December 22, 2023 I by Michael Santander

How to Get the Most Out of Your NAMM Show

I’d been working in the music industry at a retail store for about 10 years before I attended my first NAMM show. I tried to piece together what the event looked like from our store owner’s vague stories, but I still wasn’t sure what it was. The whole thing didn’t seem to apply to me or my position in the industry.

When I started working for a different retailer years later, they gave me the opportunity to attend my first NAMM show, and to put it simply, it changed my life.

As soon as I walked onto the main show floor for the first time, I was hit with a massive realization: I am part of something bigger. There were thousands of people doing the same kind of work I do, and this space was created for us all to grow together. We’re a part of this massive, connected industry where musicians, students, educators, business owners, retailers, manufacturers, vendors and distributors are being inspired to push our industry to new heights. The NAMM Show is about the connections we make across the industry and utilizing those relationships to help us grow.

As such, here are my top five suggestions for making the most out of your NAMM show experience this month:

Make a Plan
You can’t do it all. Find your priorities and schedule time for them. Visit the NAMM website, download the app and make a list of the most important people, products and sessions for you. Prioritize time for these. It’ll be way too easy to get distracted and caught up in something exciting and miss seeing something, or connecting with someone, who you really wanted to. Plan your days out by the hour.

Attend Educational Sessions
There’s so much to see at the show, but you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t read through all the educational sessions at NAMM U and pick a handful to attend each day. There’s a massive opportunity here to learn something new and be inspired. Find sessions that apply to the different areas of your work, and seek out little nuggets of wisdom that you can bring home with you.

Grow Your Network
Your “NAMMily” is more than a network of friends. They have similar struggles, successes, ideas and opportunities as you. These relationships will grow your career and inspire you to be great at what you do, while offering support in the times when you need it. Don’t discount this aspect of being at NAMM. Take a risk. Put yourself out there. Be awkward. Find a connection. Share your contact info.

Set Yourself Up for Success
Have your cell phone’s camera and a note-taking app ready to use and bring along some paper to take notes. Pack a bag or backpack for holding any papers or samples you end up grabbing, and don’t forget a fully-charged portable charger for your phone. Also, hand sanitizer, breath mints, earplugs and comfortable shoes. Plan on walking and talking for eight-plus hours a day.

Come In-Person
If you can’t attend in-person, you can still access so many benefits by attending virtually and taking full advantage of the NAMM website and its app. However, people come from all over the world to be part of this event. If you’re able to attend the show in-person, but you’re choosing not to because it doesn’t seem to apply to you, don’t make the same decade-long mistake I did: Come to The NAMM Show.

The event is hands-down the best opportunity you’ll have to grow your career and connections in the MI industry. Make it happen. I can’t wait to see you there. MI

Michael Santander is the general manager of Instrumental Music Center in Tucson, Arizona, and the president of NAMM YP.

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