Big NAMM Changes for 2018 - and You

by George Petersen
in Editor's Note
George Petersen, Editor of FOH Magazine
George Petersen, Editor of FOH Magazine

Within the audio community, the major topic of discussion at this year’s Winter NAMM show was the new Anaheim Convention Center North Hall, which is slated for completion later this year and will expand the show’s exhibit space by 20 percent.

A rendering of the New North Hall at the Anaheim Convention Center

Changes Afoot

NAMM’s plan is to move the current pro audio, live sound, lighting and entertainment technology exhibitors into this new venue that will be focused on those disciplines, with more floor space, demo and meeting festival areas and expanded networking and educational opportunities for the pro community. [For a look at the 2017 show, see our expanded Winter NAMM report on page 22.]

Located above a 1,350-space parking structure across from the existing Arena venue, the two-level new hall will seamlessly integrate into the NAMM campus via escalators and an air-conditioned skybridge connection to the second floor of the current convention center.

NAMM is clearly interested in engaging the sound reinforcement community, with this year’s expo also featuring a full day of seminars on live sound topics, as well as a Dante training/certification program. As most of the exhibitors in the current “A” and Arena halls would be moving to the new facility, NAMM was hosting meetings with key exhibitors and walkthroughs of the new space to allay concerns and promote plans for the expansion, before companies locked in their requests for 2018 exhibit space.

Four major new hotel projects are reportedly in the works, which should add more accommodations for the increased attendance; while at the same time, leaving the fate of some of the smaller nearby hotels — such as the Arabella — in question.

Timing is Everything

However, the bigger picture is what these changes could mean for the live industry at large.

The timing of any tradeshow is essential. The NSCA show’s merger with InfoComm left a vacuum in the sound reinforcement community in terms of a Winter/Spring show where new products could be shown in advance of the busy summer season. Attendance at shows earlier in the year would allow sound companies to consider new product launches at a time when they are busy ramping up and making plans to buy gear for the new year.

With this expanded space, NAMM could fill such a void, and its January dates would also be ideal for those companies dealing with the church market, as many house of worship installation/upgrade projects are often timed for completion to coincide with the busy Easter season.

Meanwhile, attendance at a summer audio show presents difficulties for many audio contractors and sound reinforcement professionals, who are busiest during that time of year, doing tours, street fairs, rodeos, concerts, July 4th activities, outdoor events, winery shows… the list goes on and on. On the contracting side, summer is prime time for construction projects —business, residential and industrial. It’s also the time when schools are closed — a perfect opportunity for rewiring, upgrading, installing, expansion and new building in the educational market.

What’s Ahead?

Exactly how the future changes for Winter NAMM will affect the pro audio market remains to be seen, but one thing is clear. NAMM 2018 could represent a whole new
(audio) world, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Or as famed Anaheim resident Walt Disney would say, this one will definitely be an E-ticket ride.

Check out George’s video introduction to the Feb. 2017 issue of FRONT of HOUSE Magazine at