NAMM Convention Update (A Print Music Perspective)

by Mike Watson, Remenyi House of MusicMike Watson R2 For print music specialists, one of the advantages of attending a large-scale trade show is the perspective it can bring to our own niche market, along with a valuable opportunity to monitor developments in the larger music products industry. The 2016 NAMM Show (held January 21-24) boasted 101,736 registrants and 1,726 exhibiting companies. How did print music fit into this, the largest music products gathering on the continent? NAMMRight out of the gate, it was given centre-stage treatment during the opening day ‘Breakfast of Champions’ session when NAMM President & CEO Joe Lamond spoke with Hal Leonard President Larry Morton. With the theme of ‘game-changers’ in the industry, the conversation touched on the beginnings of the company’s Digital Retailer program, the extension of traditional print using modern technology, and the advantages of an efficient distribution model. You can view the complete interview here. It’s also worth noting that the print music community has been well-represented on the NAMM Board of Directors in recent years. While the terms of Ron Manus (Alfred Music) and Gayle Beacock (Beacock Music) have now concluded, the election of Myrna Sislen (Middle C Music) will surely help to keep our favourite product category front & centre in the discussion. Given the small number of publishers exhibiting on the show floor, product interest seemingly remains strong. This is possibly due to the realisation among savvy Alfred boothbuyers that these products can profitably support almost every other category in the industry. Alfred Music (premiering a New York-themed booth design), the Hal Leonard Corporation, and the Music Sales Group each presented substantial exhibits, and the evolving role of print music was in evidence at all three booths. In spite of the availability of free instructional material on YouTube, the rise of the IMSLP as a go-to classical music repository, and other technology challenges facing our industry, print music retains the potential to continue serving the needs of music makers; whether progressive educator, technology-addicted student, 21st century performer or the elusive ‘other 90%’ our industry is constantly romancing. It’s clear that the modern musician-consumer will increasingly employ technology to both learn and create music, and the publishers & retailers that understand this new customer will be best-positioned to serve their needs into the future. We’re far from outright replacing the physical with the digital, as traditional print continues to be enhanced with technology in effective ways HL BoothAnd in addition to the California weather, one of the attractions of this event is the enormous number of performances that occur through all hours of the day. A fair amount of star power is typically on display, but those who found themselves in the lobby of the Anaheim Hilton on Friday evening were treated to the triumphant return of Printz (including both current & past RPMDAers). Following the RPMDA convention (April 27-30), Summer NAMM returns to Nashville June 23-25.