Winter NAMM 2010--A Bellwether?

By Clive Young. At the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim earlier this month, it was business as usual. There were product announcements, aging rockstars and their cohorts, packed aisles full of tire-kickers, and lots of music. Perhaps the most striking thing, however, was the fact that the show really was “business as usual.”
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By Clive Young.

At the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim earlier this month, it was business as usual. There were product announcements, aging rockstars and their cohorts, packed aisles full of tire-kickers, and lots of music. Perhaps the most striking thing, however, was the fact that the show really was “business as usual.”

In the wake of a terrible year for the MI business, the convention had an interesting vibe. As I visited dozens of pro audio booths at the show, time and again, I found that one of the most noticeable things the companies exhibited was calm.

What a difference a few months can make! The pro audio world last convened back in October at the AES show in New York; there, many exhibitors repeated the mantra “things are gonna pick up; it’s gonna get better!” with a slightly manic air that made it seem less likely to come true each time they said it.

At the NAMM show, however, with the books finally closed on 2009 and the clean slate of 12 new months ahead of them, pro audio exhibitors were excited, but more importantly, they were no longer scared.

Some of this has to do with the fact that numerous pro-audio companies are moving ahead with new products and R&D efforts, taking the ‘innovate your way to recovery’ perspective to heart. Proof of that can be found in the 40-plus product videos we made at the show, all of which can be seen here on prosoundnews.com. Still, knowing you have an ace up your sleeve can calm jittery nerves, but that wasn’t the only reason for pro audio’s upbeat new 'tude.

Many company reps mentioned that things are in fact picking up, and while it’s not at the rocket-sled speed that everyone would like, fear-fueled hopefulness has now been replaced by calm patience--and not the grim sort either. Clearly, the vibe in the pro audio sector was that the worst is behind us and that good things are in sight, if not always in reach--yet.

The NAMM show had some other trends, including a noticeably larger pro audio presence. Part of that might well be because the NAMM folks report there were nearly 250 new exhibitors on-hand, ticking the show’s total to 1,373. Backing pro audio’s increased visibility at the show, when NAMM sent out a post-show wrap-up to the media, filled with enthusiastic quotes from exhibitors, numerous comments included were from pro audio manufacturers like Shure and Yamaha, and some attendee quotes came from pro audio dealers and live sound companies. Who knows—maybe the next thing the pro audio industry will teach the MI world isn’t how to record or which cable goes where in your live rig, but how to gain and maintain graceful temerity.