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By Jake Klein
With supplemental editing by Judy Thorburn and Dianne R. Davis
Photos by Jake Klein unless otherwise noted

Music Industry Professionals Gather at NAMM Trade Show

Las Vegas is recognized as the entertainment capital the world.  But, when it comes to music, for four days a year approximately 90,000 music industry professionals including product manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, musicians, record company execs, and Vegas entertainment industry pros, gather in southern California at NAMM, one of the two largest music product trade shows in the world. 

View of the front and from the convention center looking out into the main square
View of the front and from the convention center looking out into the main square

The world needs music, and The NAMM Show, held every January in Anaheim, California, promotes the pleasures and benefits of making music.

It is not surprising that the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) event celebrated its 115th show from January 21-24, 2016 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

a view from one of the balacanies at the NAMM 2016 show
A view from one of the balcony's at the NAMM 2016 show

The not-for-profit NAMM foundation, which is funded by NAMM members through trade association activities and private donations, strengthens the $17 billion global music products industry.
The show consists of four floor levels, the arena, and several surrounding hotel banquet rooms. Each floor is almost the size of a football field and each floor has its own vibe and level of success - its own customer base.

So what can you do and see at this show and why should you go?

In the blocks surrounding the convention center I saw hundreds of people converging on this great event. The attendees at NAMM are from all walks of life from corporate suits to hipsters to rockers and then some. Just outside the front of the Convention Center the street that leads up to it is transformed into a huge concert stage, with several famous food trucks, and a large fountain as well as benches and places to sit, eat, talk, laugh and network.

There were Exhibitor Booth events including educational seminars on products and their use and “meet and greets” of famous musicians and personalities greeting fans.

Main Stage for NAMM 2016
Main Stage for NAMM 2016

There were blog lounges, a NAMM show shop, and a large NAMM conference learning seminar center which featured key note speakers in the industry and product education classes. Many of those attending wore headsets to hear the seminars clearly while blocking out the thousands of people walking by and talking throughout the day.

Row after row of incredible booths - from shiny instruments and cymbals to the most incredible handmade instruments line the corridors of NAMM. Not only are you able to view and get a hands on feel for the hottest new products, but you have a chance to meet one on one with the manufacturers of those products.

Beautiful Drumsets
Beautiful Drumsets

Beautiful Violins from Classical Strings
Beautiful Violins from Classical Strings

Cymbals of all sizes
Cymbals of all sizes

Family of custom Guitar Strap Makers
Family of custom Guitar Strap Makers

Hand hammered cymbals
Hand hammered cymbals

Hand made Tubas
Hand made Tubas

 

As you walk slowly taking in all these visual sights, you begin to hear sounds that make emotions start to stir inside you. As I was walked by a banjo booth, I stopped to listen to two old time folk/blues players picking and singing, which took me back to a simpler time with simpler fun music. In many booths, well known famous musicians or DJ’s, play on that manufacturer’s instruments or products as an endorsement.

Some of the celebs spotted endorsing their favorite brands were musician Dr. John, who was on the main stage playing for the NAMM foundation and the Lennon Foundation, legendary drummer Nicko McBrain, from the band Iron Maiden, who signed autographs and took photos with his fans in front of the SONOR booth, Metal Guitar God Kerry King, from the band Slayer, who signing autographs in the B.C. RICH GUITARS booth, and Robert Trujillo, bassist from the Metal Band Metallica, who was also signed autographs at the FRAMUS guitars booth.

Nicko McBrain signing autographs for SONOR drums
Nicko McBrain signing autographs for SONOR drums

Robert Trujillo endorsing and signing autographs at the framus booth at namm 2016
Robert Trujillo endorsing and signing autographs at the framus booth at NAMM 2016

Stack of Smarvo Amps at NAMM 2016
Stack of Smarvo Amps at NAMM 2016

The John Lennon Foundation bus and booth
The John Lennon Foundation bus and booth

Other attractions include musical instruments from around the world with every inventive and creative accessory, children’s musical education software, equipment insurance, Midi controllers, equipment shipping or carrying cases, disc jockey equipment for the beginner to the novice, and sound and lighting equipment that will fill a small bar to a stadium.

The key to fully experiencing the show is to not only see with your eyes, but to pick things up, touch them feel them, and talk to the people who created and worked hard on making them. Drink lots of water and bring some good shoes. On average, I walked 5 miles each day.

And last, there are the concerts. During the days and evenings of the NAMM show every hotel, bar, and club has some form of entertainment. Walk down any hall on any floor and you might notice musicians playing every type of music imaginable. You will enjoy every style of music, from local musicians, to those from around the world. If loud musician concerts or DJ’s is not your scene, NAMM has learning conferences and awards shows,and of course networking in every hallway, hotel lobby, restaurant and park bench for miles around. It is not surprising to find several musicians starting jam sessions with three or more people who don’t know each other. They just love music and jamming with other musicians.

Main Stage for NAMM 2016
Main Stage for NAMM 2016

The NAMM Show has become more than just a convention through the years and has concert and show events happening all over the city. Bands and artists perform not only in the surrounding hotel lobbies but also in bars and clubs throughout the area. NAMM provides a free app for both android and EOS phones so you can not only map out what you want to do and when to do it, but also where to eat, park, or find exactly what you’re looking for.

And for those of you who haven't attended this convention, or want more NAMM in your life, the NAMM Association has another show in Nashville, Tennessee in July, which focuses less on product and more on industry meetings and professional development.

 

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