CARLSBAD, Calif., July 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As market confidence builds, the music industry arrived in Nashville, July 9-11, hungry for new products and ideas. Double-digit growth in Summer NAMM exhibitors, thousands of products, rocking events and countless educational offerings converged for NAMM's largest mid-year gathering in seven years. While business was the focus, no one failed to mention Nashville's music scene as the perfect opportunity to connect with friends.
"With a tremendous respect for our industry's hand-crafted traditions combined with an exciting look to the future of music and audio, this Summer NAMM was perhaps the most important (and the most fun!) in recent memory," said Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM. "The NAMM team was grateful for the opportunity to serve and hopes that this event helped our members prepare for a successful fall and holiday selling season."
A Can't Miss Event
A theme repeated by members throughout the show was that they never miss NAMM's summer gathering. And many first time attendees said that they'll never miss another. The reason? All pointed to the event's perfect blend of business and catching up with friends set to Music City's one of a kind soundtrack.
"I couldn't imagine not coming to this show. We have at least 20 people here – buyers, sales management, marketing including people creating web content," Chuck Surack, president and founder of Sweetwater Sound. "And I love Nashville. At this show I spend quality time with products and vendors, really getting to talk with people, friends." Stopped mid-aisle while searching out new products Surack added, "Our roots are in pro audio, so we're looking there, but we sold 75,000 guitars last year and this year we're on track to sell more – so we're also looking at lots of guitars."
This year's Summer NAMM saw another increase in exhibiting companies, making it the largest mid-year event since 2006. By the time doors opened Thursday morning, 494 exhibiting companies representing more than 1,600 brands were set up and ready for business.
The number of buyers attending Summer NAMM increased another 3% over 2014, which saw 8% growth over 2013. Most significant was an increase in the number of buying firms, which was up 26% contributing to the strong buying power and diversity in buying audiences noted by exhibitors. In total 13,936 people registered for Summer NAMM, a 13% increase over 2014.
Summer NAMM's more intimate vibe makes it the perfect place for new brands' first introduction to the market. Knowing that, experienced buyers build on relationships with their established vendors, but leave plenty of time to search out new brands. "I come here because I'm hoping to find that next guy, that next Gibson, that next Fender, that next JBL, Electrovoice. Somebody who's got a 10x10 booth but with a great idea. I always want to find that little niche guy that may one day be something, and I'll be able to say, 'I found him,'" said Sammy Ash, Sam Ash Music Corporation. "Plus, I've got a lot of friends here. I get to see them twice a year sometimes and this is one of the places."
One hundred companies including Studio Linked VST, Ortega Guitars, OwnPhones, Pedalboard Supplies and Bugera made their Summer NAMM debuts. Another 65 companies returned to the show after a hiatus from exhibiting including Orange Amplification, Peavey Electronics Corp. and Alesis.
"Casio attends Summer NAMM because it is the kick off for holiday sales and should be attended by all independent dealers in preparation for the holidays," said Stephen Schmidt, Vice President of Musical Instruments Division at Casio America, Inc. "It's the perfect opportunity to meet with a large number of our dealers in one short period. We were able to review new products, discuss holiday promotions and get feedback en masse at a reasonable expense, compared to visiting each of the accounts individually. I look forward to Summer NAMM continuing to grow and expand."
And buyers arrive to find deals that will help them maximize profits in the holiday season. "We do our buying for our fall school rental season and for our Christmas season here. So we are here placing orders," said Aubrey Carwile, of Gwinnett Discount Music in Lawrenceville, GA. "We saw a lot of new things, and of course this is the time of year we get to meet all of our suppliers and get their best deals."
Many manufacturers took advantage of the mid-year event to release new products that traditionally would have come out at the January NAMM Show, allowing them to profit from the upcoming holiday season. Attending Summer NAMM for the first time in five years, Zildjian's return came down to timing. "We were ready to launch new products right now, so the timing was perfect," said Dan Wiseman, director of brand activation for Zildjian.
In an effort to reach the growing music technology audience now gathering at Summer NAMM and debut new products, Roland Corp. U.S. doubled their presence expanding demos beyond guitar-related products to also include keyboards, V-Drums, DJ and modular gear. "The timing is allowing us to debut products here that we'd traditionally have held for later in the cycle," said Chris Halon, director of marketing for Roland.
Technology Meets Music
This year's show saw a significant 23% uptick in music technology companies. "Summer NAMM is a lot bigger and better this year. I'm in the pro audio part of our business, so it's great to see more pro audio exhibitors. I'm very pleased with what's happening at the show," said Ray Arsenault, Corner Music, Nashville, TN.
Part of the growing interest in Summer NAMM from the technology segment can be traced to the debut of TEC Tracks. The new technology-focused educational offerings for recording, live sound and music industry professionals spanned all three days of the show. A highlight was Saturday's keynote with A3E hosted by Microsoft highlighting The Future of Audio: Harnessing the Power of MI & New Technology.
"The audio component is visibly growing at this show," said Grant Buro, president of Pro Audio Partners in Savannah, GA. "It's easier to get around this year, and there are more pro audio vendors. It's good to see the show growing."
Connecting with Friends
Wednesday evening's opening party, Insight has become a beloved tradition as country music icon Vince Gill and Two Old Hippies' founder Tom Bedell combine musical performances and insider stories on music making. Nashville's Tim Akers & The Smoking Section, a band featuring some of the best session musicians in Music City, kept the crowd rocking well into Wednesday night.
Then on Friday night, the music industry gathered to celebrate the world's best retailers at NAMM's Top 100 Dealer Awards. With CMT's Cody Alan hosting, NAMM awarded seven retailers in 'Best Of' categories and crowned the 2015 Dealer of the Year. Musical Innovations of Greenville, SC took home the Dealer of the Year honor. Owner Tracy Leenman graciously shared the credit with her team, "All of the credit for this award goes to my staff, they are truly amazing people."
Throughout the show the NAMM Acoustic Nation Stage featured acoustic performances by dozens of artists including breakout country star Dustin Lynch, mash-up queen Louisa Wendorff, Tony Lucca of The Voice fame, Sabrina Lentini and more.
The global music products industry gathers next in Anaheim, January 21-24, 2016 for the NAMM Show. NAMM member registration and housing for the 2016 NAMM Show open July 29, 2015. Make note that next year Summer NAMM returns a few weeks earlier to Music City on June 23-25, 2016.
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is the not-for-profit association with a mission to strengthen the $17 billion music products industry. NAMM is comprised of approximately 9,900 member companies located in 102 countries. NAMM events and members fund The NAMM Foundation's efforts to advance active participation in music making across the lifespan. For more information about NAMM, please visit www.namm.org, call 800.767.NAMM (6266) or follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
HIGH QUALITY IMAGES* from Summer NAMM for your editorial use:
DAY 1 Images - Thursday, July 9 at Summer NAMM: Vince Gill, establishing shots, show floor, doing business
DAY 3 Images – Saturday, July 11 at Summer NAMM: Dustin Lynch, American Eagle Awards, World's Fastest Drummer, Tony Lucca, Music Industry Day
* Photo credit "Getty Images for NAMM"
NAMM Public Relations Director