NAMM Young Professionals

Elizabeth Dale

The NAMM Young Professionals (NAMM YP) offers an opportunity to connect, grow, and network with other industry professionals under 40 years of age.

NAMM YP was founded in 1957 as the National Association of Young Music Merchants (NAYMM). Early members would wear specially designed red coats at The NAMM Show that included a logo to identify them as NAMM Show ambassadors granting them a unique opportunity to network with other NAMM Members.

Over time, NAMM YP expanded its presence at The NAMM Show. Just over ten years ago, the group’s NAMM Show gathering expanded to include a social mixer and an educational component to enhance the professional development and networking opportunities for its participants. Today, NAMM YP presents a keynote-style event from an industry leader which offers valuable insights to attendees. Past NAMM YP speakers include JC Curleigh (Gibson), Saul Friedgood (Eastman Music), Chris Martin (Martin Guitars), and Joel Menchey (Menchey Music).

NAMM Young Professionals (YP)—Keynote With Saul Friedgood, Eastman Music

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The past decade has seen NAMM YP participation grow as NAMM continuously expands communications to NAMM Members and their employees. Outside of The NAMM Show events, NAMM YP communicates and connects through NAMMYP.org and on Facebook. The group also encourages self-led development by offering a curated reading list of books targeted to help young professionals further develop their skills.

Recently, the NAMM YP introduced a mentorship program. Launched at 2018’s Summer NAMM, a committee helps match mentors with mentees in a year-long commitment that begins with a face-to-face meeting at Summer NAMM and continues through the year with a monthly meeting to discuss pressing issues and goals progress.

We sat down with NAMM YP President Jeremy Payne of The Music People to discuss his experiences with NAMM YP and the group’s future.

How has participating in NAMM YP helped you advance in the industry?

I could give you a laundry list, but most of it boils down to some form of networking. Having a diverse group of friends to lean on for any given topic has made a difference in my professional development. I met most of my closest industry friends at a NAMM YP event or through mutual connections. I’m happy to say that folks within and outside my organization regularly turn to me when they need a contact or information from outside their circle. Something that started by growing a network of people I could rely on for my personal, professional needs.

What are you hoping to achieve during your tenure as president for NAMM YP?

I laid out three goals in our first meeting under my presidency. I’ll give you the same list.

Define and expand the benefits of NAMM YP participation: NAMM YP, for many years, had three resources to offer industry professionals under 40: educational events at NAMM Shows, networking events at the shows, and a mentorship program where suitable mentees/mentors are paired together for one year. While all three resources are incredible, I believe we’ve underserved many NAMM Members under 40 years old, especially those that don’t have the opportunity to attend the tradeshows. The reality is, all NAMM Members under 40 are already YP by default. We need to make sure those folks know what we offer and that they’re part of the family. A few of our new initiatives include:

  1. Hosting NAMM YP Roundtable discussions. Much like the NAMM Retail Roundtables, we bring NAMM Members under 40 together to discuss relevant topics to better our professional development and to help grow our respective companies and networks. These will allow us to continue to connect outside of the tradeshows.
  2. We also are starting to communicate with like-minded organizations worldwide to network and share best practices to maximize member benefits.
  3. We are working to facilitate virtual educational events, much like the events we have at the tradeshows. We will invite some of the brightest minds in the industry to pass along knowledge to the next generation of industry professionals, ensuring a successful future.

Expansion of our Mentorship Program: Ryan West, a former NAMM YP President, and I led the charge in getting this program going, and a not-so-small army of past and present board members have helped build it to what it is today. With a few years under our belts and stressing the importance of pairing quality over quantity, the program is ready to expand. Using the model we’ve built, one that works and has produced incredible results, we will be working closely with NAMM staff and other affiliate groups to extend the benefits we’ve created to all NAMM Members. The future leadership of our industry has never been more promising, thanks in part to the NAMM YP Mentorship Program.

Networking. We’re back to where we started! This group and our Board of Directors all exist because of networking. We could add a thousand more resources, but if we lost our focus on networking, the group would fail in purpose. At one point, I wasn’t as fortunate to have the network I have today. My friends introduced me to their friends, and in what felt like a snap of the fingers, I became surrounded by the industry’s most talented people. We need to continue to pass this along to future generations, so introduce yourself and introduce others to your network.

I think all three of these initiatives are attainable, and with the support of the Board, our Members, and countless YP supporters from around the industry in mind, I think we’ll do a lot more over the next couple of years. I’d be remiss in not mentioning the contributions of Presidents and Board Members before me. This group could very well not exist without their dedication. There are too many people to list, but I must give special praises to CJ Averwater, Ryan West, Mark Despotakis, and Jeremy McQueary, all Past Presidents I’ve had the honor of serving alongside on the board of NAMM YP.

What advice do you have for those considering getting involved with NAMM YP?

Don’t hesitate. Reach out - our contact information is available on NAMMYP.org. Follow us on social media, sign-up for the mailing list, attend our events (at the tradeshows and virtually) and consider signing up for mentorship. There’s no better time to get involved than right now. If you feel like you’re not ready or worthy, you’re wrong! There are many young people, just like you, and so many people in the group here to help you. If you feel like you’ve outgrown NAMM YP and that these whippersnappers have nothing to offer you, you’re wrong! Regardless of your experience, education, and position, NAMM YP has like-minded professionals that you can relate to and learn from. To keep it simple, start with a ‘Hello.’

What advice do you have for NAMM Member companies who may be hesitant to have their younger employees participate in NAMM YP?

I’m so glad you asked this question. The executives at The Music People, Sharon, and John Hennessey, were initially hesitant when I asked to get more involved with NAMM YP. They knew my involvement would mean I’d miss some time in our tradeshow booth, I may spend time during my workday on YP-related tasks, and that I’d likely interact with our competitors, which could lead to losing me as a staff member. However, Sharon and John were infinitely wise in trusting they’d get all that back with interest. Here are some of the things our management team recognizes from my involvement:

My professional development: With zero dollars out of pocket, I’m receiving a world-class education from the best minds the industry has to offer, which only benefits our organization.

Our network: It isn’t just my network; it is the company’s network. While it hasn’t been a specific goal, I’ve added countless customers through my networking efforts. I also have contacts that have helped us in making bigger-picture company decisions. Having a large and diverse network outside of your organization is imperative and has an immeasurable value.

Visibility and reputation: While The Music People has demonstrated their support of young people in other ways, their support of my involvement with NAMM YP is publicly known, which sets us apart from many organizations in our industry. It’s not the goal, but a benefit we get to enjoy. It attracts business partners, staff and ultimately strengthens the future of our industry.

Loyalty: I’ll forever be grateful to Sharon, John, and The Music People for allowing me to be involved with YP. It has changed my life, and I know they could have easily said 'No,' but they didn’t. They’ve been incredibly supportive, and that means a great deal.

NAMM Members should not only allow staff under 40 to get involved but go out of their way to recommend the group. By connecting your staff with NAMM YP, you show them you value them and want to help them grow. When you do these types of things for your team, you earn back loyalty. The bonus is you get team members that consistently excel and elevate your organization. If you’re still not convinced, reach out. I’ll be glad to connect you with the management team here at TMP so they can tell you firsthand what kind of impact YP has had on our organization.


For more information about NAMM YP, please visit https://www.namm.org/membership/namm-young-professionals.