Joe Lamond, NAMM President and CEO, answers a few questions about the history of the NAMM show, what to expect from this year's show, acknowledging industry greats lost in 2016 & so much more.
PH: What is it that makes the NAMM show different then the myriad of other trade shows that professionals can choose to attend? Is it location? The exhibitors? The speakers? The training? All the love?
Lamond: That’s a great question, and I’d say that perhaps it is the intersecting of a global community who are bound together by the love of music. Our formula has been pretty simple; I’m a drummer after all and I suspect it might come down to just a few things; we strive to create a trade show floor full of the latest innovations as I believe product innovation drives any industry. Next, we create professional development opportunities and education for attendees that is relevant and addresses their business challenges. And then we build an environment that encourages the best peer-to-peer networking, parties, concerts, and other gatherings that makes The NAMM Show the one event you would crawl through busted glass to attend.
PH: How long have you been at NAMM? What makes this show exciting for you?
Lamond: Like many NAMM members I am a lifer in this industry; I went to my first NAMM Show in January 1983! So if my math is correct that would make this is my 35th NAMM Show. I joined the staff in 1998 and succeeded long-time CEO Larry Linkin in 2001. I can honestly say that in all that time I have never seen two NAMM Shows that were alike, each one was a brand new experience and memorable for different reasons.
PH: People come to see new gear. Is there anything (gear wise) that you think will be a showstopper this year?
Lamond: As the trend has been for the past few years, anything to do with technology products, pro audio, software and apps or event technology and live sound and lighting will take up large portions of the show floor. Conversely, a new crop of start-ups making handcrafted instrument of all kinds also continue to grow. It’s a great dichotomy: on one hand, you have groundbreaking advances in technology products being announced and on the other hand this amazing growth in beautiful hand crafted instruments of intrinsic value that will be played for generations to come. As always though, this question is very personal and everyone walking the show floor will find their own treasures.
PH:The music industry lost a lot of great artists in 2016. Are there any plans to acknowledge those artists?
Lamond: Each year, we honor those the industry has lost in the previous year on Thursday evening with our Industry Tribute in the Grand Plaza. The tribute includes professional musicians and songwriters associated with the industry. Immediate names that to come to mind which will be honored this year include Merle Haggard, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Scotty Moore, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Leon Russell, Buckwheat Zydeco, and Pauline Oliveros. We will also honor the many NAMM Member retailers, publishers, manufacturers and other industry peers who are no longer with us. It’s a solemn event but being side-by- side with thousands of people in the Grand Plaza brings home the true family connection that epitomizes The NAMM Show, and the knowledge that we will all be up there in the tribute someday makes this event especially moving for all of the staff at NAMM.
PH:This is somewhat of a trick question. If you had to pick one area of the show you like the most, what would that be?
Lamond: Yes, that is a trick question, which of the over 1.2 million square feet of the show do I like the best? It would be impossible to pick one, rather what I like most about the show is the feeling that I get when I walk into the convention center on Thursday morning; it’s like the progression seen in the beginning of the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy is transported out of the black and white in Kansas and lands in Technicolor Oz. It’s pure sensory overload of sound and color and of people and energy. Honestly, if the vibrancy of the show could be bottled and sold there would an endless demand because it creates the kind of euphoria that cannot be duplicated.
PH: Anything else you would like to add?
Lamond: I believe it is important to know that as vital as The NAMM Show is for all of us and the marketplace it is perhaps even more valuable than many think. NAMM’s ‘Circle of Benefit’s’ business model ensure that trade show revenues are reinvested year-round to programs, grants, scholarships, government relations and public relations all designed to build the case for music and music education. The staff at NAMM and our many partners around the world are dedicated to one key goal, getting more people to start playing music and getting fewer to quit. So while the show gets our year off to an amazing start, the impact of knowing that millions of kids around the world have access to music education because of NAMM’s efforts over the years is really something to celebrate.