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Coming Live from NAMM 2018 – Day 1 & Day 2

Coming Live from NAMM 2018

You know you are at NAMM when you take the wrong escalator, find yourself in a room full of
stunning guitars and the first people you literally bump into are Gary Holt of Slayer talking with
BINX, the South African pop/rock singer known as the African Bee. NAMM 2018 promises
to be bigger and better than ever. With over 100,000 registrants, a stellar lineup of talent, and
new technology at every turn, for artists and journalists it is Christmas in January. NAMM
outgrew the Anaheim Convention last year and a new building was added this year specifically
for NAMM. The buildings, arena and plazas that house NAMM are full of every conceivable
kind of music instrument, technology, and service plus a lot of musicians.

binx and slayer

Music rolls out from demonstration booths of the over 5000 brands from 50 countries
showcasing drums, pianos, synths, speakers, lighting, orchestra instruments, recording
equipment, DJ gear and even VR music technology. The outside stages feature a continuous
stream of bands from Lucy and La Mer to the Get Down Boys, Parlor Social and Incindio. Plus
the She Rocks Awards, A Roomful of Pianos Concert and the Grand Rally for Music Education
featuring Forte, all packed into 4 days.


What’s at NAMM this year?  Technology, technology, technology.

One of the most interesting offerings is the Music Reality Engine by the startup SURVIOS.  It combines Oculus Rift headset and a new Electronauts programming that creates virtual instruments. Included is a library of songs from across genres – EDM, trap, rock, hip hop and more.

You put on the headset and electro gloves and stand in front of an array of sensors. Select the music you and move with the grove, pointing and slashing and rocking.  The sensors translate your movement into drum hits, instrument notes, colors and sound.The experience is immersive, potent, a little dizzying at first, but lots of fun.


For DJ’s it is serious business.  Because  you can feed the audio/visual image to a screen or computers, your audience can experience the 2D and sound version of the 3D world you are creating. Or you can link with others on the system with headsets and play together.   Your original tracks are not altered, but your reality is because as you play surreal new worlds emerge and surround you.

The Music Reality Engine is not yet available, but Suvios promises a creator beta for PC & Mac this quarter with a roll-out later in the year.


NAMM 1.26.18  

NAMM Day 2. Women at NAMM…lots of them.

As NAMM 2018 opened, the US Annenberg Center’s Inclusion Initiative released a study of gender balance in the music industry that was so devastating  it kicked off the “White Rose” movement at this year’s Grammys – asking Grammy attendees to wear a white rose to draw attention to the imbalance.  The study found that 90.7% of the Grammy nominees between 2013 and 2018 were male and that 9 male songwriters were responsible for 20% of nominated songs. It also found that women comprised only 2% of music production – producers, mixer, engineers.

A casual stroll through NAMM 2018 indicated that this may be changing, at least from the bottom up.  While there are no gender breakdown figures available from NAMM, it felt like there were more women in the aisles, on the stages and in the booths than I have seen before.  There were women testing acoustic and electric guitars, drum kits, DJ technology, mixing boards, lighting panels, in-ears, software…everything.  There were so many women walking the aisle and crowding the cafes with guitar cases that I stopped noticing.  It also felt – and I have not confirmed this – like the stages also featured more women this year, not just at the mic, but on the instruments.

This may be an artifact of the Southern California location of NAMM or some other anomaly.  But  I did notice posters in the instrument booths and demo rooms included women players as well as men – the industry certainly sees women artists as a good marketing opportunity.  This is not to say that much of NAMM is not a man’s world – it is, but it is no longer unusual to see a woman testing a drum kit, or talking shop with a guitar representative or asking questions during a demo of virtual DJ programming.  My own observation as a music journalist this past year parallels this – many more women are on stage with drums, basses, keyboards, lead guitars, percussion – and getting respect.

Tonight is the She Rocks Awards Ceremony, which will likely talk about the results of the USC study as it honors women in the industry – executives and produces as well as artists. The Awards have been moved from its hotel ballroom site to the House of Blues to accommodate  more people and a surge of interest.  I suspect many of the women testing gear at NAMM will be there.


NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen at NAMM Show 2018 at the Anaheim Convention Center on January 25, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images Getty Images for NAMM)


The Killer Queens perform onstage at NAMM Show 2018 at the Anaheim Convention Center on January 25, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images Getty Images for NAMM)


Singer Lauren Daigle performs onstage at NAMM Show 2018 at the Anaheim Convention Center on January 25, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images Getty Images for NAMM)


Orchid Quartet performs onstage at The Breakfast of Champions during NAMM Show 2018 at the Anaheim Convention Center on January 25, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images Getty Images for NAMM)

Stay tuned for more coverage – check back here to see it!

https://www.namm.org

Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist and radio broadcaster based in Los Angeles, California, with a global following. His two weekly radio programs, MusicFridayLive! and MusicaFusionLA are heard nationwide and in the UK. He focuses on two music specialties: emerging bands in all genres, and the growing LA-based ALM genre (American Latino Music) that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America like cumbia, banda, jarocho and mariachi. He also likes to watch his friend drag race.

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