Summer NAMM Show In Decline

The 2007 Summer NAMM Show has wrapped up, and while there was some interesting new gear introduced, the show itself seems to be in decline.

Attendance at the annual summer event is in freefall, with only 12,845 people attending. This is a significant drop from 2006, which had a much lower attendance than 2005.

NAMM is putting a positive spin on it, noting that fewer people and fewer exhibitors meant that there was still a decent buyer-to-seller ratio.

“For the thousands of NAMM Members that made the commitment to come to Austin this year, most reported a positive business experience,” said Joe Lamond, NAMM president and CEO. “Many dealers told us they enjoyed the slower-paced quality time with their suppliers and peers to build relationships that are important and necessary for future business endeavors.”

Lamond continued, “NAMM remains true to our guiding principle that as long as there are NAMM Members who want and need this show to keep their businesses strong and growing, NAMM will continue to provide the venue. For us, producing this show is a service decision, not a financial decision. NAMM will announce the timing and location of the 2008 Summer NAMM event in August.”

A few years ago, NAMM switched from holding its Summer Show in Nashville to moving it around, which may have hurt attendance. Some people are more comfortable returning to a place that they know already, instead of having to make their way around an unfamiliar town.

Summer NAMM in Austin suffers from the fact that the weather is usually very hot, and Austin’s not at its peak because school isn’t in session.

The biggest thing hurting Summer NAMM, though, is the small number of interesting introductions. Much of the news from the show is that companies are shipping the items they introduced at the Winter NAMM Show.

We’d like to see NAMM work harder to get new, smaller companies to the Summer Show, to make it more of an alternative to the larger show. Unless NAMM makes some changes, it’s likely that its Summer Show will fade away before too long.

4 thoughts on “Summer NAMM Show In Decline

  1. Apparently the Summer NAMM show and the real estate business have something in common. The three most important elements are location, location and location. 2004 Summer show in Nashville drew 23,198 registrants. 2005 in Indianapolis dropped to 20,082, 2006 in Austin dropped further to 17,207 and 2007’s show drew only 12,845 (figures are from NAMM website).
    Nashville hosted Summer NAMM from 1993-2004 with great success, growing the show to a viable alternative to the Anaheim show for east coast dealers. The west coast has the Anahein show. Many retailers regard the summer show as the east coast show. Nashville is much more of a central location to the east coast than Austin.
    Yes, the convention center in Austin is much larger and nicer than the one in Nashville. What are NAMM members saying, though? 23,198 to 12,845 in three years- the numbers make it abundantly clear that Nashville is their choice.

  2. Jones

    Great comment!

    When you look at the numbers like that, it almost looks like NAMM is trying to kill the Summer Show.

    Something that’s hard to quantify, though, is the effect of the Web on shows like NAMM. Sites like Synthtopia, Sonic State & Harmony Central try to get the most interesting gear news out as quickly as possible, which may make having a physical Show less interesting to people in the music industry.

    On the other hand, we’d love to see NAMM turn this around. There’s few things cooler than going to a good NAMM Show, and having cool music gear and software from all over the world in one place.

    I hope that they can find a way to turn around the Summer NAMM Show soon, because they can’t last much longer like this.

  3. NAMM synthtopia

    I appreciate your reply and I do agree that the web has an effect. Much information gathering and even shopping can now be done from the comfort and ease of one’s own computer keyboard. Is the web responsible for a nearly 50% decline in registration form the 2004 show to the 2007 show? Doubtful. Will the web make physical shows such as the summer NAMM obsolete? Doubtful here, too. Is the web a powerful addition to music marketing? Without a doubt!
    Yes, NAMM shows have traditionally been the place and time to introduce new gear. NAMM shows are about much more than introducing new gear, though.
    Playing and creating music remains largely a hands-on experience. If you are thinking of taking on a new guitar line, band instrument line, etc., there is no substitute for actually playing those instruments. Sure- it’s great to read about new recording gear on the web, but actually seeing it and using it while talking to the manufacturer is much better.
    NAMM is also a great educational experience. Where else can retailers from all over the world get together to compare notes? The seminars NAMM offers are outstanding, as are the clinics and performances. It is difficult to leave a NAMM show without feeling pumped up about music and the music business.
    I hope and truly believe that NAMM is not trying to rid itself of the summer show. It is a very important part of what NAMM does and reaches many merchandisers who do not go to the Anaheim show. Many retailers prefer the summer show because it allows them the opportunity to stock up and take on new lines for the fall rental and Christmas shopping seasons. Many appreciated Nashville because it is first and foremost a great music town (as is Austin) and it is also a one day drive for much of the East coast (Austin is not).
    Location, location, location. NAMM members liked Nashville. They said so by growing the show nearly every year. With substantial declines in attendance, they have demonstrated that they do not like Indianapolis or Austin.
    Does NAMM view the winter show as the west coast show and the summer show as the east coast show? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the summer show should be held in Anaheim just as the winter show is.
    If you gotta get on a plane, you may as well head to California instead of Texas. Hmmm… AAMM show (Anaheim Association of Music Merchandisers)

  4. jones1054

    I agree with you totally about the benefits of having a physical show – but I don’t think Summer NAMMs problem is just its location. The Summer Show also hasn’t been that interesting recently, because there’s a lot fewer real introductions at the show.

    It may make sense to take the show back to Nashville. But NAMM also needs to find ways to reach out to companies and get them interested in introducing stuff at Summer NAMM.

    Summer NAMM offers an opportunity for companies not to get lost in the vastness that is the Winter NAMM Show. Maybe NAMM should play this up and get more of the smaller companies that don’t show at Winter NAMM to participate at the Summer Show. I’d love to see NAMM create focus areas at Summer NAMM where individuals and small companies could get a small part of a larger booth that focuses on a topic area, like analog synth gear or Internet music sites.

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