Like A Kid In A Candy Store: NAMM 2016

*written by Crystal Garcia for Electronica Life
With over one hundred THOUSAND people in attendance at the Anaheim Convention Center over the course of four days in late January, this year’s NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) was said to be the best yet. The international music industry from every corner of the globe gathered together to share ideas, learn, connect, network and most importantly, to showcase the latest and greatest in music instruments, gear, equipment, and software.

Although I am not a musician by any means, I was absolutely intrigued and captivated by the abundance of products to test out on the show floor, that I felt like a kid in a candy store for the entirety of the four days. There was never a dull moment on the massive exhibit floor as there was always something to look at, listen to our touch. At times it was almost overwhelming, a sensory overload experience to say the least.

There were countless memorable moments experienced that can’t be justified in this review alone, so I’ve done the guess work and summed up my favorite moments of NAMM 2016 below.

Pioneer, Universal Audio, Moog, Oh My!

While there was no shortage of hi tech producing, recording and engineering equipment to check out, these are the top three booths that I believe stole the show. Pioneer DJ debuted new products including the new CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-900NXS2, while also having one of the most elaborate and entertaining booths on the show floor. Pioneer was also kind enough to host a happy hour everyday for attendees as they sampled DJ equipment.

Universal Audio had their hand in entertaining the crowds as they hosted daily interviews and demos with top recording engineers, and had daily giveaways for their most prized product, the Apollo Twin. For entertaining photo ops, UA even brought along their original Heritage Studio which dates back to 1958!

Moog music made a grand appearance as they displayed their famed synthesizers for all to play with, complete with a colorful set up and comfy pillows to sit on. I admit I may have gotten a bit too comfy and spent a lot of time at MOOG discovering the array of sounds and possibilities to create on a synthesizer. Once again, I was just like a kid in a candy store.

Celebrity Appearances & Performances

Stevie Wonder performed and I missed it! No words to describe how sad I was about this, but it was nice to know that he was there and spreading those Stevie Wonder good vibes that he shares so naturally. Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins was also in attendance on the first day signing autographs for the ecstatic 90’s generation kids.

On the second day of NAMM, I caught electronic music legend BT at the Spitfire Audio booth hosting a demo and chatted with him afterwards. I saw him multiple times throughout NAMM after that, and it was refreshing to see a big name DJ roaming the floor freely and chatting up anyone that striked up a conversation with him.

Industry Drum Circle

Directly after the agenda of day two, an industry drum circle took place directly outside of the convention center. I watched as the drum circle quickly transformed from a few people to rows of drummers and musicians chiming in. It was interesting to see a plethora of different styled drums grooving together to catch the perfect rhythm. To the delight of those passing by and myself, it turned out to be the most entertaining drum circle I’ve ever witnessed.

Tec Tracks Discussions

Every Day of NAMM from beginning to end, innovative and discussions were held at the NAMM U idea center and Tec Tracks panels. I learned new ideas about the music business in these discussions than I would have ever thought, while also connecting and networking with peers in the industry. A recurring theme that appeared to take place was the subject matter of the future of the music business and how artists will thrive in the digital age of streaming services and non-apparent royalties. One quote that stuck with me during a panel about “digital music as a commodity,” was by one of the speakers who stated that “streaming services will keep innovating because they literally HAVE to.”

Believe In Music”, as the NAMM catchphrase reads, is a simple but yet powerful three words. It was an inspiring experience to participate in the innovation, creativity and exchange of ideas that takes place at NAMM. When we believe in music, the possibilities are endless. I do believe that NAMM stands as a global model and true testament to the validity of what’s possible when we “Believe In Music.”