2019 RPMDA Convention Highlights

by Christie Smith, Alfred Music

What a convention!! San Diego is a beautiful city and is the home of NAMM headquarters and Kjos Publishing. Both companies were the perfect hosts to our members and put together once in a lifetime special events for us. If you missed it, be sure to put next year on your calendar right away because this board is knocking it out of the park!

This year’s program was full great ideas and inspiration. The opening session featured an inspiring and interesting interview of our friend Joe Lamond from NAMM. The closing general session was another rare opportunity to hear from Music Inc.’s Frank Alkyre, who talked about his life behind the scenes at Music Inc. magazine and shared great ideas on how newsletters, articles, and magazines can make a big difference to your business if you are telling your story well. During our Saturday breakfast session, Dan Del Fiorentino from NAMM put together videos of session musicians and hilarious drummer jokes straight from the mouths of famous drummers – a most fitting honor for our illustrious president, David Jahnke. Our breakouts covered the gamut of music retailing. There were sessions on the power of telling your impact and aligning your business with causes that inspire your staff and connect with your community. There were sessions in marketing, tax laws, , displays, music education advocacy, finding your value proposition, and copyright and fair use. There was a three-part lecture on marketing to the generations, social media and Instagram and interesting panel discussions and stories of success. Honestly, I could go on and on. Absolutely great sessions of high value for owners, managers, buyers and employees.

The Power Hours are an extremely effective way for publishers and dealers to connect. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in a 10 minutes. Some tables talked about new product and technology, and some talked about ways to improve business. Spark time slots allowed us to have deeper discussions.

There were several amazing tour and event opportunities for our attendees this year. First, NAMM gave us a very rare tour of the incredible NAMM Museum and topped it off with a delicious dinner from a top-notch taco truck and some great music. The museum was BEAUTIFUL!! I really had no idea how extensive and complete this collection was, a step by step tour of the evolution of Music Making, and what a story it tells! So unique and interesting. It made us feel proud to be part of this great industry.

Next, we were given a treat of a lifetime by the Neil A. Kjos Music Company. They sponsored a box for all of us to go to the San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers game. Oh my gosh, it has RUINED me for regular seats. Beautiful weather, yummy food and drinks all night. What an event, and to share it with my RPMDA pals made it even better!

After the convention closed, there was a whale watching cruise that some of our members took advantage of, and some – not naming names (from Alfred) spent it in the back being sick. A gorgeous day to see lovely San Diego and its marine life up close and personal.

Topping off the event was our closing night, nautical-themed banquet. Delicious food, awards, great music and games. The award winners this year were Lori Supinie from Senseney Music, for the Dorothy award which is the RPMDA lifetime achievement award. Christie Smith from Alfred Music for the Sandy Feldstein Service Award and Tim Cose from Hal Leonard for the Don Eubanks Sales Rep of the Year award. Breitkopft and Haertel was awarded recognition by NAMM for their 300th anniversary and acknowledging them as the very first music publisher ever!

I talked to many people at the event and was especially taken by how new attendees were affected by such a great convention. Events like this change them, and they left feeling like this is an incredible industry in which to build a career. They made great connections to a strong community, found mentors and filled their heads with profit-making ideas. I found this group of first timers were particularly involved and keen.

This industry, like so many, is changing all the time. To hear these sessions and see the strong music businesses that attend, we know there is a solid future for the print music industry, even as it changes and begins to look different. We know that the businesses that are members of this great group and who come to this convention leave with exactly the tools they need to be one of the many success stories.

We need industry resources like the RPMDA convention more than ever, so my parting advice is for you to renew your RPMDA membership today, and if you don’t have one, sign up and give it a try! Next years convention is in New Orleans in 2020, April 30th to May 3rd. If you are in the business of selling print music, this is not a convention to be missed!