NAMM 2016 – Opening Day

NAMM 2016 opens: more creativity, more technology, more global search for new business models.

While the highlight of the day was the Music Life Award given to Graham Nash at the NAMM Breakfast of Champions and his concert in the evening at the Nissan Stage, a walk through the miles of aisles of NAMM 2016 offered a glimpse of where the creative side of music is heading. Technologies abounded, even more than usual. From ever more sophisticated and compact lighting and sound systems, to guitar accessories and larger pedal  boxes to hold them and power supplies to run them and instruments that made sound from touch and movement, the engineering side of live music was definitely cutting edge.

NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond and Mayor of Hamamatsu Japan Yasutomo Suzuki

But just plain – and many fancy – instruments also held sway.  Joining the kings of guitar making – Fender and Gibson, were many fine guitar makers, each with display walls of different models and  expert players to demonstrate them or enjoy the hands-on testing that often became jams.  Same with drums, brass, violins, pianos, and keyboards.

Attendees were also able to get their hands on instruments from around the world, as international manufacturers dominated parts of NAMM Show, especially China, Argentina and Germany. A lush room of Latin drums with a wall of cajons throbbed all day as percussion artists sampled the gear.  A quiet room with thick carpets, a Champagne bar  and white leather couches displayed grand, baby grand and upright pianos as well as keyboards from Japan, China, Europe, and the US drew both pop and classical players.

Billy Corgon – vocalist and founder of Smashing Pumpkins

The hundreds of business workshops and presentations on market music touched in one way or another on the shifts taking place in the music industry, primarily from physical and downloads to streaming and the pressure this puts on artists and how that will move up the line to impact instrument makers, and other music product and service companies.

Guitarist Rick Nelson

 New business models popped up in the discussions- touring, scoring ads on film and TV, YouTube ads next to music videos, and online concert fees.  One company,, chose NAMM 2016 to launch a new global music/video business model designed with advice from  a number of advisors, including Waddy Wachtel of Stevie Nicks, Bunny Brunel of Herbie Hancock, and rock photographer Rob Shanaham. Wachtel, Brunel, and Shanaham were on hand for the launch press conference and reception.

Stevie Wonder trying out some new gear.

Tomorrow promises to be even more packed  and exciting with a TEC Tracks Session on “Building a Band in the Digital Age: Audio Rhythm Project” featuring Police drummer and founder Stewart Copeland and Public Enemy bassist Brian Hardgroove. Also tomorrow is the She Rocks Awards, and the 2016 Imagine Party  for the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus Featuring Dr. John & The Nite Trippers.

Dr. John James

Patrick O’Heffernan.  Host, Music FridayLive!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images and EPK link.

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