Music Climate Improving – NAMM 2011
January 15, 2011 - Anaheim, CA - This years NAMM show had several positive changes. The show featrured over 200 new exhibitors, they had a software technology pavillion for portable apps, and they moved the TEC awards from the AES show to NAMM.
The TEC awards are from the TEC foundation and recognize Technical Excellence and Creativity in audio. There are number of awards for hardware and software as well as music production and engineering. Green Day’s production crew took awards for top album and single prodution amongst the 25 technical awards presented. The major award of the evening was the Les Paul Award which this year was given to guitarist, producer, and composer Lindsey Buckingham.
In an interview with Dir of Marketing for NAMM Scott Robinson, Scott indicated that the show was up on many levels this year - exhibitors, attendance, mood and atmosphere and most importantly business. The show is a trade only event and is designed as a facilitator of business in the music ecosystem. He discussed how the past couple of year of economic downturn stalled a lot of the business, but this year deals were being made at the shows, and the buyers from the retail outlets were buying. One of the changes is the shift from small brick & mortar music shops to larger facilities (e.g. Guitar Center, Best Buy) and web based retailers. The NAMM show is where all things music exist in a central location - so specialty retailers and department retailers can best select thier inventories.
In a duscussion about technology and it inroads in to the music business, Scott mentioned there a a number of well attended technical education sessions at the show that are designed to not only raise familiarity with the existence of new technology in music, but show the retailers how to use the technology so they can educate and support the end customers.
On the topic of convergence of the NAMM Music marketplace and the encroachment of Consumer Electronics (CE) into the space - Scott opined that historicall (in the 1970's) NAMM and CES were a common show. However, they split came as NAMM chose to focus on all things music, and the CES environment expanded to white goods, automotive, computing, etc/ There is an overlap with a large portion of the CE products being related to music playback or creation – however they are isolated products in the CE world and NOT a cohesive “solution” space. NAMM provides a unique DNA from its members and business community - and that is related to love and propagation of music as both a societal need and an expressive art form, this cannot be conveyed through a single appliance. The NAMM show is embracing technology and will contintue to grow the influence of computers, electronics, tablets, and software into the business, however the focus is such that re-merging with the standard CE marketplace is not thier goal or direction.
The NAMM community is continuing to fight to keep music in the schools and help keep the programs funded. This is not a new battle and the support and campaigns have been in operating in continuity since 1938. This years crisis in schools is one of the most severe, however they believe support will continue for the programs and music will survive as the communities want these programs. This year they celebrated high school music with a Battle of the Bands that was held at Disneyland this year and was called School Jam USA.