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Show Report: Sweetwater GearFest 2020

George Petersen • FeaturesJuly 2020 • July 10, 2020
One of GearFest’s highlights was its online programs, including this “Live Engineers Panel” that included top touring mixers (clockwise from lower right): Karrie Keyes, Salim Akram, host Mitch Gallagher, Jim Yakabuski, Mike Bangs and Jerry Lopez.

One of GearFest’s highlights was its online programs, including this “Live Engineers Panel” that included top touring mixers (clockwise from lower right): Karrie Keyes, Salim Akram, host Mitch Gallagher, Jim Yakabuski, Mike Bangs and Jerry Lopez.

Sweetwater, the world’s leading music technology and instrument retailer, presented its annual GearFest on June 26-27. This year, this massive celebration of music instruments and pro audio gear was a completely virtual online experience. In total, more than 125,000 gear fans from around the world tuned in to GearFest online.

Unlike many industry trade shows, which are held primarily for manufacturers and retailers, GearFest remains the only event of its kind and size to veer from tradition and remain open to the “virtual” public from all over the world.

Sweetwater founder and president Chuck Surack said, “While GearFest will be experienced differently from what we’re used to, we are excited for the opportunity to bring this one-of-a-kind experience to our customers, fans and all lovers of music, while keeping health and safety a top priority for all.”

Part of GearFest’s Online Livestream of particular interest was Sweetwater’s Mitch Gallagher hosting the “Live Engineers Panel” where moderator Mike Bangs (George Strait) joined other top touring engineers — Salim Akram (Billie Eilish), Jim Yakabuski (Peter Frampton), Karrie Keyes (Pearl Jam) and Jerry Lopez (Run The Jewels) — to talk about relevant live audio issues. Among these included audio/control networking, dealing with mix surfaces, working with plug-ins, advice for novices trying to break into the industry and more.

GearFest featured a slick, easy-to-navigate interface for accessing more than 1,500 online product demo videos

GearFest featured a slick, easy-to-navigate interface for accessing more than 1,500 online product demo videos

Sweetwater did an amazing job on its virtual GearFest Online 2020. The 1,500+ demo videos from 350 manufacturers shot specifically for GearFest were set up like in-booth presentations of music, sound and lighting gear. The interface on the Virtual Gear Info web page is slick, with filter buttons that let you select to see the type of gear you want in different categories, such as “Live Sound & Lighting,” “Pro Audio” and of course, lots of music categories — guitars, drums, etc. Hats off to Sweetwater for creating an engaging online event; in fact, GearFest Online 2020 may be providing a sneak preview as to how other organizations should present virtual tradeshows in the future.

If you missed it, this and all the other streamed content and 1,500 manufacturer videos are available online at www.sweetwater.com/ gearfest/virtual-gear-expo.

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