NAMM 2019: Where’s the innovation?

I’ve just returned home from my annual trek to the Winter NAMM Show. For those not in the know, NAMM (the National Association of Music Merchants) has put-on this industry event since 1901, one ostensibly held for the benefit of the music retailers. For media folk and musicians like me, however, it’s rather like an annual opening of the doors to the Willy Wonka factory, an endless fix of dopamine blended from everything music. From DJ gear to lighting to sheet music to band instruments to drums to guitars (lots and lots and lots of guitars), if you cover music gear or tech, it’s a must-do thing to go to Anaheim each year. In 2018, I and 115,000 or so others went; this year’s numbers aren’t out yet, but I’m guessing it was even bigger this year.

I probably saw it coming even last year, but this year’s show in particular was, in sum, a let-down. Whether it’s the fact that we’re clearly between technology innovation cycles at the moment (and have been for awhile), or the fact that I’ve become a bit jaded (likely), I found myself sort of shrugging my shoulders this year.

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