By Jessica A. Baris, NAMM Staff Writer
When you meet eyes with someone at The NAMM Show, a smile pops up on your face — and theirs.
That's because there's a special energy shared by the show crowds. When you're with tens of thousands of people from all around the world — participating in the musical experience that is The NAMM Show — you just can't help but feel good.
In January, more than 62,000 people from 125 countries and regions packed the halls of the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California for what's the largest global gathering of the music products industry. Attendees participated in a variety of activities throughout the week, including product demos, professional development, networking and live music.
Below, is a roundup of some of the happenings at the show — including the show floor, education sessions, celebrations at awards nights and Bands at NAMM performances. Of course, this only scrapes the surface of the exciting events that unfolded, but it provides a taste for those who want a glimpse into this year's show. Be sure to read to the end so you don't miss our Best Fashion at The NAMM Show feature.
The Show Floor Wows Attendees
Starting on Thursday, the convention center halls teemed with 1,600+ exhibitors representing 3,500+ brands showcasing their products to attendees who were eager to get their hands on the latest gear. Here are just a few of the fun interactions that attendees had with exhibitors on the show floor:
Attendees took the opportunity to check out and demo products of all kinds — full drum sets, guitars, pianos, horns, pro audio equipment, event lighting and more.
Music Lab entertained guests with a saxophone/keyboard duo.
A piano player tickled the ivories of this Steinway & Sons piano.
Guitar enthusiasts filled the Boutique Guitar Showcase, specially curated by Jamie Gale, to see a variety of guitar brands sharing one-of-a-kind pieces.
A trumpeter got people clapping to "When the Saints Go Marching In."
M.R. Classical Guitar exhibitors demoed a guitar with the accompaniment of a cajon.
An attendee played air drums using Aeroband's inertial navigation technology that captured his drumming motions.
Attendees checked out professional lighting and fog machines.
People held up their phones to record this jam session by Tempo Music Limited.
Crowds gathered and cheered on DJs taking the decks.
DJs dropped beats at the Reloop booth.
Attendees Learn Trends and Best Practices at Education Sessions
With hundreds of education sessions on the schedule, The NAMM Show attendees had a wide range of choices for professional development. Education opportunities covered topics for retailers, brands, pro audio, music technology, live event production, music educators, house of worship professionals, college students and early career professionals.
Artificial intelligence was a hot topic that was covered in a number of education sessions. In the keynote presentation, “Human-Driven Content Creation vs. AI-Driven Content Generation — The Imperative to Define, Label and Protect Artistic Originality,” panelist Doug Stephens, Founder and CEO of Retail Prophet, addressed the two sides of the AI coin for the artists, music technologists and pro audio professionals in the audience.
“I think that this truly can be a wonderful tool for artists to extend and expand the realm of their creativity, but there will be a dark side,” said Stephens. “There's going to be misappropriation of IP, there's going to be a line that we feel intuitively that we've crossed where this isn't human creativity anymore, this is machine-generated content. How we navigate that is really going to be a test.”
House of worship professionals picked up on best practices at education sessions as well. Daniel Querry with Living Waters Christian Fellowship attended at least three sessions.
“It's been inspiring not only just to see that there are other people who are in the same boat and going through the same thing but to be inspired by new technologies, new approaches to how we're engaging with people, and how we're engaging with those technologies in an environment that is niche but broad enough to be approachable to a lot of people,” said Querry.
There were several sessions that addressed the youngest NAMM Show attendees, including students and recent graduates looking for career paths in the music industry. Alexa Tabbacchino, a student at Montclair State University, is aspiring to work in sound design and become a producer and songwriter. She attended “From College to Career: LACM Grads Transition to Working in the Music Industry.”
“It was really helpful to learn about sync and licensing,” said Tabbacchino. “It's something that I'm lacking in my knowledge, and it's really inspiring to know that my work that I have just sitting on my laptop can one day be put out there and I can make money off of it and have people enjoy it.”
What does Tabbacchino think about The NAMM Show overall?
“It's one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life,” she said.
Industry Stars Come Out at Awards Nights
On Wednesday evening, the 2024 NAMM Top 100 Dealer Awards celebrated the industry's 100 best music product retailers, along with winners in seven “Best of” categories and the “Dealer of the Year.”
The 2024 Dealer of the Year, Jeffersonville, Indiana-based Maxwell's House of Music, was honored with the prestigious award for excellence in service, education, sales, community outreach and involvement with local charities. Mark Maxwell, who's attended The NAMM Show for forty years, accepted the award on behalf of his family business.
“We had a rough year in lots of ways, but very blessed in others,” said Maxwell. “This is the music business. There's ups and downs … Everything that I've learned throughout the years here is what brought us to this moment.”
Saturday night, the NAMM ballroom was filled front-to-back with attendees from industry companies to see the results of the 39th annual NAMM TEC Awards. Products in various categories held the spotlight, including Studio Design Project winner, WSDG, for designing the Rue Boyer Studios for Mix with the Masters in a new flagship location in Paris.
“A big thanks to Max and Victor, the owners of Mix with the Masters,” said John Storyk of WSDG. “It was quite a journey building a studio in Paris. Thanks to my team — I don't do it without them. Thanks to you and thanks to my wife.”
The RZA of hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan was honored with the 2024 NAMM TEC Innovation Award. After a video featuring the story of his innovative career as an artist, DJ, producer, actor, filmmaker and other creative roles and endeavors, RZA took the stage to say a few words about the significance of the relationship between artists like him and the tech innovators in attendance.
“When you think about all of us in this room, all these beautiful companies that help us as creators tell our story — so whether we start with an MPC drum machine, a Yamaha piano, or taking it to our Pro Tools or Logic or UA plug-ins — all these different things we put together to meld our magic. And the reality is that all these minds in here ... you guys create the software or the instrument; the merchants then sell it. And then we use it. And there's a synergy of interdependency in that.”
RZA thanked the audience for their efforts behind building the tools that played a part in making his creative works possible. These tools, he said, “allowed me to build my universe and build the Wu-Tang Clan.”
Mornings Begin With Inspirational Breakfast Sessions
On Thursday's opening Industry Insights NAMM U Breakfast Session, NAMM President and CEO John Mlynczak invited thought leaders to share their unique industry perspectives.
Lillian Werbin, CEO and co-owner of Elderly Instruments, spoke on the aspects of her business that led to being selected by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a Top Small Business; British singer-songwriter and guitarist Mary Spender shared about her role as an influencer and the special ability of influencers to transform a business; and CEO of Reverb David Mandelbrot provided insights on the importance of strengthening our industry's ecosystem.
Other highlights from breakfast sessions included a talk with music producer, songwriter, artist and winner of the NAMM 2024 Music for Life award Mark Ronson; the announcement of NAMM NeXT, a thought leadership event that combines industry leaders with outside expertise to create an immersive, professional development experience; musical performances for the Grand Rally for Music Education; and Best in Show, where gear experts shared their top picks from the show floor.
Drummers Play in Unison at the Drum Circle
"One, two, here we go!" directed drum circle facilitator Arthur Hull, and attendees began to beat their drums. This was the annual NAMM Foundation Drum Circle, and thanks to Hull's decades of leading the group at The NAMM Show — and the variety of drums provided by REMO — show attendees were able to enjoy the experience of collective music making.
"My favorite part is connecting with somebody right across the way and you're on the same beat," said drummer, Freddie.
“I've had such a great time at NAMM,” said drummer JP. “I've seen Arthur Hall for the past 30 years lead drum jams. This is my favorite yet.”
Bands at NAMM Bring All Flavors of Music to the Stage
Rock, indie, Latin, jazz, R&B, country music and more … NAMM Show attendees found a variety of musical genres and bands to enjoy.
One of the bands was Sabrosas Latin Orchestra, the only all-female salsa band based in San Diego, California. As a 501(c)(3) organization, they bring together female musicians who are inspired to get people smiling and dancing to salsa, cumbia and other Latin rhythms.
"It's really a treat for us to come up here and connect with some new people, and a lot of us are here checking out the whole NAMM Show which is fun for us too," said trumpet player Elizabeth Howard.
The Best Looks From Around The NAMM Show
Whether you glanced left or right, up or down the convention center escalators, you'd see the fashion creativity brought to The NAMM Show by attendees visiting from all parts of the world. There were so many fashion highlights, that we've collected them for you in this Best Fashion at The 2024 NAMM Show feature.
With a show this big, there's so much that can't be covered here. Next year, join us to get your unique NAMM Show experience — we promise it's something you won't forget.