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NAMM - I wasn't even there!

I didn’t go to NAMM, but taking a look at some of the feedback I think there is a good chance 2024 might be the year to return…. What do you think?

It’s been 4 years since I was last at the NAMM show, one of those was due to the Pandemic and during that time I left to pursue life as Brand and Product Consultant. In fact In January 2019 if you had told me that the world was going to shut down I wouldn’t have believed you. But it did.

Ironically 2019 was the 100th anniversary of the NAMM association (if you discount its previous iteration as the rather long winded, National Piano Manufacturers Association of North America!!!)

Booths like this one from Marshall Amplification and other big brands might be less predominant at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that NAMM isn’t still serving its visitors.

Until the end of last year most of my consulting work has been focused on other market sectors outside of the realms of Mi, and as a result I watched on from the sidelines and wondered if all of the doom and gloom surrounding NAMM was true. From what I can see people’s assumption that the show was dead may have been a little premature, but as with all events the next few years will show how well the organizers will pivot their model to make it work for both Brands and the trade who visit.

I still keep in touch with many people from Mi (and now working with some great brands in preparation for some new launches). The sentiments are that NAMM “isn’t what it once was”. Fortunately it doesn’t seem to have quite succumbed to the tragic fate of MIAC (Canada’s version of NAMM), which when I visited the last show it felt more like a wake. Or perhaps Musikmesse in Frankfurt who stubbornly refused to move the show date to later in the year, only to then loose out to Summer NAMM who sensibly spaced their offering away from the winter show (as the name suggests). To be fair for musicians a visit to Nashville is always going to be preferable to Frankfurt (no offense Frankfurt).

Regional and more specialized events and festivals like country 2 country at the O2 in the UK have seen brands like Marshall, Yamaha and others participate in brand awareness activation's. But nothing on the planet quite represents Mi like the leviathan of NAMM.

But what are people actually saying? Well it seems like those who are networking hard appear to be taking benefits away from the show. While the notable absence of the big brands have had an impact it does seem like the show will indeed go on, and perhaps some of the brands making the effort to attend will reap the benefits of others refusal to exhibit.

Just for the sake of personal curiosity I thought it might be interesting to see just how many exhibitors were at the show. With that in mind my inner voice got the better of me and I ended up going back all the way to 2013, a whole 10 years to see if the doom and gloom was really a reflection of reality. As you can see below it makes for interesting reading.

Excuse the terrible excel graph but it makes for intriguing viewing. Between 2013 and 2018 NAMM saw an increase of around 33% in the number of exhibitors. Whether I believe the published equal number of exhibitors in 2018 and 2019 I am not sure, but since coming back from its “virtual show” (which I have counted as having 0 exhibitors) and post pandemic the increase in exhibitors is 20%.

By now there are probably people yelling at their screens “the numbers are not true, the calculations are too simplistic. You didn’t see the show so you can’t comment”. Well perhaps some or all of that is true, however…. NAMM returns to its regular scheduled January slot, in its regular scheduled location for 2024. I hope they achieve the same 20% increase in 2024 from this year’s exhibitors list. Then they will be just 160 short of the number that were at the 2013 show, and I don’t recall anyone complaining the show was empty then! If they also see a good footfall of visitors, then perhaps the demise of the mighty NAMM show isn’t quite how many have predicted. Let’s hope not anyway, I miss it and with any luck next year you will catch me wandering the halls doing Mi “stuff”

About the Author:

Luke Green works as a brand consultant and product consultant for UK Based Ballistica LTD as well as serving as a Non Executive Director with a variety of companies from various industries. With a long history in the Music industry working with Marshall Amplification he is passionate about ensuring products and services reflecting the needs and expectations of end users. If your brand wants to explore moving forward, developing or evolving your product portfolio, or perhaps you are looking at launching a new brand to market, then Ballistica can provide a free discovery consultation to establish what could work for you.



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