Concert Reports


The NAMM Show


A New Decade, A Crossroads of Opportunity: The NAMM Show, The Global Platform for Innovation in Music Products, Pro Audio and Entertainment Technology Returns to Anaheim ! 


 All Photos: Ray Soto / Central Coast Rocks


With the start of the new decade, leaders, innovators, experts, and artists across music products, pro audio, and entertainment technology gathered at the "Crossroads" of the global industry, The 2020 NAMM Show. Held January 16-19, in Anaheim, California, the four days of the annual gathering saw professionals convene to launch and discover the next decade of business opportunities and celebrate music-making.


It was incredible to see NAMM Members and industry professionals from around the world come together in such a positive way to experience the launch of countless new products, attend the best industry education available anywhere and to enjoy the comradery and networking that makes our musical lives so meaningful,” commented Joe Lamond, NAMM President and CEO. “The NAMM Show campus served as a living, breathing snapshot of the current global marketplace and I truly believe that our attendees who made the commitment and investment to be there have increased their competitive advantage for success in the year ahead.”

The Convergence of The Crossroads


With business at the top of mind, the Show welcomed over 2,000 exhibiting member companies, representing 7,000 brands, across all areas of The NAMM Show campus. Of the 115,888 NAMM Member and invited registrants, international members accounted for nearly 20% percent growth over two years. Registrants were an invited mix of industry professionals from across the crossroads and included domestic and international retail and distribution buyers and employees, exhibitors, entertainment tech and pro audio buyers and professionals, media, artists, invited guests, and The NAMM Foundation GenNext (college music students and faculty), Music Education Days (school music administrators and buyers) and Nonprofit Institute (NAMM grantees and nonprofit affiliates) participants.


'The NAMM Show is the ultimate opportunity for industry professionals to come together to share their passion for music, build relationships, and learn from each other through the vast array of educational and networking opportunities that The NAMM Show has to offer," said Chair of the NAMM Board of Directors, Chris Martin of C.F. Martin. "It's a place where we hold each other up, cheer each other on, and strengthen the industry as a whole."


“The NAMM Show 2020 in Anaheim once more turned out to be the center hub for the global music industry,” shared Markus Theinert, Vice President of Marketing and International Sales for Conn-Selmer. “For us, as America’s largest manufacturer of band & orchestra instruments, it is important to connect with customers, suppliers, educators and artists from around the world to discuss future business opportunities as well as to stay in close touch with new product and sales trends in an ever changing world. Meeting the people is still important in our relationship industry and the NAMM show provides an ideal platform for that purpose.”



Insights, Ideas, and Strategies for the Next Decade


With the world's experts at The NAMM Show, members had the opportunity to connect with top thought leaders in best-in-class education through over 350 education sessions designed to engage, inform and inspire new ideas, as well as to further careers and prepare for the future against the backdrop of the industry gathering.


Each day of the Show began with a NAMM U Breakfast Session in the Pacific Ballroom, inside the Anaheim Hilton. On Thursday, January 16, NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond hosted "Breakfast of Champions" with a panel of industry leaders and innovators, including Bryan Bradley, Group One; Whitney Brown Gristaffi, Ted Brown Music; Noel Lee, Monster Cables; and David Schwartz, TEC Tracks offering their insight on the Crossroads and opportunities. Jason Mraz was presented with the Music for Life Award, an honor annually given to a musician or creative luminary whose body of work and artistry has inspired more people to make music. In his interview with Lamond, Mraz spoke of his early access to making music, with his mother having sat him at the piano and shaped his fingers to play chords, and later in school, how music teachers helped him develop his music-making abilities. "I was fortunate to have music education in my public school, and that's why I advocate so hard for it," Mraz said. "Knowing how much music shaped my life and gave me so many opportunities, I knew my career would include giving back."



Notable NAMM Moments


On Tuesday, January 14, a legion of music industry leaders gathered at Horace Mann Elementary School to help students learn to play melodica, ukulele, guitar, and drums, as well as engage in choral and movement sessions as part of the organization's Day of Service. Now in its sixth year, the day puts "advocacy into action" with support for the Anaheim Elementary School District and its efforts to provide music education to every child.


Each evening of the Show came alive on the Yamaha Grand Plaza stage with plenty of star power. At Thursday's NAMM Foundation Celebration for Music Education, internationally beloved prog-rockers Animals as Leaders packed the Grand Plaza; Friday's Yamaha All-Star Concert on the Grand featured the likes of Mr. Talkbox, Kenny Loggins and Earth, Wind & Fire, among others; and Saturday's Tower of Power 50th Anniversary Concert, which celebrated a half-century of inspiring musical achievement from dynamic soul/funk/R&B ensemble Tower of Power as they treated NAMM attendees to a retrospective of decades of groundbreaking music.


Also on Saturday, The Grand Rally for Music Education convened music education advocates for a celebration of the benefits and pleasures of music education. The morning celebration welcomed ten-time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin and Gimme5 for a special performance. McFerrin, who became a household name with his earworm hit, "Don't Worry, Be Happy," has a rich history as an instrumentalist and bandleader. "I try not to 'perform onstage," said McFerrin. "I try to sing the way I sing in my kitchen because I just can't help myself. I want audiences to leave the theatre and sing in their own kitchens the next morning. I want to bring audiences into the incredible feeling of joy and freedom I get when I sing." Along with McFerrin, the Grand Rally for Music Education also featured a preshow performance by The Langley Ukulele Ensemble and The Legacy Ukulele Ensemble and winners of the A Cappella at NAMM contest.


Other special performances included the Roomful of Pianos; a concept which saw pianists from around the country performing symphonic arrangements, jazz explorations, and clangorous delights for 30 players with the music of Frans Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, and Freddie Mercury/Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody; the IMSTA Songwriting Competition at NAMM (ISCAN) which gave college-level aspiring studio pros a chance to have their music heard and A Cappella at NAMM: the performance contest of three college- or university-level a cappella groups, as selected by professional vocalists Amy Engelhardt, India Carney, Jeff Smith, VJ Rosales, and Rob Dietz.



Honoring the Industry's Leaders and Luminaries


Friday evening welcomed the eighth annual She Rocks Awards at the House of Blues honoring women in the music industry. The event featured a star-studded performance lineup, including live music from honorees Gloria Gaynor, Lzzy Hale, Linda Perry, Suzi Quatro, Beatie Wolfe, and Tal Wilkenfeld, the evening's co-hosts, Mindi Abair and Lyndsey Parker, and opening act D_Drive, among others. Other honorees included Suzanne D'Addario Brouder, Executive Director of the D'Addario Foundation; Tara Low, Music-based entrepreneur and editor and founder of Guitar Girl Magazine; Myrna Sislen, Owner of Middle C Music in D.C.D.C., classical guitarist, philanthropist, music educator; Judy Schaefer, Marketing Director at PRS Guitars; and Ebonie Smith, Founder and President of Gender Amplified, Inc, and Atlantic Records audio engineer and producer.


Friday also saw the return of the Parnelli Awards to The NAMM Show. The Parnelli's recognize the pioneering, influential professionals and companies for their contributions to the live production industry. The event brought together the live entertainment community in a vibrant annual gathering to recognize the best-in-class across 22 different categories, with Karrie Keyes (Pearl Jam monitor engineer, Founder of Sound Girls) receiving the Parnelli Audio Innovator Award, Mark "Springo" Spring (Production Manager, Paul McCartney, and others) receiving the Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Honor; and Michael Strickland (Bandit Lites) the Visionary Award, which was presented by one of his first early clients, Garth Brooks. The top-selling country artist came to honor Strickland, who believed in Brooks when, as Strickland says, "he was a kid with a marketing degree and a couple of minor hits" — and huge ambitions. Brooks came to Bandit and said he wanted a lighting rig as big as KISS. The team at Bandit made it happen, raising the production bar for all country music.


Later in the week on Saturday, the 35th Annual 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. View the complete list of winners and nominees here.


At the TEC Awards, Joni Mitchell 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. Of the award, Michael Braunstein, Executive Director of the Les Paul Foundation, offered "Like Les, she has been a trailblazer and a true renaissance woman – a songwriter, musician, producer, and influencer who made her mark with very influential songs in the 60s. She has pushed the boundaries of what it means to be a female singer-songwriter over the course of her four-decade career, and like Les Paul, she's never been scared to take creative risks. We are thrilled that Joni Mitchell will join the list of extraordinary recipients that represent the spirit of the legendary Les Paul."


Mitchell was introduced by the legendary Herbie Hancock, who spoke fondly of their decades of friendship, creative collaboration, and impact: "it's hard to imagine a world without this courageous woman's brave songs and records."


The TEC Awards ceremony kicked off with a Don Wilson Tribute performance and a medley of Ventures tunes that warmed up the crowd before guitarist "Skunk" Baxter presented Wilson with a Music for Life Award, saying "You gave us a great gift that keeps on giving!" Billy Bob Thornton added a special video greeting calling his in-studio time with Wilson one of the "greatest honors of my life."




Looking Ahead


The industry reconvenes at Summer NAMM 2020, July 9-11, in Nashville, TN, and at The 2021 NAMM Show January 21-24 in Anaheim, California.


About NAMM


The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is the not-for-profit association with a mission to strengthen the $17 billion music products industry. NAMM is comprised of approximately 10,300 members located in 104 countries and regions. NAMM events and members fund The NAMM Foundation's efforts to promote the pleasures and benefits of music, and advance active participation in music making across the lifespan. For more information about NAMM, please visit, call 800.767.NAMM (6266) or follow the organization on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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