The biggest music industry show on earth

The NAMM Show through the Eyes of a Pro Audio and MI Translation Provider

The end of January! We pack the bags and head to Anaheim, California again. This will be our second NAMM Show, but this time in a slightly different role and lineup. In 2015, we don’t have a booth, but I will be a speaker at the H.O.T. Zone. Awesome! And this year, I fly with Karolina, our new Business Development Manager who I am sure some of you already know. Without further ado then, time to hit the road.We meet at the Warsaw airport at 5 am and start our journey. Quick transfer at Schiphol in Amsterdam and here we come America! The flight passes like a breeze, mainly thanks to the Football Manager game played on iPad. Unfortunately, I cannot win Eredivisie with Ajax Amsterdam. Perhaps on the way back. It brings back the memories, anyway. Sleepless nights trying to win the league during university times. “One more game and I go to sleep”. Yeah, right. Perhaps in 2 days.

LAX welcomes us with great weather. Well, at least for a Pole – it’s minus 10 Celsius in our part of the world at that time so this change is especially nice. Also the pace at which the US authorities welcome us is a great surprise. Last year, it was slow, crowded and not at all nice. Big improvement this year. Congrats, LAX! Keep up the good work. Just don’t destroy the locks in people’s luggage, please. A nice and well-worded leaflet inside is not enough. Or you could just accept the responsibility for the loss at least. I know it’s for my own safety and I truly appreciate that but that bag was with me for 10 years and it’s you who managed to destroy it. Well, almost. I preferred it when I opened the bag in the presence of 2 officers last year. At least it was all clear.

Anyway, a quick transfer with SuperShuttle and we arrive at the Marriot, very close to the Anaheim Convention Center where the NAMM Show is held. I fall asleep almost instantly, Karolina goes to the Convention Center to collect her badge. The show starts tomorrow!

We leave the hotel in the morning, dressed in ATL’s orange polos so that all people can recognize us easily. I think I saw Matt Dodge from Slate Digital in the parking lot outside the hotel but perhaps I was wrong (later it turned out that it was Matt, indeed). It’s nothing exceptional, actually, because you see so many faces you know from LinkedIn and last year’s show that it’s hard to remember everyone and it’s hard for everyone to remember you. Soon after we pass the security check, we see our display case. Well done, Freeman. We take a few pics and enter the show floor. I always feel like a child in a toy store there and it’s one of those feelings I do have to fight because I am there for business, after all. The more I stare at all those fabulous pieces of gear, the less I speak to people I came to meet there. One of the first people I bump into is Bruce of MicFX - our neighbor from last year. It’s always great to meet that guy and talk to him. I even had an opportunity to talk to Bruce’s wife on the phone briefly in Polish! Ewa, you speak better Polish after all these years than most of the people here in Poland, believe me. Thanks for a nice chat. After talking to Bruce and his team (cheers Nick and Dana!), Karolina and I split to walk around the floor and talk to people. During the 3 days we were at the NAMM Show, we met over 200 people from over 200 companies. Some of them we already knew like Mark Porter from Nektar (actually we met Mark last year when he was at sE Electronics, this time we also met his boss Niels), Chris Dauray from Rupert Neve Designs (congrats on TEC Awards once again, Chris), Matthew Foust from Audiofile Engineering, Nathalie Skladanek from Arturia, Ann Berggrein from DPA Microphones and countless others. We also met many new industry friends like Rodger Cloud from Cloud Microphones or Jared and Brad from Drumeo. I also bet that Karolina loved her chat with John Petrucci of Dream Theater.

One thing that struck me when talking to many people in the pro-audio and music industry is that despite the fact that they are all global and have their current and future customers in many countries, often they have their websites and marketing collateral only in English and in fact do not plan to translate and localize. Or they don’t have any strategy, which means that their translation MI efforts are quite accidental, decentralized and very often, they lose control over their content, if they translate at all. That was pretty strange but I guess it’s our role to pass on this critical message to the MI industry: do it professional and well-planned way from scratch. Only this way you’ll be able to measure the ROI of your investment in MI translation and measure your success. Customer satisfaction guaranteed. Actually, you should take a look at the session I had during the show on “Globalizing Music-Audio Sales”. It will change your perspective forever. How can a company spend $100,000 on 1 show (and does around 10 shows a year) and not have a budget for professional MI translation/localization for their pro audio and music products? Can anyone explain it to me? The export of the U.S. market (that constitutes 40.6% of the global MI) is worth around $2 billion. It has grown by around 17% in terms of value and 30% in terms of the number of items within 5 years. I know that not every industry is as wealthy as the medical industry, but hey, professional MI (Music Industry) translation is not reserved only to those who have budgets like medical or IT. Don’t let yourselves be easily fooled!

Doing business in the friendly atmosphere of the NAMM Show is one of the greatest features of that event. However, there were 2 more very important reasons for us to attend this year’s event. I was a speaker at the H.O.T. Zone, which I have already mentioned, and ATL was a sponsor of the 30th TEC Awards. From our perspective, the former was a very important and informative session for the pro audio and MI about how professional translation and localization is actually done and how to prepare for your MI translation efforts to get the highest possible ROI on the investment. Because the fact that you guys need it to sell more and English is not enough doesn’t require any further discussion. I hope you liked it and will find it useful as one of the attendees said “it was very informative”. Thank you. It was great having you all there. There was more to come, though. The one and only TEC Awards. There was some misunderstanding with collecting the badges, so a nice gentleman let us in as a Silver Sponsor of the event and soon we were seated at table 26 next to the Apogee/Avid table and next to Antelope Audio and other great pro audio companies. I last saw Sinbad in some average comedy in the 1990’s, so I was shocked at our host’s current form. He was absolutely brilliant! With a great sense of humor, not sparing anyone, even himself (“Give me one of those Gator cases – it’s very important to the black community!” was a masterpiece) and with insightful, yet totally amusing comments to the industry itself (“I have a MacBook Air, I am a pro sound engineer, man.”, to quote one of my favorites). Seeing Richie Sambora, Slash, Orianthi and Skunk Baxter on one stage together with Don Was plus Ed Cherney and Nathan East was like a dream. Plus we gladly discovered that among the nominees was a product from Poland, namely Bettermaker 542 EQ. Actually we welcomed Marek, the guy behind this awesome piece of gear at our table and we had a really good time. Good luck, Marek!

Last but not least, I need to mention one of the most inspirational sessions I’ve ever had in my life. Usually, I am not a big fan of all those coaches doing all sorts of those strange behaviors to tell you that you are all that you are not but they think you need to be to do business. All these pretensional golden thoughts that should make you a better business person by all those self-proclaimed gurus of self-development often look so ridiculous that a man is likely to ignore even those who have something valuable to add to you as person and a businessman. Kind of primary school psychology packed in a shining box. But not this time. Two words, ladies and gents: Steve Wozniak! One hour of truly valuable insight into something that you feel you have always known deep inside but you needed a person like Woz to tell it straight in your face. The book about Steve Jobs was a great inspiration to me personally, but Woz’s remarks easily surpassed everything I read in that book. “A little bit of misbehavior means a creative mind” – he referred to himself in the context of what he was talking about and the stories from the book, but it was a huge and important reference to the MI. Thank you Woz. By the way, I am considering wearing trainers with my suit after this session. How about that?

We had to pack again before we noticed. A quick trip to LAX, Amsterdam and Warsaw (Football Manager was a life-saver and a time-thief once again) and after around 20 hours both Karolina and myself were back home. Jetlagged to death but so happy. Thank you and see you all next year, NAMM!

To feel the atmosphere of the NAMM Show, click here. Enjoy!

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