Summer NAMM Prepares To ‘Take It To The Top’

By Dan Ferrisi

‘So…what will you be doing this July? Regarded as the height of the summer, this is the perfect time of year to lounge on a sandy beach, listening to the waves roll in; take in a baseball game while downing hot dogs and beer; or take that long-put-off family vacation. But don’t forget the most important thing of all: The height of summer is also your chance to “take it to the top” at the Summer NAMM show, being held in Nashville TN from July 12 to 14. Six months removed from a hugely successful Winter NAMM in Anaheim that broke records and infused enthusiasm into our industry, the summer show is your chance to capitalize on that momentum, keep it building and set your business on a trajectory for success moving into the fall and all-important holiday selling season.

The Retailer recently spoke to Joe Lamond, President/CEO, NAMM to get the latest on the summer show, including why those who might be vacillating on whether to go must make this investment in their business’ future. Asked during a mid-April interview how many exhibitors NAMM expects this year in Nashville, Lamond responded, “We are expecting around 400 companies representing many more brands to preview products at the Summer NAMM show.” He added, “The exhibit hall is currently up a little over last year and on track to reach the goals that we have set.” Next year, Summer NAMM will be staged at the brand new, larger “Music City Center” to accommodate any increases in demand. As much as everybody is eagerly anticipating this year’s summer show, interest is certainly piqued for what 2013 will have in store.

Asked how many registrants NAMM is expecting for the Nashville show this year, Lamond indicated that, at the time of our conversation, it was really too early to tell, although he added, “We are seeing some momentum through the early registration.” Lamond continued, “The show is likely to be somewhat similar to last year in size. Members are coming out of the recession with the rest of the country, and are now looking for ways to set up their businesses for future success.” These facts, Lamond stated, taken together, lead NAMM to be optimistic about this year’s event. Geography also plays a role, of course, and the 2,000-mile separation of the winter and summer shows inevitably means that some retailers can only make it to a single show a year; for those retailers based in the Deep South or on the East Coast, having a NAMM exhibition in their own backyard is invaluable.

One particularly appealing thing about Summer NAMM is that, absent the throngs of almost 100,000 people and exhibitor numbers reaching nearly 1,500—as characterizes the annual Anaheim extravaganza—smaller companies receive a prominent platform to make their product innovations known and grab music products retailers’ attention. According to Lamond, “New products add vibrancy to the show floor and, in turn, to retail. Adding new products allows for retailers to differentiate themselves from the competition.” He added, “The Summer NAMM show is a great platform for smaller brands to make a big impression on the industry.” And, speaking anecdotally, this writer can attest to the fact that retailers who attend the summer show take note of who is there and who is not…who has invested in being there to meet with them and who has not. The opportunity, thus, is prime not only for newer companies but also for established ones.

Apart from offering the opportunity to check out cool new products and meet with company executives on the show floor, Summer NAMM 2012 also has a number of networking and educational events on tap, ensuring that attendees have a well-rounded experience that gives them all the tools they’ll need to succeed in the months ahead. The first ever Retail Boot Camp will take place July 11, the Wednesday before the show opens. NAMM’s Retail Boot Camp, which is complimentary for NAMM and Independent Music Store Owners (iMSO) members and their staffs, provides seven hours of intensive sales and marketing training. “Members will come out of boot camp with the confidence of knowing exactly where to spend money, a draft of a 2012/2013 marketing plan, the tools to quickly set up a loyalty program and a written action-items list that will keep retailers focused on building even more successful businesses,” Lamond declared.

In an offering that is quite similar to the hugely popular programs presented in Anaheim in January, NAMM U will host breakfast sessions every morning in Nashville before the show floor opens; they will feature industry insiders who will share thoughts, ideas and strategies for doing business in today’s aggressive marketplace. There will also be Idea Center sessions, which are short, focused “How to” sessions that take place every 30 minutes on the show floor. “They are designed,” explained Lamond, “to help you explore some best business practices without taking too much time away from your business at the show.”

The Top 100 Dealer Awards, which, last year, was an unqualified success, returns once again. A celebration of the best NAMM retailers across the country at Summer NAMM, it is scheduled for Friday, July 13, and should draw one of the largest crowds of the entire three-day gathering. The awards recognize best practices and reward the most effective campaigns. And, although these awards are comparatively young, it has already been said that, among music products retailers, they are akin to getting an Oscar. Following the awards, Muriel Anderson’s All-Star Guitar Night will cap what is sure to be a memorable evening.

Nashville is, of course, full of musicians, as well as lighting and sound techs, plus a very musically inclined population. By opening up the last day of Summer NAMM to the public, the industry can also reach talented non-retail or manufacturer members of the music world. “On Saturday at Summer NAMM,” Lamond began, “musicians and enthusiasts from the public will have a chance to preview the latest gear—eventually inspiring more traffic at retail—and attend sessions and demos specifically created to enhance the business at the grassroots of the music industry. There will be demos for the public to learn to play new instruments, as well as to learn new techniques and about new technology.” He concluded, “By hosting NAMM in Nashville, the industry has a unique opportunity to share the joy of making music with a wider, yet very musically inclined, audience.”

We have already referenced “take it to the top,” which is the tagline of this year’s Summer NAMM. We asked Lamond what that phrase means to him, to which he responded, “The business landscape is changing quickly, and the music products industry is no exception. The businesses that stay on top of the rapid changes will increase their chance of not only succeeding, but also capitalizing on the changes.” He continued, “At the summer show, NAMM will provide the first Retail Boot Camp designed specifically for the music industry, NAMM U breakfast sessions, an Idea Center with quick ‘how to’ sessions throughout the show and more opportunities for business owners to learn how best to position themselves for success.” (Sounds like taking it to the top to me!)

So why, then—apart, of course, from everything we have just explained—is this year’s Summer NAMM show one that simply cannot be missed? “Summer NAMM sets the stage for great business; it has a more relaxed pace, while still keeping the fast-paced momentum going from the NAMM show,” Lamond answered. “Members of the industry can focus on top-notch business by connecting with other dedicated industry professionals, celebrating retail success stories and sharing information on best practices.”

The Retailer, as always, will be there, and we hope to see every music products retailer who is reading these words out in Music City.

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