January 05, 2021 I Event
Reasons to Believe
There’s a sense of curiosity and a bit of fear-of-the-new surrounding NAMM’s Believe In Music Week which begins on Jan. 18. But two things stand certain — NAMM is pulling out the stops, and come January, Believe In Music Week should help the industry’s entrepreneurs prepare their businesses for after the pandemic.
NAMM has set a lofty goal of getting 150,000 registrants for the online experience, which makes sense. After all, the barriers of time, travel planning and expense have been virtually eliminated. Attendees from around the globe can pop in from the comfort of their home, store or office for a few live sessions during Believe In Music Week, then catch up with sessions missed on-demand through the end of February. With some 160 sessions on tap, there will be a lot to catch up on.
It’s a plan that now has NAMM thinking the event might attract as many as 300,000-400,000 registrants before all is said and done, according to Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM.
“I think by setting modest goals, we built a plan that we thought was achievable,” Lamond said in a mid-December interview. “And, I think we’re going to blow past all of them. So, this was back in August and September, when we were putting a plan together for the [NAMM] board, and we didn’t know a lot, then. We know a lot more now.”
The first thing to know is that NAMM’s investment in Swapcard, the technology platform hosting Believe In Music Week, has been nothing short of staggering. Not only will it provide a home base for sessions, breakouts and grand performances, the platform’s artificial intelligence will help connect people, partners and products.
Exhibitors are now able to go in and start building out their brand experience pages. Think of them as, more or less, virtual booths or the pages of your favorite social media sites. And, registration is open for attendees.
“Everyone should register now,” Lamond said. “Everyone. They will be getting regular updates because they’re registered. Attendees cannot do anything except register right now and wait until Jan. 4. But in the meantime, if they’ve registered, [they’ll] be getting some great updates.”
He added that NAMM wishes it could get attendees onto the platform earlier, but “they’re down the hall programming it right now,” he said. “It’s all new, so you’ve got to wait till Jan. 4, and then go in and build out your profile.”
When the platform opens to attendees, Lamond said the more effort attendees put into their profiles, the more the platform will give back.
“New ideas, great education sessions and people you should meet,” Lamond said. “All of that. Every click you make is now going to help build out your profile in the platform’s algorithm to suggest more products and more sessions. It’s actually going to be learning as it goes about you as a participant.”
Exhibitors: Don’t Fear the New
On the exhibitor side of the event, Lamond said now is the time to get on board and learn the platform — because it will be part of The NAMM Show in the future.
“I get the fact that this is new and really unknown to everybody,” Lamond said. “Let us demo it for you. Let us show you how. For, basically, the price of a dinner in Anaheim, you can be a participant. We’re going to do this every show, so, you might as well learn it now. There’s going to be a virtual component to the show from now on.”
Earlier in the year, Lamond said there could be a virtual component to future shows, but now NAMM is convinced.
“There’s no going back,” he said. “This is too good. This is going to reach people around the world that we would have never reached before. We think we can actually bring eyeballs to your product launch that you might not get otherwise.”
Beyond that, dealers are starting to jump onboard. Even though it’s early in the registration process, several dealers signed up their entire staffs due to the convenience of attending virtually.
One of the cornerstones of Believe In Music Week is raising money for charity. For every dollar attendees donate, NAMM will match it. The money will go to 16 charities signed up at press time, including the Recording Academy’s MusiCares, Gibson Gives, the D’Addario Foundation and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Band Consortium.
“We are raising money that we’re going to give away on the two days of Believe,” Lamond said. “And some members have already been unbelievably generous. We’ve already received over $200,000 [and it] will probably be closer to $500,000 that we will give away in matching funds by raising money for these other charities on the two- day Believe.”
Looking for Light
For NAMM and its board, Believe In Music Week is shaping up to be an opportunity to truly start building toward life and business after the pandemic, Lamond said.
“Those who think that this is all about how is NAMM going to save the show, they’re overthinking it,” he said. “This is about how can we, as an organization, as an industry, launch in 2021 on a better foot to get out of this pandemic.”