


As the NAMM community prepared to gather for the show, the mission of NAMM came alive at the pre-show NAMM Day of Service. Held on Tuesday, January 23 at Orange Grove Elementary, the day supported the school’s administrators, teachers and students with a generous, member-enabled donation from The NAMM Foundation of $10,000 that will help to ensure that every child has access to music during the school day. Across the school’s classrooms, 23 NAMM members, including Foundation board member and former New York Yankee Bernie Williams, rolled up their sleeves and offered music lesson instruction with hand drums, guitars and ukuleles. For Tristann Rieck of Brass Bell Music the Day of Service is “such a rewarding experience. To see the kids get excited about making music is transformative. That’s what keeps me inspired to stay working to create access to music for all children.”

Once at the show, a variety of networking and musical events awaited members, including nightly performances on the NAMM Yamaha Grand Plaza Stage. The NAMM Foundation Celebration for Music Education kicked off all four days with a dazzling performance from indie rockers, OK Go.



On Friday, the Yamaha All Star Concert on the Grand welcomed Lindsay Sterling, Marc Broussard, Butch Walker, Shelea, Melissa Etheridge, Michael MacDonald, Sam Moore and others, and on Saturday, The NAMM Foundation and The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus presented acclaimed singer-songwriter Andy Grammer at the annual Imagine Party. At the start of the evening, funk legend Bootsy Collins performed “Together We Can” alongside children from Anaheim’s Loara Elementary and Country Club Hills (Chicago), who received a visit from the Lennon Educational Tour Bus last year.


On Friday, The Parnelli Awards debuted at The NAMM Show, honoring event tech professionals across 22 categories, including Billy Joel’s long-time Production Manager, Bobby “Boomer” Thrasher, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Lighting designer and innovator, Jonathan Smeeton (The Rolling Stones, Marilyn Manson, Jane’s Addiction, Taylor Swift), received the Parnelli Visionary Award; and DiGiCo technical director John Stadius was honored with the Audio Innovator Award. The same evening at the House of Blues, the sixth annual She Rocks Awards recognized notable women in the industry, along with artists Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge, and the B52’s Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, among others.



At the Grand Rally for Music Education on Saturday morning, singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton was recognized with the SupportMusic Champion Award. At the event, she shared her thoughts on the creative opportunities that music provides:“…It isn't a secret that all humans gravitate toward music. Even people that can't hold a tune love to sing. Music is stimulating and healing to the human brain in ways we can't explain. For this reason alone I believe every student should have access to a music class. And no one is ever too old to take up an instrument,” said Carlton. “I was the daughter of a piano teacher and I saw my mom change people's lives with her lessons. She taught a huge range of people, from age three to 60. I am devoted to creating greater access to music education in whatever way I can, because music is a profound form of connection to ourselves and to others."



The special day also included two incredible performances by Country Club Hills school children, The Manhattan School of Music and Bernie Williams. The group performed “Unbreakable,” a song written by the students of Country Club Hills. Closing out the morning was vocal trio, FORTE (Josh Page, Victor Ryan Robinson and Alok Kumar), who delighted the audience with their a capella performance. The morning also marked the presentation of The Don Johnson Award, presented by Musical Merchandise Review and School Band and Orchestra magazines, to NAMM Foundation secretary-treasurer and Founder/President of Sweetwater, Chuck Surack.


Later in the evening, the NAMM TEC Awards recognized 31 categories of products and projects in the areas of Technical or Creative Achievement, and the individuals, companies and technical innovations used in sound recordings, films, broadcast television and video games. Winners included JBL, PreSonus, QSC and others.

At the TEC Awards, Jackson Browne was recognized with the Les Paul Innovation Award, an honor which is given to individuals that have set the highest standards of excellence in the creative application of recording technology in the spirit of the famed audio pioneer, inventor and musician, Les Paul. Michael Braunstein, Executive Director of the Les Paul Foundation, shared that it’s an award that Paul would have very much enjoyed bestowing to Browne: “Jackson Browne’s success as a singer, songwriter and guitarist has had a prolific impression on the music industry throughout his successful career. Like Les Paul, Jackson has never shied away from expressing his emotions or thoughts through his music. I have no doubt that Les would have liked to share a few jams with Jackson along the way.” Upon accepting the award, Browne said, “It means so much to be honored by you because I’ve relied on the kindness of engineers and their knowledge in the studio and equipment my whole life. These people know everything I don’t know but they put their technical expertise at the service of the music - at the service of the song. I am indebted to them and I’m indebted to you all who make the gear.”

Along with Browne, the four of the “Knights of Soft Rock,” The Section, were inducted into the TEC Hall of Fame: Danny Kortchmar (guitar), Craig Doerge (keyboards), Leland Sklar (bass) and Russ Kunkel (drums). Comedian and occasional musician Demetri Martin served as host and offered numerous humorous quips throughout the evening.


Future Forecast

Looking ahead, The Summer NAMM Show will return to Nashville’s Music City Center June 28-30. Later in the year, NAMM Musikmesse Russia will return to Moscow September 13-16, and Prolight + Sound Russia will commence September 13-15. In 2019, The NAMM Show returns to Anaheim January 24-27, 2019.


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