By Steve Young
Every January, over 60,000 people make their annual pilgrimage to Anaheim, California to attend The NAMM Show. The National Association of Music Merchants was founded in 1901 as a retail association to serve music-related retailers, but has grown to an international organization that includes manufacturers, distributors, industry marketing firms and other affiliates. Each year, NAMM puts on two conventions, the larger of the two being in Anaheim, CA each January (Summer NAMM is in Nashville). Manufacturers show off all of their new toys and Rock Star sightings are frequent. Think of it as Guitar Center on steroids (NAMM aficionados bring their ear plugs)! Because it’s not open to the public, badges are a coveted commodity. I remember being 17 years old and trying to fake the necessary credentials for obtaining a badge. I drove approximately 70 miles only to be turned away at the door! Since then I’ve been able to attend lawfully and legitimately. In fact, this year was my 31st consecutive NAMM Show! My wife says that’s nothing to be proud of! She might be right…
So what was the coolest thing I saw at NAMM this year? Was it the iPad controlled mixers from PreSonus, Soundcraft, etc.? Or the new RD2000 keyboard from Roland? The bright colors available from virtually every in-ear manufacturer? Pedals from Strymon? Guitars from Larrivee? Being 20 feet from Stevie Wonder as he and his entourage walked the floor?
In reality, the best and most awesome thing I saw at NAMM was……MY FRIENDS! You see, NAMM is sort of a class reunion. Many of the people I run into at NAMM are people I rarely see during the rest of the year, mostly due to geographical reasons. Yet, as I think back on 31 years of NAMM Shows, I do remember some of the really cool gear that was introduced. But mostly, I remember the people with whom I shared the experience! These relationships are refueling and inspiring, and often are catalytic in creating new partnerships or initiatives. And as a bonus, I always end up with a few new friends as a result.
As we consider pre-Easter sound, instrument or lighting upgrades, let’s not forget the value of relationships. NAMM is cool, and I love new
toys technology as much as anyone else. But community is priceless, and is one of the most valuable and effective tools we have in ministry. Instead of worrying about being High-tech, let’s be High-touch. Let’s all schedule an extra coffee. Or create a relational team event this quarter. Contact that worship arts leader you met at a WALI event but haven’t seen since. Handwrite a note of encouragement to someone who needs it. Trust me…it’s the most cutting-edge strategy that exists!