NAMM. Just saying that little word brings up a lot of thoughts. As a manufacturer, it means meeting with your dealers and artists, showing off your new products, giving away a lot – a LOOOOOT – of swag and talking with fellow industry folk. As an artist, it means seeing/playing gear that you’ve only heard about, networking your tail off and hopefully landing an endorsement or three.
I straddled both lines. One one hand, I was an artist and had scheduled some time to play at the GHS Strings and NS Design booths, as well as meeting up with a lot of other folk. On the other, as the Social Media Director for GHS Strings, it was my job to grab as much relevant content that we could use to help promote our artists as well as our product. But what I ended up coming away with from the show was more than that.
The music industry is in an interesting spot right now. We’re fighting with technology (in the form of cell phones, tablets, X-Box, Playstation, the list goes on) to stay in the forefront of young kids’ minds. The days of kids just jamming in their basement or garage seem a luxury, as most would rather “plug in” to the internet and virtually connect to the world, instead of physically going out to grab it. In an effort to inspire (and also, to market) the next generation of guitar heroes, I found a lot of industry people comparing notes, talking about collaboration, figuring out how we could all benefit. Being in social media well before I picked up the mantle at work, it was a natural thing to collaborate and find content that would be pointed and interesting, and also share it with everyone.
On the other hand, a lot of that social media is about connections; making friends, putting faces to email addresses, or in the case of a couple of people, searching me out to connect. And that’s when it hit me. It’s those connections that we need to cultivate in the music industry – nay, our LIVES – to help grow and succeed. More than just playing at a booth and showing off your chops (I made a vow that I wouldn’t play any slap bass at the show, because there were enough people to cover that), it’s about walking by the Pigtronix booth and hi-fiving owner, Dave Koltai. Or, it’s about grabbing a picture with Seymour Duncan and hearing him say “I love reading your articles!”
So with that in mind, I approached BOTH SIDES of NAMM with the sole purpose of creating connections, sharing our experiences with one another and at the end of the day, just enjoying the moment. I came back with a large repository of video footage (most of which were candid interviews with GHS Artists), a sizable stack of business cards, and an even larger group of friends in the industry and artists in general. NAMM is a great thing if you put aside the pomp and circumstance, and realize that we are all in this thing together, so let’s make it work for everyone.