Part of my New Year’s Resolutions are to take advantage of the many invitations I get to attend various events and cover them for the blog. The very first event I’ve been able to attend this year happened this past weekend in Anehiem California. The NAMM Conference caters to Musicians and “gear heads” but I can honestly tell you the place was absolutely packed with people from all walks of life interested not only in music but technology. Since the urban radio and music industry is bascially dead when it comes to conferences, I can honestly tell you that you are MISSING a LOT of valuable information because of it. I was only at the event for the last two days and the first day I had to relearn a very valuable lesson. ALWAYS wear EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE SHOES when walking exhibit floor space. I cannot tell you how much my feet ached by the time the day was over because I wore boots (duh) but I had to see as much as I could see and to say that I was a kid in a candy store is an understatement. One of the first things that happened was I saw George Benson casually walking around looking at the gear and before I could absorb that, I was blown away by the DJ equipment displays. I have a great respect for mix and club Radio DJs because I witnessed how programmers ignored them when I was rising through the ranks of radio. They created their own industry and now they need programmers about as much as urban radio needs more syndicated programming. In addition, the suburban kids have a great affinity for DJ equipment which is commercializing the industry but I still like playing with the gadgets myself and this was the most exciting part of the conference for me. My ex boss Stevie Wonder came through and I was blown away by the people who were blown away by him. The musicians of all colors have an incredible respect for him.
Stevie spent most of his time admiring the keyboard equipment and talking to Monster’s Noel Lee. It always amazes me how people just stand there and look at people like Lee and they are terrified to go up and say anything. He appeared to be extremely approachable. I wanted to ask him about the recent departure of Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine from the company but I didn’t get a chance too. I did talk to reps from Monster about it who informed me the company was in a great position to proceed forth and they were not affected by the change at all.
I am not a religious person but I love to hear great signing and Israel Houghton did an AMAZING set on Sunday morning to a crowded audience of people from all walks of life who wanted to get their dose of church.
The DJ equipment displays were outrageous. The trend for DJ equipment is surging and I noticed a lot of kids were there learning as much as they could. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING is marketed to work with the iPod, iPad and Macs, I don't think I saw one single display that targeted windows. Without question the Mac is the choice for those involved in any kind of music and some of the high end gadgets for DJs integrated incredibly well with iPads and iPods.
The Hot Zone was the section that hosted all of the great panels. Even though I only caught the last two days of the conference, the panels were informative and very well attended and there was something for everyone.
Some of the seminars were uniquely honest. This one basically told people that doing retail for music was basically not a money maker anymore and good luck finding funding. They offered options to selling product however to those interested in the packed room.
Here are some random pics of the displays at the event...