Story and Photos By Geoffrey Maingart
Co-Writer Valerie Milano
Anaheim, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/23/17 – The 2017 edition of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) was held at the Anaheim Convention Center from Thursday 19th through Sunday 21st of January. Musicians, instrument manufacturers, artists, software makers, lighting, special effects and every type of noise maker imaginable were on hand to be played, banged, blown into or bowed by dealers, buyers and some of the best artists in the world.
Wednesday was a special day for the press and media to introduce the events planned for the week and highlight a few standout instruments represented at the show. From modular guitars by Somnium (www.somniumguitars.com) that can be reconfigured in less than a minute with interchangeable pickups, fretboards, necks and bodies to a unique tracking chip to locate lost or stolen gear by Gearsecure (www.gearsecuremusic.com) , we were able to view and try some truly remarkable new products. Gearsecure is really needed in today’s mobile world and comes with a mobile GPS driven app and tiny chip that can be located anywhere in the world. One can even track other musicians in a band that wondered off.
CF Martin and Co. was there with the 2,000,000th guitar special edition made with an amazing internal clock and gemstones and valued at over $1,000,000. Fishman amplifiers, 3Dvarius (www.3d-varius.com) a high end violin using 3d printing technology, string manufacturers, guitars by Fender, Taylor, Zerberus, Yamaha and others were all demonstrated at the opening press day. One unique new product is the Zylia portable recording studio that allows for multi-track recording with a single spherical microphone. All kinds of audio interfaces and pedal effects systems were available at the many booths and display halls to be tried and evaluated.
The string instrument companies had to sadly contend with the mismanagement of the NAMM organizers who place percussion, wind and impossibly loud booths in the midst of violin booths. As a result, many of the regular attendees did not come this year and many more stated that they will not come back again. The many tool makers for instruments also did not return. When one attends the comparable shows in Frankfurt and Shanghai the first noticeable difference is the fine organization with halls set up to show off similar instruments in an acoustically perfect setting. NAMM seems to be more interested in just selling space with little regard for the quality of the experience for the distributors. On setup day there were many complaints from companies about facilities not open and registration delays. The police and parking guards were much better at creating traffic jams then solving them.
There were great morning breakfasts and lectures at the Hilton Hotel conference rooms every morning with brilliant speakers and award ceremonies. One of the best was the lecture by Guy Kawasaki called the Art of Innovation. He spoke of creating a Mantra and not just a slogan. Know you niche and perfect your pitch. When creating a slide show always use a black background and described his 10-20-30 rule which stood for 10 slides, 20 minutes to make your pitch and use a 30-point font. He emphasized critical thinking and teamwork.
Across the hall were the music education awards with The Grand Rally for Music Education with Black Violin, Bernie Williams and Keb’ Mo’. Another great story presented later was SOUNDBREAKING: The Birth of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and Other Tales From Abbey Road. The amazing electric violinist Mark Wood gave a riveting performance with his band on Saturday.
Johnny Depp, Brad Whitford, & Alice Cooper jam with Les Paul Award recipient Joe Perry at the 2017 NAMM TEC Awards honoring the best in professional audio and sound production. Outstanding Creative and Technical winners announced in 31 categories. (https://www.tecawards.org/)
As always, NAMM brings together the best and the brightest in the music industry. We live in this amazing digital age and now it is not necessary to have a music education to create great music. Computer technology and the miniaturization of digital devices, hardware, software and some of the most unique sound creating devices imaginable have changed the way we record media, experience media and share media. The power of our handheld devices have given the opportunity to anyone a chance to create music and content with an unlimited variety of tools and instruments. However, a drum is still a drum and a violin is still a violin and at least for the moment we still need the artists, musicians and companies to make both the instruments and the opportunities for this amazing industry.
The technological strides that have taken place with keyboards and pianos and even electronic drums, and string-less guitars and key-less wind instruments simply amaze musicians who are now mastering these unique instruments. The great recording software developers such as Pro Tools, Mobu and others and loudspeaker and amplification systems are incredible. Now artists and performers can control their own lighting effects from the stage and mixing technology and in ear headphones have made the old monitor systems obsolete. Home recording studios are easy to create and affordable. When combined with the visual arts world of media the future is unlimited. We look forward to seeing what NAMM will bring us in the following years to come.