I remember coming off of a major world tour in December of 2007. I had spent the year singing BVs, and stacking my bank account, but had no plans for what was next. During that tour, I released an album, launched my YouTube Channel, and had taken every opportunity to perform. The obvious options were to continue promoting the project to a newly discovered fan base (courtesy of my boss) and see where the road would lead. While I was conceiving plans for my solo career, my bandmates were planning to join other tours, and get in the recording studio. But before they launched into those plans, they all had to make one very important stop first – Anaheim, California.
No, not to visit the House of Blues, or Disneyland. Every year during the third weekend in January, musicians and aspiring artists travel from far and wide to this city to be a part of the world’s largest music vendor showcase. I call it a musicians’ mall, or maybe it IS Disneyland for musos, but the world music community know it as NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants. Sounds pretty geeky, I know, but it’s the place to be at the top a new year.
If you’ve never been, or even heard of it, the NAMM show features every brand of musical instrument and every conceivable music-related product on the market.
Well, back in 2007 I’d never heard of it, so I was very curious as to what all the fuss was about. But how does one even get invited to the hottest ticket in town? Simple. Just be one of those talented musicians who plays an instrument and that instrument’s brand will sponsor your way in! Only most singers, who play the vocal cords, don’t have brands that sponsor them, so we’re often not on the guest list. The sad truth is, even the microphones we use are not our choice and the mic companies are not depending on us to push their brand. Herein lies the challenge.
What good would going to NAMM do me if there wasn’t really a place for me?
Well for all you singers out there, NAMM is for you. The networking opportunities are abundant. Not only can you re-connect with all your friends, but you can also build new relationships to help keep moving forward in your career and towards that next gig. It’s also important to remember that staying “in-the-know” about new technology and instrument brands, upgraded software, trying out microphones, in-ear monitors and PA systems helps us stay educated about recording and live performance. There are even live performance opportunities that allow you to showcase your skills. And if you’re a hustler, don’t forget to bring your promo materials. It’s a grind, but well worth it! Or so I heard.
I decided to find a way in. After all, I am a singer. I am a musician. Heck, I just got off a tour with a major platinum selling artist, so I deserved to be there, and with the help of a guitarist friend of mine and his sponsor, I managed to snag a pass. That pass was a ticket to a whole new world of opportunities. Not only did I geek-out on all the new gear,
I managed to hustle up a few endorsements with brands like Mono (instrument travel cases), AKG (microphones) and a wonderful company called Artist Relations that connects artists with new and established brands. As most new years start with resolutions, and often some “down time”, make it your mission to visit Anaheim and experience the NAMM show for yourself. This year, we took iSing into the thick of the busiest day of the conference, to meet people, network, check out some performances, and discover what’s in it for singers.