Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Nashville Tenessee (once again), to attend Summer NAMM. If you are anything like me, you may not have heard of NAMM or even know much about it. In an attempt to remedy that here is a brief explanation and review of Summer NAMM 2019.
What is NAMM?
NAMM is a music industry trade show that focuses on the latest gear, trends, and techniques used in the music industry. NAMM is an acronym that stands for the National Association of Music Merchants. However, the showcase is full of educators, recording academy members, and students in addition to the vendors. Collectively NAMM has two rules. While at NAMM, you cannot buy anything from a music vendor, and no vendor can sell anything while the showcase is going on. However, you can order from vendors during NAMM on a few conditions (see Summer NAMM’s website for specific details and clarification).
In addition to vendors, and the seemingly endless booths of instruments, amps, (and other assorted solutions to any music-related problem you can think of), NAMM offers a variety of events. Many organizations host events the day before NAMM as “launch parties,” and then will speak on the stages at the convention during the week. This year there were two main stages at the convention center that rotated speakers and topics covered. The two main lecture stages this year were the TEC Stage and the NAMM U stage. The TEC Stage hosted production, gear, and technology-related lectures, while the NAMM U Stage hosted marketing, business, and artist related lectures.
In addition to the lecture stages, there is the Songwriter’s stage, which is set up for a day and allows songwriters to sign up for a slot and play a song if they wish. There is also the Summer NAMM stage where major artists perform throughout the day.
NAMM is one of the few times a year in which music industry professionals are primarily in one place. It is a time for musicians to seek endorsements, network, and learn about the industry as a whole. Many panels offer Q and A portions, as well as meet-and-greets, allowing attendees to interact with them as seek advice or connections.
How do I get in?
To be able to attend NAMM, you must be a NAMM member, as well as an industry professional with credentials. To be able to get into NAMM, you must submit your credentials to get your badge, as well as pay a fee. Students must provide a student ID to be able to get their badge. However, the last day of the exhibition is open to the public, so it is possible to go even if you are not an industry professional.
Overall, I enjoyed getting to attend NAMM this year. I was there for five days, and I did think that it was almost too much time. If you are looking to try out guitars, or are a musician who is passionate about gear, I would highly recommend it. As I am not a professional musician, so I attended more lectures and spent time milling around talking to people as the week went on. It is important to note that Winter NAMM is more technology-based than Summer NAMM, which is more focused on musicians than engineers. However, several songwriting panels were phenomenal, and I would highly recommend it. If you manage to attend both internal and external events making the trip to any NAMM is a must for any music industry professional at least once.