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Attendance, energy, optimism high at NAMM

The National Association of Music Merchants Show (NAMM), Jan. 14-17, experienced a 2 percent increase in attendance while recording a 8.8 percent decrease in exhibitor participation compared to the 2009 NAMM Show.

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The main level of the NAMM show floor was packed from opening to close. Photo by John Stewart

Held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Orange County, Calif., the NAMM Show attracted 87,569 registered attendees this year compared to 85,799 registrants for the 2009 show. International attendee registration experienced a 2 percent decrease from last year. NAMM recorded 1,373 exhibitors for this year’s show compared to 1,505 exhibitors in 2009. There were nearly 250 new exhibitors – a new record in the event’s 108-year history. Exhibitors consisted of musical instrument and products retailers and manufacturers from around the world. A trade-only event, The NAMM Show draws the Anaheim Convention Center’s highest annual attendance.


“The industry lost a decade of sales growth in the past year,” said Joe Lamond, NAMM president and CEO, in Upbeat, NAMM’s Friday show daily magazine. “We were about a $6 billion industry in 2000, and we’re probably right at that level now.”

Themed “Get Ready,” this year’s NAMM Show focused on the ingenuity and optimism, reportedly the recurring traits that have kept many NAMM members moving a step ahead of the economic domino effect.

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“The activity here in our booth has been fabulous,” said Peter Anderson, principal of Anderson Group International, LLC, a firm specializing in musical instrument insurance for musicians, dealers and collectors. “We have multiple people working our booth, and it is all we can do to keep up. This is our second year at NAMM and we are very happy to be here and will be very happy to come back next year.”

“The show has been great,” said Kristina Hodgson, senior channel marketing specialist for Shure Inc. “We have been packed like crazy since the show opened… Lots of great questions, lots of people being interested in our product, trying things out. It’s been a great show.”

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Freeman rigger Daniel Vanslyke guides a hanging sign into position. Photo by John Stewart

Guistar Picks has been attending NAMM for four years and founder and CEO Mark Aletto said he couldn’t afford to miss NAMM as it is a unique opportunity to network and connect with his target market – guitar players. Guistar Picks manufactures, among other things, custom guitar picks embossed with a musician’s fingerprint, allowing for a better grip on the pick. In addition, musicians can purchase the custom picks as promotional items.

“We facilitate a connection between artist and fan, and there is no better place for us to connect with artists than NAMM,” Alletto added.

There seemed to be energy, enthusiasm and optimism bouncing off the wall of the convention center. Perhaps it was the vibrating Latin rhythms of Carlos Santana emanating from the Latin Percussion exhibit or the piercing solo by composer and saxophonist Tim Reis radiating from the RS Berkeley Band Inc. Instrument Co. exhibit. But it could be the energy of the rebounding economy and the resurgence of the exhibit industry, because if show attendance rebounds, an increase in exhibitor attendance will soon follow.

Aleta Walther is a Southern California-based marketing communications professional and freelance writer with several years experience as a corporate exhibit manager. Contact Aleta at aw@waltherstewart.com.

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