July 12, 2021 I MI Editor I by Daniel Margolis

On Reunions

One of the biggest topics in MI right now is Summer NAMM. That’s just a fact. Pretty much every MI retailer and supplier in the U.S. has been asked in the last couple months if they’re going, and if they’re not, why not, and if they are, how they’re feeling about that.

That’s certainly reflected by this issue. In his excellent column in our July issue, Tracy Hoeft notes, “This will not be just another Summer NAMM.” Agreed.

I spoke with Joe Lamond, NAMM president and CEO, for the event coverage in our July issue — the article is based on conversations from early April and late May. Probably the most important thing he said is, “What [Summer NAMM attendees are] going to come away with is it’s OK to open up, because we need them to, and for us as an industry to expect others to do what we’re unwilling to do might not be realistic.”

He’s right. It’s getting to a point where not having Summer NAMM would be dramatically worse than having the show.

To get a clearer picture of what Summer NAMM is going to be like, I spoke with Zach Phillips, NAMM’s director of professional development, on the day this issue went to press. Phillips is well positioned to assess the overall MI ecosystem because, in addition to his role at NAMM, he served as editor of this magazine from 1999 to 2012.

Phillips shared with me that the association felt its membership was directly asking for this show to happen. “We kept hearing from NAMM members who said they would crawl through broken glass to be together again,” he said. “So we’re holding Summer NAMM this year in that spirit, first and foremost. It’s an industry family reunion.”

Phillips said he is particularly excited about the education sessions this year, understandable because he assembled them. He said Summer NAMM being two days has ended up being a strength in terms of the schedule. The way he summed up this sentiment will warm the heart of anyone who makes a habit of hanging out in record stores.

“When I look at the schedule, I think, ‘This looks like a double album without any filler,’” he said. “Not sure if that’s an oxymoron.” For the record, pun firmly intended, Zach and I agree Blonde On Blonde by Bob Dylan is a rare example of a double album without any filler.

The most important truth about Summer NAMM might be one simple thing — for any of us who go, it might be the first time we see and hear live music for a year and a half. Phillips speaks to the significance of this well. “The thrill of hearing live music again, I think it’s going to be an incredibly emotional experience,” he said. “I know I will never take for granted a venue that’s a little bit too loud or reverberant again.” MI

Daniel Margolis has been a professional writer and editor for over two decades.

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