The world famous National Association of Music Merchants Show, took over the Anaheim Convention Center this past weekend. Music lovers from all across the globe gathered together to show off their new technologies, scope out the competition and meet some of the most innovative minds in the industry. Walking into NAMM is the equivalent of a kid at a candy store: The trade show featured four floors of expos of all varieties, from lighting rigs to interactive DJ gear and performances and appearances from big names in music, including Cage the Elephant, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Steve Vai and more.
The NAMM show first began in 1901 with a vision to strengthen the musical products industry in order to promote listening to and making music. Since its inception, the NAMM show has attracted vendors to create a music merchant community, as well as a community for musicians and professionals who work with the merchants regularly. Big companies like Yamaha, Taylor, Avid, Shure, Sennheiser, Moog and many others had remarkable booths that showcased more than just their products, but their company’s brand by providing unique user experiences at their booths. For example, Taylor Guitars had an entire room full of different models of their guitars hanging on the walls where anyone could come in, grab a guitar off the wall and play or see a variety of different performances. Performances in the Taylor room went on throughout the day, from country artists to singer-songwriters. Likewise, Avid, the creator of the music industry standard software Pro Tools, had several booths with different workshops throughout the days, ranging from Pro Tools basics to more advanced training on many different concepts. Pioneer DJ, known for their popular DJ gear, displayed many of their new products and had different workstations setup with tutorials so visitors could put on headphones and be instantly transformed into DJs.
Furthermore, any of the companies at NAMM that made instruments had their products on display at their booths so attendees could try them out on the floor, leading to some stellar, impromptu jam sessions. The convention floor was filled with sounds of horns, synths, and strums of ukuleles and mandolins alike. The loudest section was the percussion instruments. Drummers and percussionists quickly turned the area into a place where one could find them playing energetic and improvised solos or testing every type of cymbal imaginable. These experiences at NAMM gathered musicians, technicians and many USC students to learn more about the music industry, to network with industry professionals and to jam out with their fellow musicians.
“I went because I love seeing what’s new in music technology,” said Austin Foley, a junior majoring in music industry. “As a producer and instrumentalist, NAMM has everything that you want to see for the future of your career. To pass up on NAMM is like being one step behind the industry; you won’t know what new gear to get without its hands-on experience.”
While NAMM provides an array of different workshops and do-it-yourself activities, it is also a place to celebrate music by featuring live performances from a magnitude of artists. Attendees were treated to many different performances throughout the weekend, one of which was USC’s own Katie Stump, a senior currently majoring in popular music at the Thornton School of Music. Playing a 45-minute set, Katie graced the NAMM Acoustic Stage of the Sheraton Hotel Saturday night with her emotional lyrics and vibrant melodies.
Although NAMM showcases different technologies, speakers, microphones and instruments, at the end of the day, music is what brings the show together and creates a community within the music industry. Technology and its mechanizations will continue to change throughout the years, but what is certain is that the NAMM show will continue to promote the music community for years to come.