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Learn. Play. Perform.

Pre-NAMM Day 1

It’s 1:30 here & I have just a few minutes to get an update in before I head off to the NAMM President’s Council meeting @ 2. The day has been packed with mostly meetings since 8 am Pacific time, and everyone’s running around setting up exhibits for the show opener tomorrow (Thursday).

Things kicked off this morning at the Guitar and Accessories Marketing Association (GAMA) meeting.
GAMA is an organisation that works to implement guitar programs in schools offering seminars to train music teachers around the country to develop programs in their schools. The overview of 2007 and the organizations accomplishments were interesting, however the highlight of the meeting had to be the address by Guitar Center mastermind and CEO, Marty Albertson.

During his talk Albertson touched on several key aspects of the guitar market and the issues we face in the upcoming year and what it may hold for the music industry. Alberston’s thoughts on recognizing music education and music teachers in the country were refreshing, since the 214 store Guitar Center chain does not have any music education programs, outside of it’s Music and Arts Center chain, to speak of. Albertson pointed out that more emphasis needs to be placed on music education while teachers need greater funding and resources if music stores such as Guitar Center, and others were to survive and grow.

Moreover, Albertsom believes we are moving into some economic headwinds for 2008 that may slow the growth of the music industry, but he remains convinced that the guitar segment of the music industry will continue to grow with the help of the video game, Guitar Hero III. Another surprise was Albertson’s admittance that Guitar Hero III was the music chains number one best selling item for the 2007 holiday period.

In 2008, Guitar Center has invested into, which allows anyone to post an album to iTunes or any music hosting company on the internet. It’s part of what Albertson thinks is a shift in the paradigm that is leaning towards a Do It Yourself movement for musicians.

Another note before I wrap this up – rumor has it around the show that electronics giant Best Buy will remodel 600 of their stores to add full scale music stores. Stay tuned…




The day started @ 8 am with the NAMM Breakfast of Champions where NAMM Pres. Joe Lamond had a panel discussion with industry leaders Henry Juszkiewicz of Gibson, Marty Albertson of GC, Bill Mendello of Fender and Kaman’s Ed Miller, plus Skip Maggiora of Skip’s Music in California.

On the Fender buyout of Kaman, Mendello said, “It’s very simple. Kaman was a company we could acquire and literally just let operate. It’s not a situation where the company is broken and we’re going to try to fix it.” If you don’t know, Kaman is a large distributor that owns the Takamine, Gibralter, Gretsch drum and Toca brands. Kaman has been a large, “one-stop” distributor for music retailers for years. I have direct word from Kaman that Fender sees the guitar market as over saturated with Strats and Teles, so they are very interested in the drum market and see that Kaman has some serious brands under one roof.

Guitar Center’s Marty Albertson discussed taking the company private, and what it will mean in the short term. “We’re going to significantly slow down the growth of new GC stores over the next few years”.

The floor opened for exhibits at 10:00 am – and the exhibits are what everybody is really here for.
Drummers, it’s your lucky day since:
A. I am a drummer by trade
B. That’s the side of the industry that I work in
C. That’s where the majority of my meetings took place today
D. That’s where I got most of my pictures!
E. Guitarists – this is what you get for all the bad drummer jokes (your day is tomorrow….)
There was some SICK drum gear on the floor from Pearl (see pic @ left), DW, dDrum,Taye, Yamaha, Tama, Pork Pie, Dunette, and just about EVERY drum maker on the planet! Most of my day was spent with reps and talking with drum dealers, so nothing major to announce right now, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so you will need to see the pictures in our photo gallery to believe the drum sets Pearl and dDrum had on display.

Paiste had a great booth along with Bosphorus, Sabian and Zildjian. Taye introduced a new limited finish on their hardware while Pork Pie and Trick drums both had amazingly HUGE bass drums at their booths (see picture). A few year sago at a PASIC show in Ohio, I bought some Factory Metal percussion that we have in our shops, it’s a strange mix of metal made into these cymbal like instruments…very cool and they have expanded the line with distribution from Kaman.

I did make it by the Mesa booth and a few other guitar companies, but I’ll put that stuff up tomorrow when I have more time and can get all of the pictures downloaded from my camera.

Oh yeah, did I mention in yesterday’s post that Guitar Hero and Rock Band seems to be the talk of the show? Peavey, Ludwig and a few others had these games in their booths and they ALL had crowds watching the people playing – interestingly, there were crowds watching real musicians play, too? See pic @ right from Ludwig booth…
I did have a run-in with Slash and Mick Mars. Slash was walking out of the back of the building to a waiting car. I rounded the corner and he came around the other side and we ran into each other. Mick Mars was standing at the Schecter booth. I got a picture of the booth earlier in the day and then saw Mick late in the afternoon.


It’s been a long week and a long day. I have about three hundred pictures from Friday and today (Saturday) that I need to download and post at some point. I’ll have to get to that later and post some news too…but before I retire for the evening one of the best NAMM show moments happened this afternoon in the technology wing of the show floor. Stevie Wonder walked in to a booth where I was checking out some recording software. His assistant was very pleasant and introduced me and a few others that were in the booth to Stevie (he does this since Stevie can not read names on badges). Stevie says without hesitation, “I dig your
shirt, the color looks great on you”. Oh yeah, Mick Mars looked frail over at the Marshall booth…

Wrap Up

If you’ve been following my other posts then you know it’s been a great trip to sunny California. We got in on Tuesday and have had nothing but a great show. Here’s the week in review:

1. Industry meetings kept me busy most of the week. I started off on Wednesday morning with a GAMA meeting and ended up presenting my drumset marketing programs for 2008/2009 at the PMC meeting ( I’m 2nd from right in picture above).

2. Thursday was drum day – I made my rounds to my endorsing companies and spoke to many of the people that I deal with on a regular basis, but only have a chance to see during NAMM. I also had a chance to meet Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer at the Alfred booth – Chad’s brother, Brad, is an Alfred Exec and is the 1st guy on left in the picture with me above.) I also ran into Slash (literally, I just about knocked him down at the bathrooms by the Gibson booth), meet Santana at the Paul Reed Smith booth, had a drink with

Herbie Hancock, meet Tony Levine (Peter Gabriel bass player) T.M. Stevens, Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue) and Dave Larue of the Dixie Dregs. As I made my rounds meeting reps I snapped pics of however happened to be at booths when I walked by, that included Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Jerry Cantrell (pictured @ left), Eric Singer (KISS), George Lynch, Joe Satriani, Kerry King (Slayer), Billy Sheehan, Nuno Bettencourt, Yngwie Malmsteen, Mick Mars (Motley Crue), Brian McKnight, Jon Anderson and Alan White of Yes, and yes, even Kenny G! You can find all those pictures in our photo gallery on our Progressive website.

3. I inked a deal for Progressive with Zoom to use their new H2 handheld recorder in our our teaching rooms. These are very cool little units that record direct to an SD card using 4 onboard mic capsules for 360° recording. The Zoom is super easy to use with remarkable sound quality. You simply push a button, record the lessons to either a WAV or MP3 file and that’s it. We’ll use the H2 to email the files to our students so they always have a recording of what they are doing. Students can pop the lessons on to their iPods or simple archive them on their computers at home. Very cool, very Progressive!

Progressive will also have the H2 for sale in our Wake Forest shop for $199.00, so students can use them for band rehearsals and recording any, and everything, they want!

4. Friday and Saturday were my guitar/amp and everything in between days. I have tons of pictures from the Fender and Gibson booths, plus shots from ESP, Jackson, Charvel, Dean, Orange, Mesa, Ampeg, Randall and tons of others to long to list. Probably one of the coolest things was seeing Eddie Van Halen’s original guitar in the Fender booth.

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