NAMM Maintains Summer Show’s Multiple-Year Growth Trajectory

All of us have our preferred metaphor for the Summer NAMM show. Joe Lamond, President and CEO of NAMM, has called it a “family reunion,” by which he means that those from all segments, corners and divisions of the music products community commune with one another while in Music City. My own preferred metaphor is that of a bridge, which links the midwinter NAMM Show with back-to-school season for band and orchestra instrument rentals and the end-of-year holidays, during which retailers earn a huge percentage of their yearly profits. To the extent that industry trade shows provide a glimpse at the latest products soon to hit shelves, exposure to innovative ideas shared during education sessions and insight into broad industry trends that affect all of us, it’s simply not possible for once-yearly show attendance to adequately prepare a retailer for decisions many months afterward. It’s why I consider Summer NAMM essential.

480078312It would seem that I’m not alone in that assessment, either, because this year’s Summer NAMM was broadly successful, exhibiting robust growth and engendering among attendees feelings of optimism and enthusiasm. The show, held July 9 to 11 at the beautiful Music City Center, continued its post-recession trajectory, seeing another increase in exhibiting companies and delivering the largest mid-year event since 2006. By the time attendees streamed in on opening day, 494 exhibiting companies, which represented more than 1,600 brands, were ready to welcome them and do business. The number of attending buyers increased another three percent over 2014, which saw eight-percent growth over 2013. Perhaps most significant of all was the increase in the number of buying firms, which was up 26 percent and contributed to the strong buying power and diversity that exhibitors seek. Summer NAMM attracted nearly 14,000 registrants in total, marking a 13-percent increase over last year.

“With a tremendous respect for our industry’s handcrafted traditions, along with an exciting look to the future of music and audio, this Summer NAMM was perhaps the most important (and the most fun!) in recent memory,” Lamond enthused. “The NAMM team was grateful for the opportunity to serve, and we hope that this event helped our members prepare for a successful fall and holiday selling season.”


TEC Tracks sessions at Summer NAMM were continuously packed with engaged attendees.

Any trade exhibition in the music products industry is guaranteed to boast a show floor teeming with glittering goodies, and any show that NAMM organizes is certain to have an education component that’s not only impressive in its scope but also laudable for its specificity relative to retailers’ real-world needs and challenges. In both of those respects, Summer NAMM absolutely delivered. The show floor was larger than at any time in recent memory—having incorporated a significant 23-percent uptick in music technology companies—and the NAMM U sessions I attended were packed nearly to capacity with a thoroughly engaged audience. What was least predictable, and most gratifying, was the strength of the show’s socialization and networking component.

Insight 3.0, held opening night on July 8, has become a beloved tradition, bringing together country music icon Vince Gill and Tom Bedell, Founder of Two Old Hippies, to deliver musical performances and insider stories on music making. Nashville’s Tim Akers & The Smoking Section, a band that features some of the best session musicians in Nashville, kept the crowd rocking well into the night. Then, on July 10, a broad swath of showgoers gathered to celebrate the world’s best music products retailers at NAMM’s Top 100 Dealer Awards. With CMT’s Cody Alan serving as emcee, NAMM honored seven retailers in “Best Of” categories in addition to crowning the 2015 Dealer of the Year.

The Top 100 winners in the individual categories are as follows: Best Store Design: Vintage King Audio (Ferndale MI); Best Marketing and Sales Promotion: Monster Music (Levittown NY); Best Customer Service: Musical Innovations (Greenville SC); Best Online Engagement: Sam Ash Music (Hicksville NY); Music Makes a Difference Award: Arthur’s Music Store (Indianapolis IN); Best Emerging Dealer: Spicer’s Music (Auburn AL); and Best Store Turnaround: ABC Music Store & Academy (Benicia CA). The highest honor, Dealer of the Year, went to the richly deserving Musical Innovations (Greenville SC). Musical Innovations’ Owner, Tracy Leenman, accepted the award, saying, “Like all dealers, we have ups and downs, and I sometimes get discouraged, but we’re growing and very thankful.” She added, “All of the credit for this award goes to my staff; they are truly amazing people. We’re just rockin’ and rollin’!”


NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond.

The NAMM executive committee enjoyed a seamless succession during the show, welcoming Joel Menchey (Menchey Music Service) and honoring the outgoing Chairman, Larry Morton (Hal Leonard). The changing of the guard began on July 11 during the annual summer board meeting. Mark Goff (W.H. Paige & Co., Inc.), previously NAMM’s Vice Chair, has moved into a new role as Chairman of NAMM’s Board of Directors. Menchey joined the executive committee as Secretary. Also stepping into new positions within the executive committee were Robin Walenta (West Music Co.), who serves as NAMM’s Vice Chair and Chris Martin (C.F. Martin & Co.), who is now the Treasurer. Larry Morton’s two-year term in leadership saw a period of membership growth and record-breaking NAMM expositions.

Everyone having returned home from Summer NAMM enthusiastic about the experience and excited about our prospects for a bright future, it’s now incumbent on all of us to live up to the potential that was so clearly in evidence in Nashville. Let’s make it happen.

No more articles