April 05, 2021 I Event
Summer NAMM Show 2021 Moving Forward
The Summer NAMM Show is set for July 15–16 in Nashville, as uncertainty about the safety of travel and social gatherings remains. Asked how he was feeling about the likelihood of the show happening while speaking with Music Inc. on April 5, NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond said, “better and better each day.”
“Things are opening up around the country [and] the world,” he said. “The number of vaccinations that are being sent around the States is just increasing exponentially. Over three months out, that’s only going to get better. By no means is that saying we’re out of the woods, but I’m optimistic.”
Asked if there is a date at which NAMM might look at halting plans for Summer NAMM, Lamond said we are past it. Of course, the association will be continuing to monitor federal, state and local guidelines with respect to safety.
According to Lamond, NAMM is budgeting for a much smaller show from the perspective of the number of exhibitors.
“We’re going to use two full halls in the convention center, and then we’re spacing everything out further,” he said. “The show floor will look different than what people have seen in the past.”
The point, Lamond said, is to get people together, particularly suppliers and retailers, the latter of which will likely wait to decide whether to attend or not.
“Suppliers have to make decisions much earlier, and they’re making them right now,” he said. “There are a lot of suppliers who want to come and see their customers, but they don’t want to buy a big exhibit because they don’t have a lot of new products. For many companies, that was not the priority this past year. So what they want to do is just meet.”
NAMM will have a Zoom studio set up for attendees who want to have meetings from the Nashville show floor.
“That’s how we’re going to handle that group of exhibitors who want to come, want to see their customers, but don’t want to have a big exhibit,” Lamond said. “On the other hand, I’ve got Taylor guitars, who are saying, ‘We want a big exhibit.’ We’ve got Yamaha [saying], ‘We want to exhibit because we have a lot of new products to launch [and it’s been] 18 months since we’ve been able to see our customers.’ So we had to be flexible enough to accommodate both those desires and the exhibitor base.”
This Summer NAMM, which, Lamond noted, was one-tenth the size of The Winter NAMM Show pre-pandemic, will be unpredictable in terms of attendance, something the association accepts.
“That’s part of the reason you’re going from three days to two days,” he said. “We have no idea if anyone’s going to be willing to travel by then. Although I can tell you that we had staff in Nashville in [the] middle [of] March, and the report back was that there was no pandemic in Nashville. Broadway’s back, bars are open, concerts are being held. It’s a different read than what we have here in California which is still pretty locked down.”
Some people are just excited at the prospect of getting out of town. “I’ve talked to many of our members who are saying, ‘I’m just going to spend the weekend in Nashville and decompress because I haven’t been out in so long,’” Lamond said. “Whether that relates to a record-making Summer NAMM or a very small Summer NAMM, we just don’t know because there’s a lot of unknowns. And I don’t know if anyone with a crystal ball could predict what the world will look like in July.”
Lamond said NAMM is working closely with a group called Event Safety Alliance to set up the trade show floor safely and maintain sanitization. “We’re debating whether to use aisle carpet or not, because without aisle carpet, we can mop the whole thing down every night.”
So what could stop Summer NAMM at this point? It’d come down to two words: force majeure. “When a government mandate says you shall not meet that is time to pull it up,” Lamond said.
Lamond noted that having Summer NAMM sends a message of confidence in recovery, with the association leading the way. “A big part of our industry depends on music being performed, whether it’s in house of worship, plays, concerts or festivals,” he said. “So here our industry is depending on the world opening up. 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. It’s important for us as leaders to come together and actually show that we’re comfortable coming together.”