January 27, 2016

NAMM 2016—Trade shows aren’t dead

NAMM 2016--Trade shows aren’t dead

This is not about the new shiny I liked at the 2016 NAMM show. For that, see my post on my Ember After page. This is more my impressions of the show.

I had long heard, read, and believed that trade shows, at least for tech companies, were on the way out. They were a fossil of the era when the only ways that companies could demonstrate products were to gather in one place, and the Internet had rendered them all obsolete. So imagine my surprise that NAMM 2016 was the single largest NAMM ever. From the organizers, this was the first one to ever sell out of every single booth space. There were some 100,000 expected visitors. Parking was a mess beyond believe, with shuttles running to overflow parking in baseball and hockey stadiums in the city.

There weren’t just lots of new products, but a real sense of optimism. From huge companies to tiny one-person operations, there was a sense that people were not just interested, but putting their money where their mouths were. It made for a crowded NAMM, but it made for a great vibe.

And if you were a smaller company, the fact that there were more bloggers and media videographers than ever running around, asking for demos, taking pictures, writing stories, meant that it really was “the place to be” as far as getting attention went. The “NAMM bump” is not only still in effect, but it seemed bigger than ever. I heard from many smaller exhibitors that they got more orders for the year than they planned, sold out everything at their booth to dealers, and other tales of not simply enjoying the show or having people like what they saw, but having NAMM 2016 be a very positive economic trade show for them. I was extremely glad to hear this from so many of the boutique and smaller software companies and instrument manufacturers I’m privileged to know.

And speaking of whom I know (no, I’m not going to name drop) I always love meeting with musicians, friends, developers, and company reps that I only see at these shows. That’s always been the case, and that’s still in effect. I love the people that I work with and that makes these things enjoyable, even as my throat wore out from meetings and talking and my legs got sore and stiff from being on my feet for three days.

One new experience I had this NAMM was Groove3’s main partner, Hal Leonard, graciously invited us to the 31st annual TEC Awards, which are pro audio industry awards given by gear hounds, to gear hounds. Basically, the technical wizards and engineers wanted an excuse to have a fancy award show in the big ballroom of the Hilton, and so they make one every NAMM. I can’t say that I walked in with any real interest in who one what. But you know what? The food was great. The host comedian, Sinbad, is a home studio musician himself so he could talk about the gear from a position of understanding, and was edgy and pointed in his barbs. The band was really top notch. And Groove3 and Hal Leonard had a lot of fun laughing it up. So thanks to Hal Leonard for the invite, and a novel way for me to end my NAMM 2016 experience!