I don’t do well in the winter months. Ask any of my friends, and they’ll tell you that I bust out the gloves, scarf and winter coat at the end of September. They might be exaggerating, but only by a few days. Today it’s 25 degrees F in NYC, but the wind chill is making it feel like it’s 14, which makes me feel like it’s 5 degrees. Ouch.
That’s one of the reasons why I welcome the opportunity to get out of the tundra and head for the NAMM Show in January. At least for a few days while I’m in Anaheim, my back doesn’t feel like a rusty cellar door.
No such luck this year. Way back in August of 2020, NAMM made a smart decision to move the January 2021 proceedings, NAMM Believe in Music, online due to the pandemic. It was a wise decision for several reasons, one of which is that at the time, there was no way of knowing if such public gatherings would be resumed by January. Making an early call gave manufacturers time to prepare to take it online and avoided an avalanche of hotel room and flight cancellations. Besides, trade shows are overrated these days—you can get all the info you need online anyway. Right?
That may be true to some extent, but there’s no doubt that regular NAMM Show attendees miss the up-close-and-in-person urgency of the show this year. It may be partly due to the fact that we’ve been cooped up for almost a year now and are going stir crazy. Or it could be due to the fact that our eyeballs are popping out of our heads from spending so much time in front of a computer screen. Or it might be due to the fact that we miss the hang with colleagues that we so look forward to seeing in person. Probably it’s all of the above.
Sure, you can get the info you need online—specs, photos, demos and Q&A—all from the discomfort of your chair (have I mentioned that this chair is putting a dent in my derriere from being in the same position for hours at a time?). But there’s no substitute for the excitement of being there when a new product is unveiled for the first time in public, there’s no way to hear your favorite music blasting over a new P.A., no way to lay your hands on a new mixing console, or to get a feel for the heft of a new microphone. Nope, online doesn’t cut it.
I’d like to think that recent trade shows went online because they had to, not because the presenters wanted to do so. I, for one, look forward to the return of the conventional model, where I can kick the tires, see my colleagues, and laugh while they make fun of me for wearing a winter coat when it’s 65 degrees outside.