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What's NAMM all about?
©1997, Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, updated 1/21/02

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WHAT IS NAMM?

NAMM is the National Association of Music Merchants, whose mission is to "strengthen and unify the music products industry and increase the number of active music makers." In addition to many functions within the music industry, they hold a twice-yearly trade show known officially as the NAMM International Music Market, and simply called the NAMM Show. Music product manufacturers and distributors exhibit their merchandise to wholesale buyers with the intent of writing sales.

WHEN AND WHERE IS NAMM?

Currently, NAMM's "Winter Market" is held in January at the Anaheim Convention Center, a little south of Los Angeles. (From 1998 to 2000, it was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.) The "Summer Session" is held in July at the Nashville Convention Center.

WHO CAN ATTEND?

Retail music store buyers, music product manufacturers/distributors, manufacturer representatives of the music products industry, their employees and guests, NARAS (the Grammys organization) members, and NAMM employees, guests and invited media personnel.

WHO'S WHO AT THE SHOW?

Everyone attending or exhibiting at NAMM wears a badge with their name and company affiliation on it. The color and status named on the badge quickly identifies the person wearing it. The most common are: Exhibitor - red, Buyer - blue, Visitor - Yellow, and Media - white/clear. Note that lending of badges occurs frequently, and people often have somebody else's name on the badge they are wearing.

HOW CAN I GET A BADGE?

According to NAMM's literature, the Shows "are closed to the public." However, if you endorse an exhibiting company, know someone in that company, or know anyone else who is attending, you can try requesting a badge. And, if you can show employment by music-related company that's a member of NAMM, you can fill out a form at the Show and purchase a badge for $25. If you're employed by a music-related company that's not a NAMM member, the registration fees are: retail - $100, manufacturer - $150, "other" (such as the music media) - $150. Proof of your affiliation is always required.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT IF I GET IN?

You'll see a lot of new products, new finishes, new literature, and some celebrities. However, the NAMM Show is not a giant music store. Some exhibitors sell their products right out of their booth, some don't, and samples are usually reserved for Buyers. You may score a good deal on a large item, but you might have to wait until the last day of the show to pick it up, so they can continue displaying it during the show.

The Anaheim show is huge, so wear comfortable shoes. If you plan to have a snack at one of the concession stands, figure about $10 for a sandwich, chips, and drink. Parking is $8 per day.

BERMUDA'S RECOMMENDATIONS:

If you do get a badge and attend the show, act accordingly. Remember that it's a trade show - not a consumer show like PASIC - and Exhibitors expect to write business with the attending Buyers. Legitimate Buyers would never bang on drums and crank up amps for their personal pleasure, so avoid being conspicuous that way. If you've borrowed a badge from someone, don't do anything that would embarass or cause a problem for the person and company whose names appears on the badge. If a complaint is lodged with NAMM against the owner of the badge - and that DOES happen when an attendee is disruptive - the flow of badges slows down, and it's even tougher for the "nice guys" to come back again.

The type of badge you wear may govern the treatment you receive from the Exhibitors. Wearing an Exhibitor badge in a rival manufacturer's booth may earn you a question or two about who you are, and Visitor and Media badges are kind of neutral; the Exhibitors are there primarily to see Buyers, and may not always be overly-friendly to fellow Exhibitors or guests. By the same token, if you are seeking products to endorse, you will probably be asked to submit your information by mail following the end of the Show. Exhibitors rarely talk about artist discounts and freebies, when they're trying to meet with Buyers and generate solid sales.

Going to the NAMM Show should be considered a treat. Enjoy yourself and please respect the business being conducted there.


Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, the drummer with "Weird Al" Yankovic since 1980, has attended nearly every Winter Market NAMM Show since 1985 as the guest of one or more of the following exhibitors: DW, Impact, Mainline, Remo, Rhythm Tech, and Sabian.

 

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