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Some post-show thoughts about the 2022 NAMM

This month’s NAMM 2022 in Anaheim was great. It had been two and a half years since the previous show. This year’s show was less than half the size and attendance of previous shows, so obviously people are not quite ready to dismiss the COVID risk within large gatherings. I’ m really glad I was.

The exhibits displayed a huge variety of gear and accessories. From drums to keyboards to strings to live performance lighting and electronics to guitars, it was massive.

There was a bit of brass including this silver bad boy, but reflecting its limited popularity (and more difficult mastery), brass instruments were a small part of the show.

One thing that caught my eye was seeing that Shires finally got around to making an alto trombone with the tuning slide off the main slide, putting it back where it belongs connected to the bell. I’ve been after Steve Shires for years to make that move, but too late, I prefer my beautiful silver Adams.

The educational sessions were the highlight of the conference for me. I learned some valuable information that I’ll start using for my business. 

One stand-out session was with three people from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Over the past several months, I’ve come up with a bunch of questions concerning some new products I’m releasing which needed a conversation with my IP lawyer. But I was able to connect with the source here at NAMM who were happy to spend time thoroughly answering my questions.

For example, I asked about the fair use laws since I insert short snippets of famous recordings into some of my instructional materials, specifically my upcoming pocket jazz course.

They said that congress has never really defined the length of copy-written material that can be used

without permission or cost. I told them that I use around 10 seconds of needle drop, which they assured me was fine. Half a song, not so fine. And anything for educational use is further relaxed, even if that educational use is sold, which surprised me.

Saturday morning’s terrific breakfast presentation was lead by Scott Stratten of UnMarketing, Inc. He gave a bullshit-free talk on leadership. I wish I could have hired Scott back when I was responsible for bringing in speakers for my previous companies. Here’s a slide that reflects some of Scott’s philosophy:

There was a bit of jazz, at least by showcasing a personality, with Myron McKinley speaking about content marketing and social media. Myron is a talented and articulate young man who is a great model for musician businessman hustle. Here’s a slide he presented that I liked. It distills the main social platforms by their focus.

I had productive introductory conversations with the two big publishers at NAMM and I look forward to pursuing those opportunities. It seems like there is an appetite for jazz learning materials that are not the same old dots-on-the-page stuff. Stay tuned for that.

I also had the chance to attend a couple of panel talks with recent college grads. One of the talks was specifically about life in the real world after college and what they were experiencing. These were bright and ambitious guys and gals who had some very interesting things to say about the real world and some of the skills they didn’t learn in college.

Richie Beirach and I are soon to publish a book on jazz education, and we want to add a bit from what I heard at NAMM which we think will contribute even more to the book’s value for students.

One disappointment for me was the absence of jazz from the conference except for the Preservation Hall Jazz band and some dixieland street performers. I intend to offer NAMM some feedback that they should solicit performers of contemporary jazz for concerts and performances throughout the show. I’d like to believe that NAMM attendees want to hear more than just folk, rock, and pop.

WHAT, jazz isn’t super popular? Well, maybe more people might start to get into it if we’re not afraid to highlight it at a major music conference!

Last but not at all least, I want to give a shout-out to the guys keeping us safe at NAMM. There were many of them very visible throughout the entire campus. It’s an unfortunate state of the world that armed guards are necessary at a music trade show, but since they are, I thank these brave guys for keeping us safe!

Overall, I would call the return of NAMM after their two and a half year hiatus a success. I look forward to next year’s conference being back in full steam.

Experience the fun and speed of
improving your jazz improvisation!

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Michael Lake

Trombonist, author, marketer, & tech guy

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