AES at NAMM: A Smart Collaboration

The National Association of Music Merchants and The Audio Engineering Society will team up to create "AES at NAMM," a new slate of educational offerings debuting at The 2018 NAMM Show. Just 10 years ago, the idea would have left the industry scratching its collective head, as AES Conventions were seen as attracting the tech-minded while NAMM had a rep for drawing the rock n’ roll crowd. Neither stereotype was accurate, but the fact remains: Back then, AES at NAMM would have sounded like a weird sitcom premise—can two trade groups share a convention without driving each other crazy?
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Clive Young,

Editor-In-Chief, PSN

The National Association of Music Merchants and The Audio Engineering Society will team up to create "AES at NAMM," a new slate of educational offerings debuting at The 2018 NAMM Show. Just 10 years ago, the idea would have left the industry scratching its collective head, as AES Conventions were seen as attracting the tech-minded while NAMM had a rep for drawing the rock n’ roll crowd. Neither stereotype was accurate, but the fact remains: Back then, AES at NAMM would have sounded like a weird sitcom premise—can two trade groups share a convention without driving each other crazy?

What a difference a decade makes. We’ve seen the MI and pro audio sectors intertwine, sometimes blurring the lines between consumer, pro-sumer and pro gear beyond recognition. Today, musicians of every stripe, whether they have an ear for the classics or classic rock, turntablism or EDM, need to know about audio production, both live and in the (often home) studio. So 10 years ago, AES at NAMM wouldn’t have made sense, but today, you almost have to wonder what took so long.

While the NAMM Show has offered its TEC Tracks programming in recent times and debuted an expanded Live Sound education day during this year’s convention, teaming with the AES will bring an increased depth to the show's educational offerings. Speaking off the cuff to Pro Sound News, AES officials characterized the planned technical sessions, presentations, workshops and tutorials as a mini AES Convention, minus the hardcore technical papers and standards committee meetings.

What officials didn’t say, but which seems patently clear, is that 2018 will be a crucial moment for both of their signature trade shows, so the team-up allows each organization to buy a little insurance against the future.

The annual Winter NAMM Show will undergo a monumental expansion next January, incorporating a newly built additional exhibit hall at the Anaheim Convention Center for the first time. While the NAMM Show has not revealed how it will use the new space, industry discussions have suggested for months that it may become a home for pro audio exhibitors.

Bringing in the AES, then, is a clever way to cement the NAMM Show’s drawing power in the pro audio community, helping ensure that sound professionals (whose attendance has been up at the convention in recent years) have all the more reason to make the trip to Anaheim.

The move won’t hurt the AES either, allowing it to serve up convention-style education without having to actually hold a West Coast convention—a smart move because there won’t be one in 2018.

Traditionally, the AES Convention alternates between the West Coast and New York City; this year’s edition will be held in New York, co-locating for the first time with NAB Show New York, at the Javits Convention Center, October 18-21, 2017. While details of the 2018 Convention have not yet been officially announced, the co-location agreement with NAB runs for two years, so the AES will break with tradition and remain in New York for 2018 as well.

Bringing in truckloads of AES workshops, panels and presentations to the NAMM Show next winter will ensure that the Audio Engineering Society continues its mission to provide educational outreach to its members and the pro audio community at large. If anything, given that the NAMM Show has far higher attendance than an AES Convention due to the broad base of markets that it serves, AES at NAMM will allow the Audio Engineering Society to reach a larger potential audience in the Los Angeles area than ever before. With all that in mind, AES at NAMM is poised to be a win-win for both organizations—and most importantly, for the pro audio community as well.