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NAMM and the world of Music Software: An interview with NAMM CEO Joe Lamond

NAMM and the world of Music Software: An interview with NAMM CEO Joe Lamond

In case you missed it, for the second year KVR is joining the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) in their efforts to bring more music software companies into the American music retail market. In fact the winner of this year's KVR Developer Challenge will receive the gift of a trip to the NAMM Show this coming January, and an opportunity to demonstrate their products for the NAMM audience in KVR's booth in the Software.NAMM village. NAMM's effort is something that software developers should be excited about.

Joe Lamond is the president and CEO of NAMM, which is a not-for-profit 501 (c) association that represents more than 10,000 manufacturers and retailers of musical instruments and professional sound products. The association's mission is: "to strengthen the music products industry and promote the pleasures and benefits of making music."

Joe became president and CEO of NAMM in 2001. Since then he's sponsored a number of innovative programs for young people, including MusicMakers, the first-ever national Club curriculum for after-school music education, created by NAMM and BGCA.

What's your personal background with music? Are you a player?

Joe practices his passion

After years of banging on anything stationary I finally got my first set of drums at age 10 and have been playing ever since. I played professionally in my 20's and had a good run, recorded and performed with some great musicians and was fortunate to tour many parts of the world. Today, my home office has a set of acoustic drums alongside an electronic set and I still play almost daily. Unfortunately, my responsibilities at NAMM have limited my ability to play out much, but someday I will be a gigging musician again, playing beach bars in San Diego.

Where did your personal passion for music originate?

That is a good question, it has always been a part of my life so it is kind of like asking 'where did my passion for breathing originate'. I suspect many in our industry are wired that way, I gravitated towards the drums likely due to the influences of the day, Ringo, Charlie Watts, John Bonham and session guys like Hal Blaine.

What brought you to NAMM?

Working in music retail, I had been a NAMM member since 1983 when I attended my first Winter NAMM. In the mid-90s, while working at Skip's Music in Sacramento we partnered with NAMM to make one of our educational programs 'Weekend Warriors' a national NAMM program. While working with the talented team in NAMM's Market Development Department I got to see another side of the organization beyond my experience with the shows and ended up joining that department in 1998.

What are some of your thoughts about the current state of the music products industry and music making in general?

In NAMM's 116-year history one could say that the only constant has been change, and that's probably as true as ever today. We can see that the industry continues to evolve incredibly fast, and the way that people are making, recording and sharing music is too.

And, we can see the growth of small boutique companies making beautiful handcrafted instruments of all kinds that musicians and artists can't seem to get enough of, and at the same time, the increasing numbers of members and exhibitors on the show floor from technology companies.

If you would have told me even a few years ago that we'd have exhibitors focusing on music making with smartphones and tablets, let alone creating the next generation of game audio and virtual reality, I would not have believed you. But The NAMM Show seems to be the place where all these worlds are coming together. I think there is something special that happens when the tech side mingles with traditional instrument makers, music educators and artists; new ideas and thinking occurs, and the next big breakthroughs are imagined at the NAMM Show.

A trade show reflects the market it serves. How do software developers fit into the NAMM ecosystem?

Apple co-Founder Steve Wozniak and Joe at 2015 NAMM Show

I think the NAMM Show is the crossroads of the music making and sound production communities, and for many of our participants, software sits at its core. A musician can't go into a studio today or a hobbyist record something at home without software or without the music product surrounding it. Software advancements are allowing live sound, lighting and touring professionals to integrate equipment to create new musical and audio experiences.

I think we recognize the contribution of this important industry segment and through our partnership with IMSTA (International Music Software Trade Association), we're able to provide developers a dedicated community area at the Show, Software.NAMM. The Software.NAMM village offers creators the opportunity to connect to a global audience of potential customers and media to demonstrate their products and have meaningful conversations.

The Winter NAMM Show is expanding. What kinds of opportunities do you see for software developers to take part in that future? Does NAMM have any special programs for software developers and start-ups in general?

We're very fortunate to have the support of the industry and thankfully The NAMM Show is well positioned to provide a more robust platform to exchange ideas and develop business channels. Currently the Software.NAMM village can only accommodate a limited number of developers, and the demand for space exceeds capacity. As the NAMM campus continues to grow in Anaheim, we will be able to dedicate additional space to unique exhibit areas like Software.NAMM. Plus, we will be able to expand networking and presentation opportunities, allowing developers to reach a wider range of professionals and educators increasing the value for all participants. Along with this, we will continue to offer enhanced professional development opportunities through our TEC Tracks program, designed to develop new skills and showcase market trends helping developers identify opportunities of and for the future.

What are the global aspects of NAMM?

The NAMM Show is truly the "global family reunion" for music professionals. I've often said that the show is the annual family reunion of the music industry and a trade show just happens to break out. We're so lucky that people seem to enjoy coming to Southern California in January. Last year, I believe we had visitors from something like 125 countries.

What are some of the things that software and content developers can do to work with music retailers?

In my opinion, music retailers have an important role in serving content creators by providing total solutions to the music making and recording process. The 'end zone' of the wonderful products that NAMM Members bring to market is to provide tools that bring music to the world. Our retail members have the expertise to help musicians, artists and engineers achieve their goals and ensure that they have all the right tools and knowledge. I believe they are trusted partners to the artist community.

How do you see the A3E initiative at NAMM?

A3E is very tuned in to the future of audio, sound production, recording and MI, along with current breakthroughs in those areas. Their education program is unique in that it not only speaks to audio professionals but also more technical groups, such as music software developers. Focused on exploring the boundaries of musical creativity with advanced audio applications, including new music technology, mobile apps, wearables, game audio, virtual reality and AI, A3E's two-day education summit brings a lot of added value to the show and to TEC Tracks. I suspect future breakthroughs will be traced back to these exciting sessions.

What are some of the things that NAMM does for the industry that you would like more people to be aware of?

The very heart and soul of our industry is our love of music and our belief that it is a force for good in this world. We envision a world where every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught. I believe NAMM's model, where trade show revenues are invested back into the industry in music programs, research and government lobbying for arts education is unique and has had tremendous impact.

One year ago, President Obama signed into law the new 'Every Student Succeeds Act', the largest change in U.S. education policy in decades.

Because of the tireless efforts of NAMM and our members, music is emphasized as a critical component of a well-rounded education, making it eligible for increased funding and focus. We believe that this will lead to millions of more children experiencing the joys of playing music in the years to come. That fact should make every single NAMM member and NAMM Show participant proud, it was made possible because of their support.

Think seriously about attending the NAMM Show this year. You should see many of your fellow developers, colleagues, and customers there.




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