We headed over to Anaheim, California to visit one of the largest music trade shows in the world.
Every January, Anaheim in California, USA, hosts NAMM: The National Association of Music Merchants show. Musicians, industry experts, shop owners and piano manufacturers alike attend in a bid to show off their brand-new products to the waiting world. We decided to head over and make our mark on the show.
This year, the Anaheim Convention Center hosted the show from 16 to 19 January.
Arriving on our first day, it was impossible to ignore just how vast the sea of visitors was, and how overwhelming the noise of all the music was. We had to stand still for a few seconds just to take it all in.
We spent three glorious days at NAMM immersing ourselves in everything the show had to offer; from live performances, to inspiring seminars and conversations with piano dealers. We also had some time to test the latest innovations released by various brands. There wasn’t a moment that went by that we didn’t see someone performing on a new instrument!
Pianist takes on NAMM 2020: Highlights from the annual trade show
Any outstanding new products worth mentioning?
Whilst this show is open to the entire industry, the piano industry specifically makes up a huge part of the show. Steinway, Roland, Kawai, Casio, Korg, Steingraeber, Schimmel, Blüthner and more came together in NAMM’s Lounge 88 area to celebrate the piano's rich history and future.
We particularly enjoyed ‘A Roomful of Pianos’ – a concert involving 30 pianists on 15 pianos performing Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 by Franz Liszt.
We were also very impressed with two stand-out, unique pianos. The first, a Yamaha and Bösendorfer collaboration on the Vienna 214VC Secession.
A Vienna 214VC Secession
There are only 21 of these limited-edition pianos available worldwide. Inside the piano lid are laurel leaves in ornamented form and plated with 23-karat gold, as is the engraving on the front “Ver Sacrum” which is the Secession’s motto.
Another showstopper was the Facet Grand Piano by Roland, which was giving its world premiere at the show.
Roland's new Facet Grand Piano
The story behind how this new creation was designed is a story worth telling. Roland decided they wanted to challenge designers from around the world to tear up the rule book and visualise the piano of the future. Through the Roland Digital Piano Design Awards, entrants were asked to design their ultimate Concert Grand Piano. This Facet Grand Piano was awarded first place.
“This is just the start,” commented Roland. We look forward to seeing a Roland Facet Grand on a stage in the UK one day.
Plenty of brilliant seminars to attend
One particular seminar we thoroughly enjoyed was Successful Marketing Strategies for Today's Piano Dealer.
Seminar host Bob Popyk
Host Bob Popyk was joined by a number of piano dealers around the USA, who all shared their thoughts on how to get new customers into their shops, what their best selling products are and why, and how they aim to encourage more young children to start learning. Are you a piano dealer? Listen up! Here are some top tips to consider:
- Make sure your shop website is easy to navigate. The majority of customers will first visit your website before deciding whether they want to make a personal visit to your store. If you know your website needs urgently improving, prioritise this today!
- Consider installing a learning area into your shop. This can create an extra revenue stream for you. Teachers can hire the space for lessons and workshops.
- Used digital pianos are selling better than any other product. That's according the piano dealers on the panel. Why are they selling better? They offer the best chance of making profit as they are pre-owned. If you have never considered selling used pianos, now might be a good time.
- Online lessons hosted by piano dealers may be the future. Each piano dealer on the panel admitted they need to do a lot more of this. Customers want to see your pianos in action. So why not post a short piano performance or lesson, hosted in your showroom, once a week?
NAMM hosted hundreds of seminars throughout the week. Other seminars we particularly enjoyed included Essential Strategies for Selling on Amazon, Proven Ideas to Increase Lessons Sign-ups in the New Year, and Music Marketing in the Era of Digital Streaming.
Our trip to NAMM was certainly one to remember. The people we met, the pianos we touched, and the music buzz we felt left us feeling truly encouraged for the future of the piano industry.
If you are a pianist, piano teacher, piano dealer, music journalist, composer, or just simply a piano enthusiast, you definitely want to consider NAMM 2021. It'll blow you away.
Main photo credit: © Getty Images