NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) is a music candy store for music retailers. It’s where music manufacturers gather every January to share with over 100,000 people from all around the world, their latest products and gear. Founded in 1901, the exposition features everything from guitars to amplifiers, to mandolins, to banjos, to cables, to speakers, to guitar picks, microphones, special effects software, education, networking, and everything in between.
Recognizable manufacturers like Peavey, Gibson, Yamaha, Taylor, Martin, Rolland, Zildjian, Pearl, and Ernie Ball, along with 7,000 other brands from all over the world all descend on Anaheim, California in the middle of January to set up shop for four days to share, and demonstrate, and teach about their latest creations.
There’s literally some new thing there for everyone. And there’s live music everywhere! Artists demonstrate instruments and amplifiers and special effects. Bands entertain attendees in practically every corner of the convention center – as well as the Arena Plaza, the Marriott, Hilton, and the Sheraton hotels, way into the night. It’s all designed to entice the merchants into retailing these new creations to their loyal customer base.
Yet for many, it’s like a homecoming or reunion – you get to hang out with industry friends and comrades – fellow road warriors, singers, and musicians – for days, talking shop, trading licks, and getting geared up for the season to come. Everyone is there to be a part of the cutting edge of all that it takes to make music for another year. It’s one of the best motivational, educational, and inspirational music baptisms that you get to experience, every year. And if you’re lucky, you’ll even get to spend a little time in Disneyland.
NAMM’s stated mission is “to strengthen the music products industry and promote the pleasures and benefits of making music.” It does that and more. Their vision statement; “to envision a world in which the joy of making music is a precious element of daily living for everyone; a world in which every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught; and in which every adult is a passionate champion and defender of that right,” resonates through everything we encounter in our little corner of the music world. In fact it’s part of the inspiration for what we do at Americana Rhythm.
20 years ago I attended my first NAMM show while serving as Managing Editor for another, now retired publication, Singer and Musician. My experiences at NAMM through those years was part of the inspiration that led me to create Americana Rhythm Music Magazine after recognizing an under served niche’. Some of the folks I met along the way are people I still consider good friends in the industry, and even 20 years later, we found a way to reconnect at NAMM 2020.
NAMM’s flagship event in January is complimented by a smaller summer version held in July in Nashville, TN, as well and NAMM U, the educational arm that provides educational programs for all its members. Those learning opportunities consist of free sessions at NAMM Shows, NAMM U Breakfast Sessions, the NAMM Idea Center and Retail Summits, along with NAMM U Online.
As a trade organization, the NAMM show and its services are available specifically to its members who meet the proper criteria; companies that manufacture, distribute and/or retail musical instruments/products. And attendance to the NAMM trade shows is generally restricted to “trade only” companies. But the thousands of folks who do find themselves participating in the organization dramatically influence the final product you see at every performance you attend where music involved.
Written By Greg Tutwiler
Here are just a few links to some product reviews we helped facilitate this year in partnership with the Disc Jockey News Network while on assignment for Americana Rhythm: