FI V E M INUTE S W ITH
JOE LAMOND President and CEO, NAMM By Brian Berk Instead of covering Summer NAMM in a cover story this month, as is generally the tradition in our June issue, we invited Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM, to discuss the show in this interview. He talks about what to look forward to during the July 12 to 16 Summer NAMM Week, how to keep all the new players that joined MI during the pandemic engaged in music, plus much more.
The Music & Sound Retailer: There is a lot going on during Summer NAMM Week from July 12 to 16, including the National Association of School Music Dealers (NASMD) Show, an Alliance of Independent Music Merchants (AIMM) meeting, a Retail Print Music Dealers Association (RPMDA) event and the actual Summer NAMM Show. Tell us ever ything that will be going on next month. Joe Lamond: I think you laid it all out. My work is done [laughs]. It has been a long time since we have seen each other. Many groups in the industry have not been able to meet during the pandemic and are using the Summer NAMM platform as an opportunity to get back in the water. Our industry is so diverse. Within this diversity are groups that meet to really advance their segments, whether school band, piano and organs, or the touring industry. It is great to have them convene around Summer NAMM. It will make the week very effective for everybody. RPMDA will have a mini conference, as it had a virtual event the past two years. Also meeting are AIMM and the Event Safety Alliance, and Worship Musician magazine is hosting an event for those in that area of the business. And of course, there’s Summer NAMM, an independent, community music store event. It is different than Winter NAMM. There is one group of NAMM members who will not miss Summer NAMM no matter what. They are eager. They are market makers. They are the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit. They get knocked down seven times, they get up eight times. They are the samurai entrepreneurs. There is another group that will never come to Summer NAMM. They never went before. Winter NAMM might have been everything they needed. And this year in particular, some people are not feeling safe yet. I totally respect that. Some will not feel safe traveling for some time. What we are really focused on is the middle group. They have interest in going, a desire to go and to have a good return on investment if they go. But they are just not sure. We are trying to get them to go and join the samurai entrepreneurs. “You should go. Here is why.” They are great retailers, and NAMM University sessions can help them in their professional lives. And what I felt when I went to Nashville [last month] was this pent-up desire to reengage with the world and step out into the world. Nashville is one of the better places to do that. Summer NAMM is going to be a smaller gathering for sure. It will look different. But it is possibly one of the more important gatherings of our industry. I feel it is an obligation to produce this show. I feel it is a responsibility to create this platform. But I also feel the weight of making sure we get it right. We can provide a safe and secure environment for the industry to meet. The Retailer: Can you tell us what your first impressions 32
were when you visited Nashville last month and how it will be a safe environment? Lamond: When I was a road manager, I had a saying: “It is impossible to over-advance a gig.” You have to make sure every detail is covered. Every detail at every stop on a tour has to be organized. I wanted to see Nashville with my own eyes. I flew there on a Tuesday night and came back on a Thursday night. What I saw was a community that is thriving in spite of a pandemic. I saw it has found a common ground between taking care of everybody, but also recognizing that life is absolutely thriving. From the arrival at the airport to the ride to the hotel to getting to the hotel and the convention center itself, everyone was wearing masks. I really felt good about the respect everyone was exhibiting. Walking around outside in Nashville, people did not have masks. I met with all of the people we needed to meet in Nashville. On May 14, they dropped all [COVID-19] requirements. Nashville is leaving it up to companies, businesses, restaurants and hotels to decide. That was the date there were no longer any restrictions from the government. That was a big step. They had big events planned prior to our arrival. [In fact,] there were events at the Music City Center planned all the way up to our arrival. They are planning July 4 fireworks, which is a big deal in Nashville with 150,000 attendees. The week before we arrive, they will have had experience with large events. For the average NAMM member, if your store has been open already, this will be something you have seen before. For other NAMM members who have worked at home, I can tell you getting out into the world felt really good for me. I felt JUNE 2021