Every year at the end of January, when the weather is cold and unpleasant in Northern Europe, the Music Industry gathers in sunny California for the annual NAMM Show.
This is a trade show like no other, a huge marketplace that takes place at the Convention Center in Anaheim.
It’s the place where manufacturers showcase their latest creations and where retailers are hunting for the latest products to attract new customers. Throw in the mix some world-class artist like Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and Ed Sheeran, along with the wisdom of some highly regarded music industry veterans. Add a bunch of aspiring musicians who are demonstrating new products, stir it up and sprinkle it with live performances and workshops, let it stew for four days and you get the world’s most popular music trade show: The NAMM Show.
Yes, there are other international music trade shows in the world like Musikmesse in Germany and Music China in Shanghai, but none of the shows I have attended over the last 11 years has the vibe and the positivity that the NAMM Show offers.
The warm and sunny weather helps to boost the feeling of an otherwise dull January, but it’s not just the weather. The show is huge, the exhibition space spreads over 92,000 square metres (that's about 23 acres) and there are over7,000 brands represented by over 2,000 exhibiting members and over 115,000 visitors to the show. It’s not just the sheer volume of the show that is impressive. Everything is organised to a high standard, there are volunteers everywhere, they are friendly and happy to help if you get lost in the maze of exhibits, coffee shops, food vans and live events.
The show is a place where all different styles of music, fashion, gender, skin colours and beliefs meet.
I love walking down the aisles of the show, behind a man with a turban and a woman with a French accent, whilst bumping into a heavily tattooed bearded rocker from Norway who tells me how much he loves our gig bags. He, in turn, has just been shaking hands with clean shaved men in suits from Japan, who have just exchanged business cards with a famous female DJ from South America, who gathered a crowd of young musicians around her stage. These happy young musicians are from a local high school and have just performed in a marching band who have rocked the show, and so it goes on.
After the show, you might see all these people sitting together in a drum circle or enjoying a live performance outside the Convention Center or simply queuing for a table at a local restaurant.
I have attended a lot of music trade shows over the past 11 years and haven’t missed many NAMM Shows. After all these years I’ve come to realise that this is so much more than a trade show where people do business. The NAMM Show is a place where you connect with people who you might never talk to in the ‘real world’ but at the show, we all have something in common and that’s the love of music.
We attend the show to connect with customers, meet up with musicians and learn about new products, but the NAMM show is a place that educates us on so many levels. It’s a place of inspiration and diversity. If we could all take a little bit of ‘NAMM’ home with us and spread the Californian sunshine in our society, it would make the world a far better place.
About the Author
Nicole Szekeres is one of the founders of Fusion Bags and the Director of Marketing.
The first ever album she bought was Tracy Chapman. Besides many styles of music Nicole is interested in digital marketing, has a passion for the outdoors and loves espresso.