ANAHEIM, CA (January 11, 2017)—The annual convocation known as the NAMM Show returns this month to the Anaheim Convention Center, January 19-22, once again drawing together manufacturers, retailers and practitioners from all corners of the MI and pro audio industries. But while pro audio was once almost an afterthought at the massive trade show, able to be housed almost entirely in the arena at the convention’s North end, today it is a key and vibrant element of the NAMM Show, readily found throughout the facility’s many halls.
NAMM has openly acknowledged and augmented pro audio’s growing presence in recent years, first with its purchase of the TEC Awards and now with a notable bolstering of its audio education offerings. As Joe Lamond, president and CEO, told Pro Sound News, “Our goal is to deliver career-enhancing opportunities each day through next-level education from industry luminaries and peer-to-peer networking, all taking place alongside the many exhibitors and participants who make up the broader musical ecosystem.”
Recording education in the form of the TEC Tracks sessions has been a draw for the show, and this year promises to continue that effort. “Along with a robust show floor spotlighting the latest innovations in the recording market, recording will also be a centerpiece of the education program at The NAMM Show,” said Lamond. “TEC Tracks sessions will cover everything from vocal miking technology to studio design to mastering to vinyl—the most relevant topics for this community of professionals. Saturday’s TEC Tracks program will even have a special focus on recording and feature special sessions by super producers Peter Asher and Jack Douglas, who will be inducted into the NAMM TEC Hall of Fame at the TEC Awards that evening.”
Nonetheless, many artists are making more money on the road these days than from streaming and sales, and the importance of the live sound market has only grown as a result. Reflecting that shift, this year’s NAMM Show will be the first to host a dedicated live sound education day. “Live Sound Day will offer a deep dive into the most relevant, important topics for this community,” said Lamond. “The opening session, for instance, will feature an exciting panel of preeminent front-of-house mixing engineers, moderated by live sound engineer Mark Frink. A session on Dante networking technology will reveal how major manufacturers are using Dante in their products, and also preview what’s to come with Dante training and certification on the following days at the show. Plus, there will be sessions on DSP tools for enhancing a live sound system, future-proofing your wireless inventory, live recording and more.”
The annual NAMM Show attracts manufacturers and audio pros, but also a slew of musicians, including Stevie Wonder (center).
The Dante training is expected to be of particular interest to pros, not only for the certification but also for the fact that it’s being provided free. “We believe that becoming proficient in the latest technology will help our friends in the live sound community be more successful in the years ahead,” said Lamond. “By offering these important opportunities at NAMM, we hope to continue to build on our reputation as the place to go to learn and grow as an industry professional. In the future, I can see even more education, events and networking opportunities for live sound professionals at The NAMM Show.”
More changes are ahead for the sprawling convention in coming years, most immediately being the 2018 edition which will be the first to benefit from the opening of a new hall, currently under construction. Lamond mused, “While we are constrained by the size of the Anaheim Convention Center, we are eagerly awaiting the opening of the expansion in 2018 to meet the demand of attendees and companies which have wanted to expand for years and welcoming the many new companies and crowds that we’re so fortunate to be attracting to the show.”
Despite changes both current and coming, the main draw of the convention will always the trade show floor, which mixes the MI world, pro audio realm and the occasional celebrity sighting. While Lamond readily acknowledges that well-known musicians can be spotted working their way across the show floor (it’s hard to remember a year where Stevie Wonder hasn’t popped in, for instance), the NAMM president downplays the buzz factor that their presence provides.
“I suspect that one of the things that make the NAMM Show unique is that in spite of the wide range of attendees, we are all united in our love of music and the desire to learn and grow,” he said. “When artists are walking the aisles, they are not thinking [about being a] celebrity. Rather, they are a part of a community of musicians who are simply looking for the latest tools to practice their craft—journeyman players who are respected for their music, not who they might be dating. And the business of making and selling the latest innovations will always be one of the primary reasons so many make the pilgrimage to Anaheim.”
As the convention—and now its convention center—continue to grow, the NAMM Show may be looking to be all things to all people, but it also harbors the resources to make that happen. Lamond offered, “For manufacturers who attend the show or are thinking about attending, the show offers a stable and reliable platform to access the global buyers and distributors representing over $10 billion dollars in purchasing power. For professionals thinking of the same, I would encourage them to attend, enhance their skill sets and industry connections, as I suspect for exhibitors and professionals alike that you will find your home is at NAMM.”
The NAMM Show
This article originally appeared in the January, 2017 issue of Pro Sound News as 'NAMM Readies 2017 Convention.'