The Summer NAMM in Nashville hasn’t always been viewed as the most prestigious industry event especially in light of the fact that the larger winter convention in California held by the National Association of Music Merchants is always at the top of everyone’s list to be seen and heard – players and corporations alike. Still, on Saturday, June 15, 2017 Music City was the place to be as Music Industry Day unfolded at the jam packed Music City Center on Demonbreun Street.
Nashville is reveling in the prestige of being the nation’s widely acclaimed current “it” city and one stroll through the downtown reveals its current fast-paced growth. In the same way, Summer NAMM may finally be coming of age. As we walked through the crowded exhibition center we were impressed by the 1,650 brands presented by a total of 505 exhibitors featuring a dynamic mix of top-name makers in traditional MI such as Fender, Gibson, Sabian, Peavy, Fishman, Martin, Eventide, Gator Cases, Hal Leonard, Gretsch, Boss, Yamaha, D’Addario, and a variety of pro audio companies were also on-hand including Avid, IK Multimedia, CAD Audio, Casio, PreSonus, Neutrik, Rupert Neve Designs, and many more.
Attendance figures released by the organization following the three-day event proved our observations to be true as 14,284 industry members were welcomed to the show – yielding a 2% increase from 2016. Following a trend of Mid-Tenn serving as a magnet for foreign visitors – international attendees accounted for a growth of 14% over 2016 and a nearly 28% growth over 2015.
During our stay we ran into several famous musicians taking in the Summer NAMM experience. First, we shared an elevator with the world-famous saxophone player Jim Horn who was recently inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame as a member of the Nashville Cats. We saw one-time Fleetwood Mac member and Jackson Browne associate Rick Vito strolling the halls of the exhibition center. Living Colour bassist Doug Wimbish caught our eye so we wished him well on his band’s upcoming new album Shade. We also observed the highly acclaimed ample talent of local guitarist Justin Johnson and we made a note to catch him live – you should, too.
We enjoyed test driving several guitars as many manufactures had large displays set-up complete with amps and headphones with no sight of a pushy salesmen anywhere to be found. We played some Casio keyboards and put many mics through the paces over the course of an entertaining afternoon in Nashville. The instrument that excited us the most was the versatile electronic Artiphon Touch Sound device that can replicate a guitar, violin, piano and more all through a slick and compact rectangular interface.
We were surprised that the organizers of Summer NAMM didn’t take a little more pride in their published scheduling. A long soundcheck for Saturday headliner Charley Pride pushed back his slotted 1 p.m. performance by thirty-five minutes leaving fans outdoors in the heat waiting for the country star to take the sage. This was shocking on two levels as it shouldn’t have been such an ordeal to get the sound up to speed at a music industry event such as this and participants were missing out on a lot of activities, panels and presentations indoors as they waited for the music to start.
Next up for the music instrument, pro audio and live event tech industry will be The 2018 NAMM Show. Held January 25-28 in Anaheim, The 2018 NAMM Show campus will be expanded and reimagined with the addition of a 100,000 square-foot building, alliances with ESTA, AES and others, new exhibitors in the lighting, live sound and event technologies areas, as well as networking opportunities and events, such as the Parnelli Awards, designed to serve the crossroads of the industry.
Summer NAMM 2017 was stacked with musical merchandise.