From left: Roland's Chris Bristol, Fender's Larry Thomas and Roland's Kaz Tanaka
FEB. 21 I THE NAMM SHOW 2012 I SHOWS
The most important company at The NAMM Show 2012 didn't exhibit. Yet you'd be hard-pressed to find a corner of the Anaheim Convention Center not influenced by Apple.
From Jan. 19–22, exhibitors showed a dizzying array of new wares made to interface with and capitalize on iDevices. Music retailers, take heed: Most of these weren't giveaway apps. They were peripherals designed to sell on the show floor, and they spanned nearly all segments of the music products industry.
The pro audio and recording markets embraced the iRevolution from the start, and this year, they kicked it up a notch. Mackie made a splash with the DL1608, a 16-channel live digital mixer that can be controlled with an iPad. Featuring a $999 MAP, the DL1608 lets users remove the iPad and tweak their mixes from anywhere in a venue. Bonus: It supports up to 10 iPads.
"The good thing about having this iPad-based front end is the user interface is very consistent with the traditional type of layout that an iPad user will expect," said Christopher Mael, director of forecasting and planning for Loud Technologies, Mackie's parent company.
Apple's fingerprint extended to the way products are being marketed, too. Blue's Spark Digital is what company CEO John Maier called "really the first true professional studio recording mic made specifically for iPad and GarageBand." The unit, which carries a $200 street price, features a condenser capsule and a Focus control for two different voicings.
Amid guitar and amp exhibitors, IK Multimedia rolled out the iRig Stomp, a stompbox guitar interface for iDevices that lets players integrate iOS apps into their existing pedalboard setups. Likewise, DigiTech showed the new iStomp. This stompbox lets users program in their choice of DigiTech pedals and change them anytime through an iPhone, iPad or iPod.
"We have developed and created the stompbox of the future," said Scott Klimt, marketing manager for DigiTech.
Time will tell whether piggybacking on Apple's brand is healthy for the industry in the long-term. But for now, it has brought new innovation and excitement to MI.
If an innovative spirit at this year's conference pointed to better times ahead, the show's raw numbers were equally optimistic as indicators go. While recent winter NAMM conventions have seen slight upticks in attendance, this year boasted a 6-percent increase in showgoers, with a reported 95,709 total attendees. Exhibitors were up slightly, with 236 first-time exhibitors taking out booths. And many were buoyant about the convention and the state of business.
"This has been a really good show," said Don Ostler, regional sales manager at Chesbro Music. "I think our booth has really distinguished itself compared to the other booths. It has attracted a lot of attention. I don't know how they are going to top it next year."
Larry Thomas, CEO of Fender, announced a year of bold initiatives for his company. Among them, Fender has nearly 800 new products in R&D, according to Thomas.
"We want to drive innovation, and we want to drive new products," he said. "This year, 2012, you're going to see the beginnings of that because we have new products with every brand."
"I think the booth traffic has been fantastic — better certainly than the last three years but even better than some of the strong years prior to that," said Rick Young, senior vice president of Yamaha Corp. of America. "The dealers are excited. They want to do a good job for everybody. We're excited. Now, how do we get that third group, the customers, as excited as we are? That's the most important thing to do now, the follow-up." MI