The 2020 NAMM Show kicked off with “Breakfast of Champions,” hosted by NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond. During this educational session, Lamond interviewed several industry experts on a concept called “crossroads.” He began the session by discussing the state of the industry and looking at how the industry has come to a “crossroads of opportunity.”
“As we start 2020, I believe we’ve come to what I call an ‘in-between period,’” Lamond said. “We’re in between conventional automobiles and self-driving cars. We’re in between medicine and new cures that will ensure our kids and grandkids never die of the age-old diseases that plague us. And we’re in between the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence and what that will bring. So ‘in between,’ to me, is the actual definition of a crossroads.
“And I think it’s fair to say that we’re at a crossroads in the industry, as well, and more than anything else, [it’s] a crossroads of opportunity.
“In the last decade, we lived through a pretty transformative period. Some businesses grew through that period, some held steady and, as we know, some didn’t make it. But at the cusp of 2020, everyone in this room—every one of you—has new opportunities. And because of that, maybe some of you are also at a crossroads—an in-between state.
“So for this and many other reasons, crossroads is kind of a metaphor we’ve been using at NAMM … it’s even become part of our ongoing strategy, too, as it seems perfect to describe this new business environment, the kind of in-between state.
“So I’m talking about this word a lot. What do I mean exactly when I say crossroads? Why do I think it’s important, and why do I think it’s important enough to talk about here?
“First, crossroads is the idea that I think all industry segments converge and influence one another. Just look at this stage. We’ve got instruments, P.A., video, lights. And the music on this stage impacts the audio and the video wall, which impacts the graphics, which impacts the lighting—and, of course, ultimately impacts all of us, the audience.
“Two, I think crossroads is also a state of mind. It’s an understanding that we can’t ignore the big picture while we tend to our day-to-day. We have to focus on the entire ecosystem of our business just to stay ahead. That might mean, for some of you, diversifying. It might mean making some really tough decisions—maybe to abandon one segment for another more profitable one. Either way, we can’t forget that as we’re changing, the world around us is also changing. That means we must all choose to adapt, constantly.
“I would even say that crossroads, if you take it further, is a movement. It’s an embracing of all the professional communities in our industry and acknowledging that they’re all interconnected. Think of it as a celebration of the diversity of our industry. Maybe you run a full-line retail store. A lot of you would then moonlight at a club doing sound, or at a church playing. How many of [us] are still active music makers ourselves? And point blank, because of that, none of us really fits into a specific box. We have different businesses, professions, aspirations. We’re all wired differently. And still … all of you have an essential place in this industry. You belong.
“And of course, crossroads is maybe The NAMM Show itself. Think of the old caravans, the old silk road, linking culture, technology and trade. That sounds familiar, right?
“But it does beg the question that we’ve all been asking—and we should be asking this. Like the famed Delta bluesman who sold his most precious possession, what are you willing to give up to get what you want at the crossroads?
“And not surprisingly, there’s another group that’s also at a crossroads, and that’s the community we all serve: music. Music-makers.
“Did you know that on average, live music now accounts for 75 percent of a musician’s income? And it was only 30 percent as recently as the ’90s. According to Pollstar, the North American concert market increased by 35 percent in the last five years. Artists are now making a living on the road, replacing their lost recording revenue. The concert and festival business is at an all-time high. Pro audio, entertainment and music technology are making for an exciting growth story in our industry.
“In a sense, you could say the industry might be coming full circle. Think back to NAMM’s origins in 1901, when live music was the foundation of the industry and, in fact, live music was the only music. And here we are, 120 years later. Perhaps we have returned to our roots, and that’s a good thing.
“Thinking of the live experience, why have humans—at great expense and great historical risk sometimes—continued to gather since the dawn of recorded history? Look at this room. Why are we all here?
“It seems at some basic level, we’re all hardwired to gather. We’re experiencing this thing together as a group. And that’s where you all come in. That’s where we come in as an industry. You are the creators and the producers of those experiences. It is something so many of us have a passion for, and it’s something we do well. And as we know, music and production are essential to live, in-person experiences, whether it’s a school play, a conference, a house of worship service, a political rally or the largest concerts and festivals in the world.”
Lamond then urged everyone to use their time at the NAMM Show to find their own crossroads of opportunity. Afterwards, he welcomed the session guests.
Check out the interview segmenets: