By Lorraine Kay
Anaheim, CA, January 2012— While the world is experiencing a recession the music industry is anticipating a significant growth in 2012. The increased optimism and hope for the future was the key theme at the 110th National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) tradeshow held recently in Anaheim, CA to record breaking attendance numbers. The 110-year-old show – the largest and longest-running musical instruments and products trade show in the United States – had a six percent increase over last year’s attendance with a reported 95,709 registered attendees, which included a 15 percent increase in international registration to 11,981 – the biggest and busiest NAMM Show ever.
Alien Ear Music attended this year’s show visiting many of its 1,441 exhibitors that included 236 new exhibitors to the show this year. Showing the latest in instruments, technology and support products the show was filled with excitement and celebrities throughout the entire Anaheim Convention Center. With a kind of circus atmosphere, non-stop performances by some of the industry’s biggest stars were not only during show hours but extended into the evenings in nearby hotel banquet rooms hosted by industry manufacturing giants.
According to NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond, “Once again the NAMM Show served as the crossroads for musical instrument and live sound products manufacturers, retailers and their guests from all over the world. We are extremely grateful to all of the NAMM Members, music educators, artists, partners and media who made this 110th NAMM Show a resounding success for the industry and a great start to 2012.”
Like so many industry trade shows the NAMM Show is the place where music products retailers meet face-to-face with manufacturers for four days to make their biggest purchases and gain product knowledge for their stores in the year ahead. But this show goes beyond the usual wheeling and dealing and educational sessions promoting the latest products with the help of the people that can intimately demonstrate the features on display – professional musicians through live music performances.
The list of celebrities demonstrating and performing this year was overwhelming. Starting with Wednesday’s pre-show media event – the show featured rock ‘n’ roll legend Brian Wilson, John Mayer, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Michelle Phillips, and Governor Mike Huckabee. But it was just the beginning.
Other artists performing and demonstrating products or just on hand to sign autographs and take pictures included drumming superstar Thomas Lang, master percussionist Luis Conte and award-winning guitarists Andreas Oberg and Martin Taylor who appeared to talk about the importance of music education and their partnerships with the leaders in online music education — Napa California-based music education and technology company ArtistWorks as well. Each artist spoke about their own online schools which are powered by ArtistWorks’ innovative Video Exchange™ platform
Taylor Guitar and Gibson Guitar each had an all-star lineup of artist performances with John Rzeznik, singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the hit pop group the Goo Goo Dolls, and Brian Wilson, Dave Navarro, Donavan, Joe Bonamassa, Lee Roy Parnell and Billy Morrison. Bluegrass Guitarist Johnny Hiland performed on behalf of Emotiva Pro Cort had an impressive list of guest performers as well, with Rudy Sarzo, Craig Goldy, Dan Jocab, Travis Miguel, Pepper, Oriathi, Ronnie Montrose, Carl Verheyen. Lita Ford, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson, Chris Jericho, Mike Inez, Michael Wilson, Chuck Garric, T.M. Stevens, and Skid Row. Vince Wilburn, Jr. and Erin Davis appeared in support of the “Miles Davis Trumpet” high performance in-ear headphones by Monster.
The NAMM SHOW 2012 was themed “Make It Count,” focusing on innovation in the form of apps and technology products designed to make playing music more accessible and easier than ever for consumers. This was not just seen in the game area or synthesizers, but there was something for everyone, every skill level from beginner to seasoned professional. But with so much to see and try out it is difficult to decide which items were the most impressive. Below are just a few items that stood out for us.
The obvious place to look for technology was in the App and Gaming Pavilion. Exhibitor Agile Partners demonstrated their app designed to run an amplifier on an iPhone or iPad. According to Bradley Walker of Agile Partners the show benefitted his company by allowing potential consumers to have a hands-on experience with the app. “I think it is better understood and people now want to know how our app compares with the rest of the market.”
One fun and yet practical product being demonstrated was the Slaperoo, of Andy Graham Productions., an electric percussion instrument. Elegant and robust, the 100% alloy design brings together classic metal craftsmanship with modern music-making technology. The hallmark sound of the SLAPEROO is created by striking a tensioned four-foot alloy steel strap amplified by a special internal pickup. This tunable strap can be played either using both hands (like a fretless bass), or using a hand / stick combination to create percussive bass lines and other rhythmic patterns. Along with serious percussive capability, the SLAPEROO has a myriad of harmonic nodes along the surface of the strap that can be used to bring out the tonal subtleties. In addition, the use of effects pedals make the SLAPEROO’s applications endless.
Feeltune demonstrated the Rhizome, a computer-based groove machine compatible with VST and VSTi plugins. All of this comes wrapped in a super ergonomic and exquisitely designed machine, which offers numerous controls, and four large 24bit screens displays for better visibility. Powered by a Microsoft© embedded system, the Rhizome is compatible with 99% of VST plugins. All plugins run on the Rhizome OS, a VST plug-in host and pattern-based sequencer that offers several features: sampler, virtual mixing desk, multi-effects, real-time and step-tracks, total recall, control assignation and many more.
And how many sound technicians have heard a performer complain that they cannot hear themselves and wondered whether the audience was hearing them. The technician knows it sounds perfect but the performer cannot hear it the way he needs. POSSE AUDIO cuts out this kind of frustration. Designed by musicians for musicians, POSSE AUDIO launched a revolutionary, affordable and compact system for musicians, recording artists, and music venues, eliminating the need for a monitor mix sound technician and allowing for easy customization of ear monitors on stage or in the studio. The POSSE system (Personal On Stage Sound Environment) seamlessly interfaces with wireless earphone and instrument systems and comes with an acoustic gooseneck mic for the unelectrified. You can also use a built-in phantom power supply, record all your performances, play music during the break, and tune with a line-of-sight tuner—all in this travel-size system. POSSE is great for private practicing at home, too, allowing you to monitor yourself and play—without disturbing others in the house or neighborhood—using recorded music or any outside musical source.
“POSSE was originally designed to correct for monitoring problems that a performer encounters on the stage and in the studio,” offered POSSE co-creator and singer-songwriter, Randy Sharp, who co-designed the concept of the system. “We’ve all struggled with trying to communicate with the sound person, dealing with a poor monitor mix, or in instances where the audience or band mates are too loud. Being able to independently set the level of your vocal mic, your instrument output, the ambiance of the room and any auxiliary input(s), you can customize your monitors to a comfortable and performance enhancing mix… And you’ll play better when you sound good to yourself. When performers cannot hear themselves, they tend to play and sing harder, which causes havoc with the vocal chords, nuances of the music, and pitch. By carrying your mix with you from venue to venue, you’ll eliminate the frustration and have the satisfaction of knowing how you’ll sound at every show.”
Sensaphonics Hearing Conservation, the technology leader in personal monitoring offered a unique opportunity to order custom-fit IEMs and Musicians Earplugs without the hassle and expense of going to an audiologist for ear impressions. Sensaphonics offered show specials on all their custom soft silicone products, with free ear impressions from a team of Golden Circle Audiologists. They also offered demos of the newly-patented 3D Active Ambient IEM System, the only in-ear system that lets the wearer hear the natural ambient sound around them with both earpieces in place.
iK Multimedia had several new products to show-off this year. At the top of the list was the iKlip™ Studio, the adjustable iPad desktop stand designed specifically for musicians. iKlip Studio holds the iPad firmly on studio desks or other surfaces when using a variety of music and other apps.
Apps like synthesizers, beat-pads and other controllers can be played energetically on the multi-touch screen with no risk of the device moving or sliding. Its flexible orientation allows it to tilt its position from a very low-profile angle – ideal for use with apps like mixers, controllers or synthesizers – to near-vertical positioning for use as a reader for scores or tablatures or to place the iPad behind music keyboard controllers.
iKlip Studio is made of lightweight, shock-resistant thermoplastic that is durable and solid to reliably support the iPad. Rubber foot-pads grip the desktop and prevent unwanted sliding. Its support tray also fits most cases for ultra-quick positioning of an iPad of any generation.
The device can be quickly rotated between its horizontal and vertical position to suit any app, and convenient openings in the housing allow accessibility to every port of the device for charging or connecting to external speakers with handy slots for keeping the cables neatly organized. A detachable bracket is also included to hold the iRig interface adapter in place and keep it from hanging from the iPad. For maximum portability, iKlip Studio folds completely flat so it can be quickly inserted into any iPad bag and carried anywhere.
Also from IK Multimedia is the iRig™ STOMP, the first stompbox guitar interface for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. For the first time, guitar and bass players can now integrate their favorite iOS signal processing apps into their existing live pedalboard setup for enhanced tone shaping and effects processing.
For vocalists, IK Multimedia was proud to present iRig™ PRE, the ultimate solution for connecting any type of microphone – from regular stage microphones to expensive studio models – to any iPhone, iPhone touch or iPad providing access to the widest range of recording applications.
iRig PRE is the first high-quality microphone preamp designed specifically for iOS devices that allows musicians to use their favorite high-quality stage or studio mics with their iOS device. The microphone plugs directly into the standard XLR connector of iRig PRE with no need for extra cables or adapters.
For the DJ IK Multimedia had the DJ Rig™, a full-featured, double-deck DJ mixing app for iPhone. DJ Rig provides instant song play from the device’s music library, tempo sync, sample-based pads, performance recording and an arsenal of high-quality DJ effects. Together with the just-announced iRig™ MIX, DJ Rig is the most portable, pro-quality setup for mobile DJs and musicians
IK Multimedia’s iRig™ MIX, the first mobile mixer for iPhone, iPod touch or iPad devices offers the same controls you would expect from a professional DJ mixer (crossfader, cues, EQ and volume controls, etc.) in an ultra-compact mobile mixer that can be used with a huge variety of iOS DJ mixing and other apps.
iRig Mix allows DJs to use a traditional setup with two devices (one plugged into each of the independent channels) OR a single iOS device. For the single iOS device setup, the output of the single device is split into dual-mono and sent to the individual channels. Additionally – for the first time on any DJ mixer – it can be used for mixing any type of audio source (mp3 players, CD players, etc.) with an iOS device using automatic tempo matching and beat-syncing. This is accomplished with X-Sync, a feature that works in combination with the DJ Rig free app from IK Multimedia that is included with iRig Mix.
Not just for DJs: iRig MIX also provides the perfect mixing solution for solo musicians or small ensembles that use one or more iOS devices to play live. It features an extra guitar/microphone input that facilitates processing with popular apps like AmpliTube and VocaLive or any other app that offers real-time audio processing. Its standard RCA connectors provide easy, direct connection to PA systems or powered speakers.
iZotope, Inc., a leading innovator in digital audio signal processing, announced Mastering Essentials, a new tool designed specifically for Acoustic Mixcraft Pro Studio 6. iZotope Mastering Essentials made its debut as part of Acoustica’s Mixcraft Pro Studio 6, the latest edition of their popular Windows-based DAW. “By licensing elements from Ozone, iZotope’s flagship mastering suite, Acoustica is delivering a basic mastering solution approachable for musicians of any level
“Mastering Essentials is the perfect intro to mastering,” explains Alex Westner, iZotope’s Director of Business Development. “With over 80 presets to choose from, users can get going quickly with great results. We take it a step further, though, by letting musicians experiment with customizing their sound. The three additional EQ, Reverb, and Tube Amplifier modules allow users to grow and expand their capabilities as they become more comfortable with mastering their own music.”
Jammit. This groundbreaking FREE app, available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, was unveiled Jammit allows users to practice and perform over the original master recordings of their favorite songs. Hundreds of artists, from R.E.M., Jane’s Addiction, Mastodon, Rush, Nirvana and Soundgarden to Maroon 5, Train and the Foo Fighters, and from the Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead and Doobie Brothers to Billy Joel, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Yes, have all offered up their tunes to be made available as Jammit tracks for practicing, mixing, recording, and general tinkering amongst musicians and fans.
This revolutionary music education and performance platform isolates individual audio tracks from original multi-track masters. Available for guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and vocals, Jammit allows participants to isolate a specified instrument from the master to better hear the individual instrument. The app provides note-for-note transcriptions in standard notation or tablature, the ability to quickly navigate to any part of the song, repeat bars with adjustable snap-to-grid looping and the ability to slow the song without affecting the pitch. Once the user has learned the song they can remove the original instrument recording and replace it with their own version.
Education was key at the show this year. ArtistWorks unveiled its fourteenth online music school at the show for Dobro and Latin Percussion to join their twelve existing schools and two academies that already use the innovative Video Exchange™ learning method.
Unlike other video-based sites, DVD’s or instruction books, ArtistWorks offers much more than one-sided learning. Students of any level can send videos of themselves practicing and receive personalized video responses from their teacher with feedback and individualized instruction. These videos are then posted for the entire school to view and learn from as Video Exchanges™. No particular skill level or experience is required to learn on these sites, the video lessons cover everything a player needs to learn.
NAMM Show 2012 also took a look at social networking. Monkeybars, A new social network marketplace launched its beta debut at the show. Monkeybars’ mission is to create a sustainable community that values artists for their creativity and fans for their support, while enhancing their support network through existing social media sites. In other words – it’s media shared in an equitable fashion; for the artist and fan. Most indie artists struggle to distribute and make money from their content. The most popular music sites pay only a fraction of royalties (some only 1/16th of a penny). This is where Monkeybars says it sees inequality, a chance to change the tide of media exchange and proliferation- subvert the status quo.
Monkeybars puts the artists back in control. Artists decide how much of their profits go back to their supports. Artists benefit by directly interacting with their fan base and rewarding their loyalty and support through sharing content on Monkeybars
For some companies the NAMM Show 2012 wasn’s just about the products but they took the opportunity at NAMM to announce major corporate changes and additions to their companies. Two of those most notable were Dean Markley Guitars and MakeMusic..
Make Music’s big announcement was its purchase of Garritan Corporation makers of Garritan Personal Orchestra and several other best-in-class virtual sound libraries. With its introduction of Garritan Instant Orchestra to its product line, founder Gary Garritan joined MakeMusic as MakeMusic’s Director of Instrumental Sciences.
Dean Markley, the man, is back. Celebrating the company’s 40th Anniversary, Dean Markley has come back to be a part of the day to day activities around the office. The Dean Markley company is world reknown for their legendary strings, innovative products and memorable ad campaigns
The National Association of Music Merchants, commonly called NAMM in reference to the organization’s popular NAMM trade shows, is the not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and strengthens the $17 billion global musical instruments and products industry. NAMM’s activities and programs are designed to promote music making to people of all ages. NAMM is comprised of more than 9,000 Member companies. For more information about NAMM, interested parties can visit www.namm.org or call 800-767-NAMM (6266).