As a platform to develop new business strategies, connect with industry peers and to springboard into a successful second-half of the year and the all-important holiday sales season, 2017 Summer NAMM welcomed a plethora of buyers, exhibitors, artists, industry veterans and music professionals last week at Music City Center in Nashville (July 13-15). The annual show drew crowds of industry pros seeking to invest in their businesses and gain a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic marketplace.
“The pace of change is accelerating, and with it, never has it been more critical to long-term business success to work on your business rather than in it,” said Joe Lamond, NAMM president and CEO. “The three days of Summer NAMM offered our valued members the tools needed to nurture and grow their businesses through opportunities to cultivate new relationships, reaffirm existing ones and invest in their businesses through high-value educational opportunities.”
An abundance of professional education sessions and leading manufacturers welcomed 14,284 industry members to the show, a 2 % increase from 2016. Of note, international attendees accounted for a growth of 14% over 2016, and nearly 28% growth over 2015; a trend which continues to demonstrate the international opportunities available to both buyers and exhibiting members alike. Buyers from around-the-world found their way to Summer NAMM in a comparable count to 2016, but with the diversity of location and store product mix and needs as differentiating factors. This year’s event welcomed a slight increase of 1% buying firms to the show; an increase attributed to multi-line carriers from the U.S. and Europe, and large ecommerce and click and mortar warehouse retailers populating the show floor with buying power.
The show counted 1,650 brands presented by 505 total exhibitors, comparable to 2016, but representing a 2% increase over 2015. Exhibitors included a dynamic mix of top-name makers in traditional MI including Fender, Gibson, Sabian, Peavy, Fishman, Martin, Eventide, Gator Cases, Hal Leonard, Gretsch, Boss, Yamaha, D’Addario, and a variety of pro audio companies were also on-hand including Avid, IK Multimedia, CAD Audio, Casio, PreSonus, Neutrik, Rupert Neve Designs, and many more.
For established brands like Fender, Justin Norvell, Senior Vice President said that “Summer NAMM is the springboard for the back half of the year and a time where you create excitement and create energy with dealers, retailers, and partners in the industry, and set the table for Q3 and 4, which is when most of the business is done in the industry.”
David Jahnke, Senior Vice President of Sales for Hal Leonard echoed the sentiment: “We come to meet with existing dealers, but also to make a lot of new connections. It’s a great opportunity to connect with a lot of retailers we probably wouldn’t see throughout the year. Summer NAMM really gives us the ability to have deeper conversations.”
New and returning exhibitors accounted for 235 of the exhibitor count and included emerging brands like Audio Fusion, 3Dio, Devilcat Amplifiers, Locomotive Audio, Serek Basses, the Electric Harmonica Company and many others. For a variety of new exhibitors, the vibrancy and opportunity to exhibit at Summer NAMM is a “must have” for the growth of their business. Tim Barbour, co-founder of Strung, a custom guitar string accessory maker, explained: “We didn’t know what to expect for the first time coming here and we’ve met some amazing people,” he enthused. “Within the first hour of the show, we’ve opened up a few wholesale accounts and we’re already planning to come back.”
Another first-time exhibitor, 3Dio, a binaural microphone company, chose Summer NAMM to launch their products. Jeffrey Anderson, founder and CEO of the company shared, “Summer NAMM is our first show, and being in Nashville is the ideal location for us. There are retailers and manufacturers here to garner interest in our products and make connections, and artists are able to give it a try.”
More than 60 professional development sessions, designed to enhance skills and businesses across the industry, were presented by NAMM U and TEC Tracks. Hot topics included innovative store design, video marketing secrets, and differentiating your lesson program, as well as a variety of technology focused sessions including the art of music production, audio for VR and live sound essentials. Special guests, including country hit-makers Sheryl Crowe and Sara Evans delighted the crowd, making for a could-not-miss gathering for professionals involved in all areas of the industry.
“The Summer NAMM Show goes leaps and bounds beyond the inventory selection process. I use this week as an opportunity to network and meet people, grow, be a sponge and soak up knowledge from other industry veterans,” offered Tim Spicer, owner of Spicer’s Music. “The Idea Center and the networking opportunities give you the opportunity to grow personally and professionally, and the wisdom gained will help your business for years to come.”
NAMM U and TEC Tracks were top-stop-spots for leading retailers, including Robert Christie, President of A&G Central Music (and 2017 Dealer of the Year), shared, “I come mostly to connect with my peers and attend the educational sessions. There are a lot of smart people here, so I take advantage to learn more. When you’re surrounded by people who have the same passions for the things that you do, and are continuing to learn how to do it better, it can’t help but rub off on you. We learn lessons at every NAMM Show.”
“We like coming to Summer NAMM for the classes. We’ve been in business 45 years, we know you always have to keep your eyes and ears open to what’s attracting the customer, how we can make ourselves visible in ways we might not have thought of, how to approach a customer with a conversation they might not have thought about,” said Renee Farley, owner of Farley’s House of Pianos.
The show kicked off Thursday morning with a session from futurist and “Retail Prophet” Doug Stephens in a session titled “The Retail Store of the Future.” In the NAMM U Breakfast Session, Stephens shared his thoughts on what awaits retail and how the music products industry can begin to chart the future now. Friday’s Breakfast Session welcomed customer experience expert Doug Fleener as he presented “The Connected Consumer: Customer Experience in an Online World.” Fleener offered best practices for creating a valued customer experience in-store and online. Saturday morning offered perennial favorite “Best in Show.” Presented by moderator and Music Inc. Publisher Frank Alkyer, the panel of independent retailers discussed their top product picks from the show floor.
Networking and exciting NAMM at Night events could be found each day of the show, starting on Thursday with the 34th annual American Eagle Awards. The annual awards show honored country music legend Crystal Gayle; singer, songwriter and poet Patti Smith; and comic, actor, writer, musician and creators’ rights activist Harry Shearer. Presented by the National Music Council, the highly prestigious awards are presented each year in recognition of long-term contributions to American musical culture and heritage, the importance of music education for all children, and the need to protect creators’ rights locally and internationally. NAMM members in attendance enjoyed performances from each artist, and the chance to witness Paul Shaffer and Richard Leigh present the awards.
Friday evening gathered the industry to honor their peers in the Top 100 Dealer awards. Now in its seventh year, the Top 100 applaud the excellence and innovation found in music products retailing and this year, recognized A&G Central Music with the prestigious “Dealer of the Year” award. The event was hosted by Country Music Television personality Cody Alan, complete with music from Tim Akers and The Smoking Section featuring “American Idol” finalist, Melinda Doolittle. A complete list of winners can be found here: https://www.namm.org/news/press-releases/namm-celebrates-world’s-top-1…
On Saturday – Music Industry Day – attendees and members welcomed country music legend Charley Pride. Pride treated the crowd to a rousing performance spanning his decades of hits, including “Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone?” and a few songs off his recently released album, Music in My Heart.
As the 2017 Summer NAMM Show came to a close, the industry left armed and focused on bringing value back to their businesses for a successful second-half of the year. New exhibitor, Jake Serek, founder of Serek Basses said, “The feedback and connections I’ve made here will carry back with me to my shop and help me improve my business and my products. I’ve made lots of valuable connections at Summer NAMM which I’ll carry home with me.”
Next up for the music instrument, pro audio and live event tech industry will be The 2018 NAMM Show. Held January 25-28 in Anaheim, The 2018 NAMM Show campus will be expanded and reimagined with the addition of 100,000 square-foot building, new alliances with ESTA, AES and others, new exhibitors in the lighting, live sound and event technologies areas, as well as new networking opportunities and events, such as the Parnelli Awards, designed to serve the crossroads of the industry.
Cover Photo Credit: Jason Davis/Getty Images for NAMM