By Harvey Sid Fisher
Anaheim, CA (Hollywood Today)1/24/12/—NAMM is a behemoth. It is an enormous creature It is Grand Central Station on steroids.
It is one big crowded bar without the booze. Over 1400 exhibitors at the Anaheim Convention Center displaying their music related wares to over 90,000 visitors (Wait, Stop! Just in: make that 95,709 visitors). It’s a four-day convention for a reason. No one can walk to everywhere to see everything in even five days. You will always be behind schedule. That’s how they get you to keep coming back to the next convocation.
The logistics of NAMM must be comparable to running a small country and it is done with sky high efficiency. NAMM should be running the United States. Why not? They are both not-for-profit organizations. NAMM could be a one party government whose members would be eminently qualified to pull strings, drum up jobs and blow their own horns.
As I walked down the miles of aisles the first stimulus to strike my senses was the noise level. I was surrounded by electronic screens and amplifiers audibly demonstrating their purpose. Individually they were not that loud or offensive, but when accreted by hundreds of other neighboring sound players, the synergy effect forces you to speak louder than normal to be heard.
NAMM is an organization of music merchants and there were many musical instrument manufacturers, but still, I think they might have been in the minority as electronic and mechanical devices dominated the floor with amps and apps and foot pedals and mics and all sorts of digital gizmos.
NEWTEK had video recording and tv transmission equipment that you might find in a live coverage national news van which has been miniaturized to fit in the trunk of a Mini Cooper, if it has a trunk, and with all its bells and whistles might cost you around $35,000 to stream your life. http://www.newtek.com/
90 countries were represented. China had a prominent island of space that was subdivided into normal sized booths under a banner that said CHINA. I could see that many of the Chinese exhibitors were not drawing much or any of the passing foot traffic. With a reporter’s curiosity I performed a mini survey to find out why.
I approached a few of them and engaged them in some light conversation. Un-oddly, they all had Chinese accents. One Chinese lady exhibitor spoke English the best and was pleasantly conversational but many of this Asian contingent had no comfortable facility with the English language while others openly struggled.
How do you go to a country to sell a product without some fluency of the language? Not even an interpreter on the premises. All this money spent to get to the US to sell product they can’t pitch. What were they thinking? There is something going on here that requires looking into. It’s above my pay grade. Maybe NAMM is already on it.
Moving along, I passed more than a few booths selling guitar straps. Economics is not my forte but let me try some numbers here. A small booth might cost an exhibitor $3,000. I have owned the same guitar for 30 years and it has the same strap it came with. How does a guitar strap company make money? Not on me. Other interesting encounters:
MONKEYBARS has a unique marketing plan for the music creator. As friends and fans download a song they get cash rewards along the way. That does sound ‘socially rewarding’. https://www.monkeybars.net/
I came upon a good sized booth that sold conducting batons. MOLLARD - CONDUCTING BATONS. Whoever created a demand for this item is a marketing genius. These batons are light, straw-like sticks with a bulb shaped knob on one end for balance. They sell for $26 to $90. No philharmonic conductor need be without one. http://www.mollard.com/core/homepage.htm
PLACIDAUDIO They make a microphone that creates the sounds of old and nostalgic recordings. None of this modern noise for them. http://www.placidaudio.com/
JJGUITARS Cool guitars from the UK. Simon Townsend, brother of you know Who, plays a hand crafted JJ Guitar with the Casbah Club Band. http://www.jjguitars.com/
VOYAGEAIRGUITAR. ‘The future of guitar travel’. The neck folds over the body and fits into a traveling backpack and the plane’s overhead compartment. http://www.voyageairguitar.com/
VISIONARY INSTRUMENTS .COM Steve Stevens of Billy Idol owns one. A guitar with a video/tv screen on the face that shows video. You gotta see it to watch it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhlDsuOEBdY
LA BELLA World class strings…for every string Eric Cocco, VP was very helpful. If you have a Mandola, a Bandolin or a Tiple. No Problem. La Bella have the strings for you. http://www.labella.com/
Performers were everywhere: Celebrity guitar and bass players were drawing long lines for signings.
The TV BAND including Chuck Lorre of the Big Bang Theory, on the lobby stage Saturday was amazing.
BLUE FELIX, a metal band, sat in their booth, signed autographs and happily posed for pictures. A five-member group with monstrous make-up that would scare a rock and a roll.
GLYSCIAN.COM Suzanne and her trio band were in the house. A red tint hair beauty with a full metal sound.
RIE SINCLAIR .COM – Singer, songwriter, producer. Sounds like she is making up the song as she performs.
The Anaheim Convention Center is another study in hugeness. A megalopolithic argosy of endless corridors and five cavernous enclosures they call halls, which house the exhibitor booths and events. The distances can be hallucinatory as I irrationally look around for a moving sidewalk to save me the trudge.
When covering such a dauntingly expansive field my usual plan is to just do what is in front of me to do which is what brought me to the mens room on the street level by Hall E. There was a waiting line of ten men for only two urinals and two commodes.
Men’s rooms rarely have a long waiting line unless everybody is coming out of a movie at the same time. With the steady traffic of mobbed conventions you would think the designer would have the foresight to install a few more urinals. In perusing the three-story floor map of the Anaheim Convention Center I counted 49 bathrooms throughout the structure: 27 for the ladies and 22 for the men.
Now it makes me wonder if the bathroom architect was a woman trying to get even for all the years of long lines in ladies rooms and, if so, it brings up the obvious question to everybody’s mind; could having only two urinals in such a busy flow of activity qualify as a hate crime?
Harvey Sid Fisher