Dear Fellow Audiofanziners!
NAMM 2012 is well behind us but I still have some juice in me and things that I’d like to get off my chest. This being my first NAMM, the morning of the first day, I walked early to the venue with my colleague, proudly wearing my badge. We were stopped in the street by a musician looking to network, collect business cards, all the stuff he should be doing. He was very nice and energetic and I was happy to give him my card. It then occurred to me that I am in a somewhat privileged position to be attending NAMM.
Just outside the venue, there were lots of musicians always hanging out, looking to network and make things happen for themselves. How can gear builders help struggling musicians? Well it turns out that it is all very incestuous. Often, instrument & music gear makers, especially big ones, have artist relations departments. To demo their products on the showroom floor, they invite some up and coming artists. These artists are lucky enough to play to 100% music industry audience. Most of them were very good. It’s not just gear heads, press, retailers and buyers walking the aisles but also record companies and promoters. Often to promote this signature model or that endorsed product, the famous artist himself would hold an autograph signing session.
At one point there was a musician, maybe slightly drunk, playing his acoustic guitar on a bench, singing his tunes. A security guard was quickly dispatched to put an end to it. You see this is a professional trade event and the public is not allowed. I felt bad for the musician, and the action was in direct conflict with the big NAMM slogan draping the convention center: “Believe in Music” and the tagline “Make it count”.
Visitors to NAMM are allowed to enter but need to be invited by legitimate pass holders. The latter must prove their activity in the music industry to get to register to begin with. Hence, if you have no contacts you can never enter. I have split feelings on this issue. On the one hand- where is the spirit of music? Why can’t the public touch the shiny new products and meet the people behind them? They are the end user at the end of the day. On the other hand, exhibitors are exhausted and stretched thin already displaying their items, meeting industry people. A NAMM show for them is the accumulation of months of hard work and sleepless nights. Over 95,000 people attended the show this year. Imagine if it was open to the public, even for one day? You have to prioritize and focus your efforts.
The tug of war I waged within myself on this issue was quickly resolved on the last day as I left the show. On my way back to the hotel room, a young lady, who looked like she should be starring in “Hair”, stopped me, probably also a bit under some influence and asked me “Hey, are you done with your pass? Can I have it to enter the show?” When I refused apologetically, she bestowed some ‘peace’ thing on me and carried on to the venue with her short skirt and high boots.