RBI Music's Mark Petrocelli

March 24, 2021 I Convention

Adapting to a New Beat

By Katie Kailus

With last year’s cancellation of the 2020 Summer NAMM show and PAS’s 2020 PASIC convention going virtual, NAMM’s Believe in Music Week provided drum suppliers with the first opportunity in nearly a year to virtually showcase the latest and greatest drum gear to a wide audience.

Despite not being able to make the all-important in-person connections with attendees, many drum suppliers reported that the virtual event allowed them to cast a wider net.

“I thought it was a great dress rehearsal for what’s to come. As the Dixon Drums product manager, I cast a pretty wide net and ended up with a broad but strong contact list, including everything from new business to new and focused fans of our brand,” said Jim Uding, Dixon Drums product manager. “But, what I really valued from the experience is how better prepared I’m to take full advantage of any virtual show platform in the future. If NAMM can figure out how to combine the best of Believe in Music Week with the best of the live, in-person show, we’ll all benefit.”

Eric Ricciardi, vice president of percussion at D’Addario, echoed Uding’s sentiment.

“Without in-person events and without the ability to walk around and interact with consumers, [Believe in Music Week] gave us a great outlet to showcase our new gear,” Ricciardi said. “We got a lot of good feedback, and we used this opportunity to touch base with key retailers. I think it made it easier for more people to participate and join, so we got to meet some new people.”

Taking Talents Online
A slew of new gear hit attendees screens during the virtual event — from Dixon Drum’s new Artisan

series acoustic offerings to Toca Percussion’s latest Synergy Deluxe Congas.

Improving upon the success of the DTX502 series, Yamaha launched its new DTX6 series of digital drum kits. The series’ DTX-Pro module featuring the Kit Modifier delivers high-resolution sounds and puts drummers in control of their creative expression. The series features the DTX6K-X, DTX6K2-X and DTX6K3-X models, and advanced connectivity offers players the ability to connect numerous devices for recording and streaming.

“With the free Rec’n’Share app, drummers can practice, perform and create high-quality videos to share without leaving their drum throne,” said Matthew Rudin, Yamaha’s marketing manager, drums.

This new iOS and Android app comes in particularly handy as suppliers, including Yamaha, have reported seeing a rise in the number of drummers putting on virtual performances from home — something musicians across the industry have done to stay inspired during the pandemic.

“Everyone has dealt with the pandemic in their own way,” Rudin said. “Some have taken this time to reflect, slow down or create new music, while many others have focused on teaching online.

“Being able to connect and share music virtually has helped a lot of our artists and friends continue to stay active during this difficult time,” Rudin continued. “Obviously, we are all eager to get back to touring, gigging and performing for in-person audiences, yet we are incredibly fortunate to have access to technology that allows us to continue to teach and share music online.”

Mark Petrocelli of RBI Music — which owns Toca Percussion — said he’s also seen a lot of drummers taking their talents online.

“I’ve seen drummers and percussionists stepping outside of their comfort zone and doing more online content,” he shared. “There are a lot more home recording studios popping up and people are taking advantage of providing their services — whether it’s to perform or produce for others.”

One of the buzzier drum releases during Believe in Music Week came with the redesign of Tama’s Starclassic Performer series kit. First released in 1994, the new Starclassic Performer kits feature a hybrid maple and birch shell design, creating a musical tone that blends the best of each material and offering drummers a complex, powerful and expressive sound

“Overall, it’s a professional sounding and performing kit [available] at an accessible price point,” said John Palmer, sales strategist for Tama.

While players might not be able to test out the redesigned Starclassic on stage right away, Palmer said the influx of online drum content has been a good thing for the drumming community and the art of drumming as a whole.

“Drummers have focused on their at-home performances — with increased frequency and product value of their made-at-home videos. As a result, we’ve seen excellent advancements [in the] audio and video quality being produced, which has stimulated engagement and interest on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram,” Palmer explained. “Musicians pay attention, and though some would be reluctant to admit it, are [competitive], so when a drummer records themselves playing an intricate groove pattern or fill, it’s noticed and emulated. Overall, the effect is positive and raising the bar of what can be achieved on a drum set. Although there’s a difference between drum gymnastics and the live music performance, lines are being blurred and this continues to push music in new and
exciting directions.

“I’ve seen more drummers experimenting and integrating diverse percussion into their traditional setups — such as including traditional African drums and marching percussion with their acoustic drum setups, ” Palmer continued. “As a result, new sonic tapestries are being woven.”

As more drummers practice at home, a focus on quieter drumming, like digital sets, have taken center stage.

During Believe in Music Week, Evans Drumheads officially launched SoundOff, a new line of drumheads featuring a single ply of a unique mesh material, which dramatically reduces a drumhead’s volume — making it an ideal partner for low-volume acoustic drum practicing in a home, apartment or other quiet setting.

“As you can imagine, coronavirus really increased the need for quiet drumming and quiet practice solutions,” D’Addario’s Ricciardi explained. “At Evans, our new SoundOff drumheads are perfect for just that.” MI

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