Moses Supposes: NAMM Slam 2012 — Can 92,000 be wrong?

Moses Avalon is one of the nation’s leading music-business consultants and artists’-rights advocates and is the author of a top-selling music business reference, Confessions of a Record Producer. More of his articles can be found at

Generally, NAMM is described by me as a 100,000-square-foot Guitar Center with about 70,000 people playing “Stairway to Heaven.”

Not this year. Aside from a record-breaking 92,000 attendees, NAMM has grown with the times, expanding from mere trade show to conference, power broker meet-‘n’-greet.

Up until last year, had an aspiring artist asked me, “Why should I go to NAMM? I’m not a retailer, or a sound engineer,” I might have had little to disagree with. But with the addition of HOT Zone and a few minor tweaks in policy, NAMM has turned into far more than a place to see the latest digital work station.

Now I would say that it doesn’t matter what aspect of the music business a person is working with; if you’re not at NAMM, you’re probably not deeply in the game.

NAMM has arrived, and with more than 300 new exhibitors (to add to the over 2,000 already) and a record attendance level eclipsing the population of several US cities, it’s also proving the death of yet another piece of tech-biased propaganda: that the music biz is fading away.

As I recall, last year it was a very male and very dry trade show. But for some reason (and I have my theories), the floor was decidedly more co-ed and with a fair amount of MILFie hotness. The tech-awards show and the Ernie Ball anniversary party attracted some high-quality talent — and with them, their very high-talent entourages.

HOT Zone

But the real unsung hero of the new NAMM was the establishment of HOT Zone, a conference within the trade show that became the epicenter of the best deal-making at the show. This was probably unintended, by founder and organizer David Schwartz, but the HOT Zone lounge on the second floor was the only space to have a quiet conversation in comfortable chairs, away from the hubbub.

Had you happened by, you would have been able to meet industry shakers shaking hands in a causal and very approachable environment. Alan Parsons was among them, giving a riveting workshop and hanging around after and the next day to shmooze.

My hope is that next year we see a continuation of this theme. If so, expect the nexus of deal-making to be made more at NAMM than any five music gatherings put together. At about $100, the price gives it my highest marks on my chart ranking Music Business events.


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