Start Future-Proofing Your Business at The 2020 NAMM Show

In the last five years alone, we’ve seen nothing short of a retail reinvention. Look no further than the growth of subscription models, the sharing economy, even augmented reality as a way to supplement the in-store experience. (I think of Ikea’s app, which lets you preview how furniture will look in your living space.) Point blank, consumer expectations have changed. And The NAMM Show is your resource to navigate this new normal—an immersion into trends, ideas and contacts to better position your business to thrive.

Four days at NAMM go by fast, though. Given that, here are a few insider tips to navigate the show and make the most of your 31 hours in Anaheim.

1. Develop direct relationships with your vendors. The NAMM Show is your once-a-year opportunity to connect with leadership at the brands you carry. But exhibitors are often booked solid by the time the show kicks off. Whenever possible, set up appointments with current and prospective vendors beforehand. I can’t tell you what a difference this will make.

2. See No. 1. (I can’t stress this enough—start booking those appointments now!)

3. Expand your professional network. The NAMM Show has no lack of opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with your peers. The NAMM YP Reception and Women @ NAMM events are free, open to members and fertile ground to develop your network. Plus, new NAMM members can check out the New Member Reception on Wednesday evening before the show.

4. Get new ideas to solve pressing business issues. Start planning with The NAMM Show education schedule. We’ve organized the education programs on the NAMM website and app by program and topic (music retail, audio production and so forth). This makes navigating hundreds of sessions intuitive, so you can easily curate an education schedule for your specific goals.

5. Think beyond your current objectives. The NAMM Show is a playground for discovering new ideas, and you never know where your next opportunity might come from. I’ve heard from retailers who said they picked up creative inspiration from a record producer speaking at TEC Tracks or a discussion on future-forward music-making technologies at A3E sessions. Likewise, the Pro Production and ESTA-curated educational sessions will unveil the world of stage lighting and entertainment tech—and new concepts to grow your enterprise.

6. Find your next best-seller. If you can't get an appointment with an exhibitor, you can still stop by to check out their products. And don’t be shy about asking questions. That’s why brands are there.

7. Connect with experts and your global business community.

Here’s a hack: Stick around if presenters are available after their education sessions. Even if you don’t have a specific question for the presenter, you’ll usually be surrounded by like-minded peers facing similar business issues as you—again, another networking opportunity. I’ve seen lifelong friendships, and profitable business ideas, form this way.

We can’t wait to see you in Southern California!

Zach Phillips