The Hang

First Published In The Music & Sound Retailer’s June 2007 Issue.

Haven’t been to Summer NAMM lately? Find out why this year is the best time to go.

Are you on the fence about if you should attend Summer NAMM in Austin, Texas, from July 27 to 29? Well, to start, there are three facts that are probably indisputable about the show. 1. You have the opportunity for more face-to-face time with suppliers than at Winter NAMM. 2. The active nightlife. 3. The bats.

If that’s not enough, you’ll see different wrinkles at this year’s show. “First of all, buyers will get the chance to see some new exhibits—more than 80 new companies—and that means [you’ll] be able to see some cool new products not shown in Anaheim or last year in Austin,” said Scott Robertson, NAMM’s director of marketing & communications. “Another new feature is NAMM’s first-ever exhibitor-to-dealer product training sessions, which allow buyers to get the new product knowledge they need for themselves and their staff. We’re hoping this idea catches on and this show can serve as a hub for this type of critical product training in the future. Finally, this year ‘The Hang’ stage will host a very special concert event on Saturday—one of the regional semi-finals for the Fortune Battle of the Corporate Bands competition. This is where the best of the “Weekend Warrior” type bands from America’s largest corporations battle for bragging rights and a ‘rock star’ trip to the 2008 NAMM Show. It should be quite an event for these very influential recreational music makers and a treat for the audience as well.”

Speaking of The Hang, you can attend NAMM’s party there on July 26 at 7 p.m. The event is good for networking purposes and oh yes, the free beer and food. “NAMM’s Pre-Show Party at The Hang is unique because where else but the music products industry could you assemble ‘Weekend Warrior’ jam/cover bands made up of show attendees and exhibitors and produce the type of energetic, live performances that we see year after year?” asked Robertson. “That party shows how much this industry believes in music and it’s our honor to host it again this year.”

Another reason to go to Summer NAMM: the morning NAMM University Breakfast Sessions. Don’t believe it? Well, the proof is in the numbers, with Robertson reporting attendance at these sessions doubling in the last couple of years. “The morning sessions serve a free hot breakfast, which helps attendees find an extra hour of time in an already busy day,” he said. “They also feature good music followed by some fantastic presentations that you can only experience at a NAMM trade show. This year, NAMM President and CEO, Joe Lamond, will interview another panel of industry icons in an in-depth discussion about the current state of the music products industry. On Saturday, NAMM will again host its popular Town Hall meeting, which this year will focus on the best practices/ideas that are working for retailers and suppliers across the country. We’ve heard these sessions contain real take-home value for attendees and given this period of industry change, it’s not a time to settle for business as usual.”

Of course, you could always attend NAMM to get away from things for three days. “The saying that sometimes it’s better to work on your business than in your business has never been more true in this current period of change,” said Lamond.

Another factor we failed to mention is the City of Austin itself. Many attendees last year said they were more welcome in the city compared to Indianapolis in 2005.

“The perception of last year’s show from our members who attended was that Austin is a great city with all the right elements for this show,” said Kevin Johnstone, NAMM’s director of trade shows. “As always, we will look to our members for guidance regarding future decisions about Summer NAMM.

“The friendliness you saw last year is more evidence the City of Austin just ‘gets’ NAMM,” he added. “Its enthusiasm for this show is really something you can feel in the warm smiles of hotel and restaurant employees to the many musicians performing nightly in all of the clubs. Every television and radio station and media outlet in town did multiple stories about Summer NAMM last year, more than we’ve ever seen in any market. But again, the most important thing to us is that Austin works hard to make our members feel like royalty while they are in town. You can expect the red-carpet treatment again this year.”

But Can it Rival Winter NAMM?

The answer is “no.” In fact, it’s not intended to. But not everything in Austin is a slam dunk. The temperature can be sweltering at times and complaints about a lack of simplified travel still exist. There was a time not long ago when getting to Austin was perhaps its greatest challenge. But according to NAMM, that aspect has improved dramatically. “Austin has direct flights from 46 destinations in the U.S.,” said Johnstone. “And it’s a short hop from Dallas/Forth Worth, one of the largest airports in the country with hundreds of direct flights. We know our members’ time and financial resources are limited and valuable, and that’s why NAMM is striving to do everything we can to make the trip to Austin provide a good return on that investment.”

Then, of course, there’s the attendance factor. If you spend a lot of money to attend the show and some of your most important manufacturers don’t exhibit, it can be a drag. But we do need to consider 2006 was the first year in Austin and it takes time for a trade show to become a “must-attend” event. Nashville didn’t bring the house down in its first year either. More importantly, interest in Summer NAMM is still high, said Lamond. “It’s too difficult to predict at this point what attendance will be like at this show,” he said. “[But] as long as there are NAMM members who want a summer gathering to help position their businesses for success in the second half of the year, NAMM will provide the venue. For us, it’s a service decision, not a financial one.

Everyone Enjoys a Party
We mentioned the nightlife before. Other than NAMM-hosted parties, nighttime activities include the Sixth Street scene, which is loaded with live music, or Austin’s Warehouse District, where the jazz, soul, reggae, and funk clubs are located.

But let’s say the bar/club scene is not for you. You want to take advantage of some family activities like Anaheim offers. “One unique attraction of Austin as the sun sets is the flying of more than one million fruit bats living under the Congress Avenue Bridge,” said Robertson. “It’s really something to see. The Austin Children’s Museum, a hands-on interactive museum, is at 201 Colorado Street. Other suggestions for kids are the Austin Nature & Science Center in Zilker Park, the Zilker Zephyr (a miniature train ride that runs through Zilker Park) and the interactive exhibits at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. For a complete listing, visit or and click on our online city map.”That leads us to one final question. With much discussion about Summer NAMM during the past few years, you might have advice for how to improve the show. How do you contact NAMM to provide your feedback? We asked Lamond for the answer. “We are always looking for ways to improve our service to NAMM members,” he said. “This show is a large undertaking and another service and membership benefit we provide, so if there is anything we can do to make it better, send us an e-mail at or call 800-767-NAMM. Thanks to the Music and Sound Retailer for the opportunity to talk about Summer NAMM, and we look forward to another good show in the ‘Live Music Capital of the World!’”

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