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Editors' Blogs

The NAMM Show Report, And After

February 28, 2013

We are wrapping up production of our April issue, which contains 10 pages of NAMM reportage -- lots of cool products, lots of cool pictures. A really lengthy, in-depth article that takes a long time to put together. (Which is the closest thing you'll get to an apology from me for not having blogged yet this week.) As I was looking it over, I thought about the process of data-gathering that led to it.

NAMM is a very important show for us as a magazine; we make connections with the people behind the gear we review, talk about times past, present, and future, and look at trends and ideas. They are excited to show us what they have to offer, and to walk us through it and answer questions. It helps to guide how we put our editorial together for the coming year, and it reminds us that there are people behind the products who have worked hard on them and are eager for them to be seen and liked.

That's why I value face-time with manufacturers and in-depth, unscripted dialogue... and that's why I always get a little miffed when someone comes running into a booth with a video camera and a mic boom and says, "OK, give us the rundown" and is gone three minutes later. Instead of thinking about their presentations, booth staff fall into a rut of saying the same thing over and over again with some semblance of a smile, trying to be convincing every time (and some succeeding more than others). Pick a popular product from this past NAMM and do a YouTube search on it; you can watch the same guy saying the same thing twenty times with varying degrees of audio and video quality. I wonder if you can spot the early, fresh-faced ones vs. the last-day-of-the-show comatose ones?

Yes, my approach lacks immediacy... it's more editorial dialogue than up-to-the-minute reportage for an audience that wants to know everything and wants to know it right NOW. But I find it's more valuable to me in the short run and our readers in the long run for me to have these dialogues and plan our path based on ideas that are shared in those times. Video and photo reporting have their uses, and we do our share of Facebooking around trade shows, but we try not to let it consume us. Who knows? Maybe in a year or three, I'll be running around with a video camera and a boom mic too. But I don't think I'll enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoy NAMM now... and it remains to be seen if the readers will enjoy it either.

Oh, and on a personal note to the fellow who barged in on a conversation I was having with an industry rep by shoving a video camera over my shoulder, instantly turning him from a pleasant conversationalist into a script-spouting robot: Next time I won't be nearly so nice. You've been warned.

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