|Does the awful economy have you feeling blue? If so, it’s fair to say you’re not alone. The ultimate escape, or voyage—if you will—is next month’s NAMM Show. Every NAMM Show is filled with excitement, celebrities, education, camaraderie, and for many, fun. Many of us don’t need excuses to relax and let loose a little every year. But this year, the cathartic needs are higher.
Yes, NAMM is incredibly important for business purposes of course. Many buying decisions are made at the show. And for several industry groups and organizations, vital annual meetings will take place.
But even if you have no buying decisions to make, are not interested in celebrity concerts, and have no intention to go to Disneyland, there’s another big reason to go to Anaheim next month. As Billy Joel so eloquently sang in his first hit “Piano Man,” “To forget about life for awhile.”
It’s a time to forget about the stock market, forget about the massive layoffs taking place out there. It’s a time to forget about everything except music.
But since you’re not at the show yet, we asked Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM, if the economy is having an affect on next month’s show. Here are his thoughts: “The economic headlines are painting a pretty bleak picture and we are all concerned about the holiday shopping season. We did some historical research on this subject and found that over the last four recessions in the United States, the NAMM Show showed surprising resiliency and had very little change due to the economy. Many members tell us that difficult economic times only increase the need to come together as an industry. So far, pre-registration is tracking well with last year.”
We followed up by asking Lamond if the number of new company launches will dwindle due to the recession. “It is interesting how many new companies come to the NAMM Show each year isn’t it? I think most of these entrepreneurs understand that in times of great change come great opportunities. Buyers who come to Anaheim this January will get the first look at the new products that everyone will be talking about, and that customers will want to see when they visit NAMM member stores. That we can guarantee!”
Expect Lamond’s popular State of the Industry Address to once again fill the Anaheim Hilton ballroom and focus on the economy, as well as several of the NAMM University sessions. Said Lamond: “In difficult economic times, people really want to connect more, learn more and work on their businesses more. Our Breakfast Sessions will once again provide a great environment for all of that, plus a free hot breakfast every day. (If you bring a couple of staffers, you can get back your NAMM dues with just that!) We’ll have some surprises as usual and we’ll be looking at tough industry issues and hearing about how the retailers, manufacturers, reps and distributors are approaching the coming year.”
Not all NAMM University sessions will focus on the economy however. Here are some other things you can expect to learn about. “How retailers and manufacturers communicate and build relationship with consumers is changing rapidly, so you’ll see a lot of focus on Internet/Web and e-commerce,” said Scott Robertson, NAMM’s director of marketing and communications. “Also, there’s something to be said for just hitting the fundamentals like good selling techniques, smart financial management and business operations, so NAMM U will offer good, focused sessions about these and other topics. For a complete listing, please visit namm.org regularly.”
Let’s Talk About
OK, we promise, no more economic talk in this story. Let’s first focus on what changes you can expect to see on the show floor this year. We got the scoop from Kevin Johnstone, NAMM’s director of trade shows. “Well, if we do our job right, you probably won’t notice any [changes] except that your show experience will just be better. We work on hundreds of the little things that make a big difference like customer service, our new online floor plan and exhibitor map on our Web site, as well as continuing our work to maintain the business atmosphere of the show while keeping that cool vibe the NAMM Show is known for. A few operational changes, we’re moving the Badge Registration area up to Level 2 to make more room for Hall E exhibitors and Level 3 will now feature some larger exhibitors in demo rooms. We’re also prohibiting non-industry attendees in yellow visitor badges under the age of 16 from the show floor and stopping all yellow badges from bringing rolling suitcases onto the show floor because they can be dangerous to public safety in crowded conditions.”
According to Robertson, there will be so many special events at NAMM next month that it would take a lot of space to print. In addition to tons of exhibitor parties, some highlights include the Petiot All-Industry Marching Band, NAMM Lobby Jam, the Tribute to Industry Leaders, Drum Circle, and Music Education Day. Robertson suggests that you check out your January PLAYback supplement to learn much more. You can also check this magazine and our VNewsletter at www.msretailer.com/vnewsletter for event info.
Clean of Non-Industry Teens
We saved the final topic for last: eliminating non-industry people under 16 from attending the show except for a couple of exceptions, including being an endorser. Why did NAMM decide to take this step? “NAMM is committed to providing a strong marketplace for retailers and suppliers. Because playing music is so popular, the show attracts a lot of non-industry visitors, particularly under the age of 16 who don’t have a strong business reason to be there,” said Johnstone. “So in the interest of our members both exhibitors and retailers who are concerned about the crowds, the noise and overall congestion (according to what they’ve told us in post-show surveys and ongoing communication), we’re going to prohibit these non-industry under 16 visitors from the show. NAMM is an industry made up of family businesses and we don’t want to prohibit all visitors under 16 like some shows, including CES. But we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t respond to this situation on behalf of the NAMM Show attendees who just want to be able to walk through the show aisles and do their business…without a big headache at the end of the day.”
Although it was six months ago, many seemed enthusiastic about Nashville and that could bring even more enthusiasm to next month’s NAMM Show, which drew a record 88,000 people last year. Said Lamond: “Yes, the reviews from Nashville were extremely positive and we’re grateful to our members who supported it. We’re hearing from our members that the Summer Show serves a very different purpose in their annual marketing schedule and we’re committed to offering this service for those who need and want it. However, the winter show is ‘the world’s show,’ and that is where the global industry comes together to do business. We’re honored to provide this service to our members and even more grateful for the fact that the success of the NAMM Show provides revenue that is plowed back into the industry with PR campaigns, government lobbying, grants and dozens of music making programs all aimed at growing the market for everyone. This is the true work of NAMM.”
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