Winter NAMM is about to get even bigger. That’s saying something, as the show, taking place again in Anaheim, Calif., from Jan. 25 to Jan. 28, was named one of the top U.S. tradeshows by BizBash, earlier this year, based on attendance and experience.

To be more exact, it will be 200,000 square feet bigger than last year, primarily based upon the opening of Anaheim Convention Center North (ACC North), which officially opened on Sept. 26. The expansion gives NAMM the ability to develop a full-scale pro-audio platform and community that will attract buyers from around the world, particularly those who like the convenience of engaging with multiple product communities at one show. Pro audio will now be represented across the entire NAMM Show Campus, from Yamaha Commercial Audio at the Marriott to the ACC Halls A & B, as well as levels two and three, the arena, the Hilton, and now the ACC North levels one and two.

“[The NAMM Show] is the catalyst that excites the industry. It gets dealers fired up and educated for the year ahead. It’s the mix of all those people together. It’s more than the sum of its parts. That’s the secret sauce.”

— Joe Lamond, president and CEO.

Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM, told the Music & Sound Retailer that an expansion was overdue and will be a great addition for those in attendance, a number that reached a record 106,928 registrants in 2017. That record could be broken again in January. “The reality is, the halls were virtually the same since 2001. That’s the last time there was an expansion,” he said. “It’s been awhile. It’s been needed, as we have been pretty packed to the gills. It allows us to accommodate growth and also reconfigure a bit. We’ve heard a lot about remodeling stores. We’ve learned a lot in the last 17 [Winter NAMM] Shows regarding how the industry is changing and how we can better reflect the needs of dealers trying to do business at the show. Lamond continued, “The new hall is spread out a bit. We organized some of the industry categories to make it more efficient.”

NAMM’s president and CEO also stressed he believes the show floor will be quieter than in past years. “We are trying to hit one of the biggest issues people have brought up to us about it being too loud. We make some products that are really loud [in this industry],” he acknowledged. “We are segmenting product segments a little more, and even using materials for signage that is sound baffling. Spreading things out more will make it more business friendly on the floor and bring the volume down a little bit.”

Expect retailers to have a more productive time on the show floor compared to past years, Lamond added.

As for opportunities for retailers to expand their businesses, he pointed to impressive growth in pro audio, lighting and event technology. “We’ve all seen what happens with products that can be commoditized,” stated Lamond. “That’s not helping independent retailers in a lot of ways. But what they can look at it is as an expansion of their businesses by getting more involved in events. Many already do and are very successful. Having more of those products on the [show] floor can be a great help. Being involved in events, rentals, sounds and lights, whether it is concerts, meetings or houses of worship, can be a great place for retailers. Independent dealers can be an expert in that space. The expansion we have in 2018 will really help dealers capitalize and grow in that market. It’s a positive thing for retailers to get involved with.”

Talking About My Education

Always going hand-in-hand with visiting NAMM Show booths, and one of the main reasons MI retailers attend the show, is the educational component. Lamond stated Zach Phillips, NAMM’s director of professional development, has put together a great NAMM University lineup. At Summer NAMM, Breakfast Session speakers spoke on how a retailer should focus on making their store an experience, as opposed to simply selling MI products. What will be the main theme at next month’s show?

“Risk will be a main component of the Breakfast Sessions,” responded Lamond. “Where does risk come into play, especially in an environment that’s changing as fast as ours? What is the role of risk? How can our industry take more calculated risk? Are we taking enough risk as an industry? Today, it seems like to get something, you have to bet something.”

Switching gears to before the show starts, on Jan. 24, NAMM will host its Retail Boot Camp, another outstanding educational source for retailers. “The all-day sessions on Wednesday will be an immersive, how to be a better retailer [training session], which will cover sales, finance and management,” Lamond noted.

The NAMM U and Retail Boot Camp will certainly not be the only source of education at the NAMM Show, however. In fact, NAMM has tripled its educational output via the addition of the AES Conference at NAMM and ESTA (Entertainment Science and Technology Association) education and training, which will cover several topics, such as lighting, staging, rigging and all other aspects of event production. NAMM members can take advantage of all three of these educational resources.

“The tricky part will be getting the app and scheduling your time way in advance to make sure you can fit it all in. The NAMM Show is one place you can get so much done from an educational standpoint. We think it’s one of the most important reasons people would leave their store, get in the car, get on a train or get on an airplane, and make the trip to Anaheim,” Lamond said. “I can’t overstress the importance of education, especially at a time like now. Everything is changing. Rules are being rewritten. People are making bets on future technologies and the future direction. To do that, you need to make calculated bets.”

Talking About the Next Generation

Another NAMM Show focus will be the next generation of MI retailers. As the Retailer mentioned in its October editorial (October issue, page 6), the next generation is a topic that retailers have mentioned as an industry concern on multiple occasions. Lamond provided assurance NAMM will be zeroed in on this topic at the show next month. Approximately 3,000 music business students will be in Anaheim, he said. “They are eager to figure out where they fit in,” stated Lamond. “Some will go work for existing companies when they graduate. We’re hoping to encourage many of them to start their own businesses. I call this the gathering of the tribes. New, young, excited people. More than 90 of them will be on NAMM scholarships that will be coming to the show. We have a process of essays and applications where we try to pick applicants likely to be future stars. Music educators will be another crucial component of those attending the show.”

In all, the four-day NAMM Show represents the “crossroads of the global music industry,” asserted Lamond. “I think that’s the spark,” he said. “It’s the catalyst that excites the industry. It gets dealers fired up and educated for the year ahead. It’s the mix of all those people together. It’s more than the sum of its parts. That’s the secret sauce of the NAMM Show.”

All of these people, more than 100,000 strong, can of course expect huge entertainment events once again, as well. Lamond hinted a great event is set to take place Jan. 26.

Safe and Sound

Lamond marveled at how well the NAMM staff has done in producing a successful show. “Our industry is good at doing productions,” he said. “Our goal is to be that stable, reliable and, in many ways, predictable platform. You can count on it every year. Our members are coming up with great new products. Dealers are taking a risk with the expense of coming to the show and getting something out of it. We make sure the retailers know that in the end of January they will be in Anaheim. They will see the people they’re going to see. They will see great products. They will have education they can’t get anywhere else. They will also reignite the camaraderie and see their friends. They will celebrate the career path they’ve chosen and feel good about the path they’ve chosen. Music brings a lot of good things to the world.”

It’s a large responsibility for NAMM to convene more than 100,000 people. “We need to make sure they are fed, entertained and educated, as well as kept safe,” Lamond said. “It’s an exciting production. To gear up for the show is really exciting.”

He added that recent tragedies have changed all of the rules of event planning, and assured attendees that NAMM has implemented all best practices in terms of security. “Our goal at NAMM is to be behind the scenes, so that our members have a seamless experience. Our goal is to make it so seamless that everyone has fun and gets everything done without even knowing we’re behind the scenes.”

Lamond concluded by reflecting on what he personally loves the most about the trade show. “We have a small team here [at NAMM]. To me, one of the most exciting things is to see them shine. The team here just gets it done. It’s amazing to see, and I get a lot of personal joy out of that. We have several people who are just starting their careers and are in pivotal roles. They come in to the show wide-eyed, and by Sunday night they look like Moses coming down the hill with tablets,” he joked. “After the show, I can see the change, and they are wiser and
better employees.”

“It’s also a family reunion,” Lamond continued. “Seeing so many people is a highlight. And then there is the tribute. Thursday night, we honor those who have passed. At the end of the day, it’s all about people. To have that tribute where we take a moment, pause, collect with the families and celebrate the lives of those who have passed is very important to me. The highlight to me is always the people.”

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