NAMM Show exhibits industry optimism, increased attendance

The annual National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show, held in Anaheim, CA, last week, brought encouraging economic news along with its usual spate of new product announcements. Due to the economy, it was known that both square footage and the number of exhibitors would be reduced from 2009 totals. However, when NAMM announced the final attendance, the organization reported 87,569 total registrants, a 2 percent increase from last year.

The NAMM Show not only features a slew of musical instruments, but is also relevant to the broadcast industry due to the pro audio industry presence. Pro audio gear ranging from microphones and wireless systems to mixing consoles, loudspeakers and a wide range of digital and software products were on display. Significantly, many new products announced at NAMM are shipping by the time NAB rolls around in April.

The attendance increase was especially notable in light of the show’s heavy enforcement of “trade-only” rules, with all attendees being asked to show a photo ID every time they entered the hall to maintain the business focus of the convention. Thus, the attendance figures posted are, if anything, conservative. Other encouraging signs included the presence of nearly 250 first-time exhibitors among the total of 1373 manufacturers, the largest-ever increase in that category. International registration experienced a 2 percent decrease.

NAMM is also known for the presence of high-profile musical artists. On hand this year were Quincy Jones and Yoko Ono, who spoke on behalf of the importance of music education for children. Ono also celebrated the 70th anniversary of John Lennon’s birth at a press conference held on the Thursday of the show. Others seen either in live performance or at promotional events included Jason Mraz, Ted Nugent, Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Wonder, Slash, Natalie Cole, Vince Gill and Michael McDonald.

“This year’s NAMM Show marks a critical turning point for the international music products industry,” said NAMM CEO and President Joe Lamond. “A strong NAMM Show signals the beginning of a comeback with buyers returning to their hometowns with renewed energy, passion and hope for a strong 2010, and exhibitors enjoying strong floor traffic and sales as they introduced hundreds of new and innovative products to the market.”