NAMM Insights: The Network Effect Of MI And Pro Audio

What's next? Those that come to the show have the best chance to set trends rather than follow them. Can you afford to miss out?
The 2023 NAMM Show is slated for April 13–15 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

I’m not just a marketer at NAMM. I’m a producer, engineer, guitarist, keyboardist, and former tour manager. When I work The NAMM Show, I always carve out a little “me time.” That’s the time when I walk the floor to find the next big thing, or rather, the next big network of things.

Too often companies can focus on making their products ideal for one group — the synth for all synthheads. But producers like me, who grew up working on laptops, look for ecosystems. It’s all about finding novel ways to connect two bits of gear to create a brand-new sound.

That’s part of why I love The NAMM Show and am really looking forward to the next edition of the show coming up this April. There I can find a synth that sounds great running into my guitar pedals, which then feed my 500-series pre-amp into my DAW and an awesome plugin I found at Software.NAMM. The sum of this gear becomes greater than its parts — and only at The NAMM Show can I find all those parts.

Put another way, a show that is too focused on one product community misses how music is actually being created in the real world. As more musicians rely on their DAW to run their live sets, the possibilities for MIDI-controlled everything continues to rise. That’s why NAMM and the MIDI Association are such kindred spirits and frequent collaborators. MIDI was introduced at The NAMM Show back in the 1980s, and to this day, it drives much of the synergy across the product communities at the show (including the awesome MIDI Showcase that houses some off-the-wall gear).

Looking Ahead

But what’s next? MIDI 2.0 is one answer. Other innovations like digitally controlled analogue gear or immersive audio have ramifications far beyond the pro audio world. Only through a large and diverse marketplace can manufacturers and retailers see the ways that seemingly disparate innovations can influence their own.

As a weekend-warrior record producer, I have my own laundry list of dream gear. Some of it might not be invented yet. For example, how awesome would an immersive audio synth be, especially one running into a recording interface that can handle those inputs — all highlighted by a truly ambisonic IR reverb? I realize that’s a lot of jargon, but that’s what the producers and engineers across the world are looking for today. We’ll spend a lot of money for the right tools because they set our sounds apart. Mixing and production have never been closer, and finding the right sonics can be the difference between the calls.

What manufacturer will identify these needs and make these tools? What retailer will carry and recommend them? Those that come to the show have the best chance to set trends rather than follow them. After all, they can talk to the best producers and engineers in the game. And as we know, early movers on technological innovation can quickly upset pre-existing market share. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the past few years, it’s that the future is not easily predicted, and overconfidence is not often rewarded.

Innovation comes from our periphery, from imagination, and not repetition. At The 2022 NAMM Show, I was chatting with Sounwave, producer for Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, SZA, etc., as we toured the synth, software, and pro audio sections of the show floor. He shared new ways that he was using familiar products on hit records. In some cases, the booth staff had already left the floor for dinner, missing out on a chance to get direct feedback on surprising use-cases of their products. Others stuck around and got to chat, kicking off new product innovations with this free market research from an industry leader. In my opinion, the ROI on that is immeasurable.

Additional Opportunities

This also presents an opportunity for retail. The reality is that I was a buyer, an influencer, a creator, and a musician, and I still am. At the show, retailers can meet their A-list customers as well as their manufacturers. Isn’t that incredibly valuable? Not only will you see the future of products, but you’ll also understand how they’re being used to create, and how to best sell to these groups through NAMM U education.

Additionally, more students than ever are attending the show. This enterprising next generation will make our industry younger and more diverse. The companies that attend the show have access to these future leaders, providing them mentorship. An intern you meet on the show floor might be your CEO someday. The investment in the show isn’t just an investment in yearly sales; it’s bigger than that. And students, be sure to register. It’s a worldwide job fair, and you’re allowed in.

My central recommendation is for us as an industry to look for new collaboration points across all of these product types, and pioneer new ways to pull innovation from one hall into another. Only at the show can we grasp the scale and scope of change throughout our sector and beyond.

Now is our chance to break down barriers. And it’s imperative. As the stimulus dries up, our industry needs innovation to power our next chapter. Investing in the future, however nebulous, is the best way to stay nimble and relevant. When you make the choice whether to attend or exhibit in 2023, I only ask: Can you afford to miss out?

Registration is open now on I hope to meet and share in your experience at the show this April 13–15, 2023 at the Anaheim Convertion Center.


Events Top Stories