Revisiting NAMM 2020’s Biggest Controversies (Drumeo/Gibson)

Vistalite Black

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Each January, the drumming world’s attention shifts to Anaheim for the annual NAMM conference.

It’s hard to understand the appeal as many posters here complain of noise, headaches and a vicious flu that follows them home after four days of nodding at famous players while eating tacos and drinking huge margaritas in drum-wrap colors!

What NAMM 2020 did offer is controversy!

What do you know about Drumeo getting shut down by the “NAMM Sound Police” due to overly loud
“Performances.” Jared Falk’s lengthy statement betrayed a misunderstanding of the fact the big exhibitors play by different noise rules because they write the big checks!

Also, what was with Gibson threatening to go after makers of Les Paul and Explorer shapes with the banned “Play Authentic” video?

To read more about Jared, here’s a link:https://www.kevinhaydenmedia.com/drumeo-was-shut-down-by-namm-sound-police/
 

MaskingApathy

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Speak for yourself, I've never had any headaches or flu after NAMM. As far as that blog post and Jared's statement goes, he's not wrong. It's true that Yamaha has no issues because they're in their own separate building, and anytime that I've seen any booth shut down (drums or otherwise) it's always a smaller company. They would never go to, say, Zildjian or Gibson or another big company like that and try to shut them down. I've seen that first hand. As far as his argument that they shouldn't let in so many non retail people, he's not wrong about that either, but that ship has sailed. This isn't the NAMM of 20 years ago where it was pretty much only retail people and some big name artists/industry people. Thanks to me being able to go the last few years I've been able to develop some relationships with artist reps and network with musicians etc from all over the world, which I wouldn't have been able to do if I didn't go. He isn't correct about the majority of people there being musicians who want to meet artists and see gear; yeah that's a large number of people but there's a lot of people there who aren't just regular musicians. I think that if he wants to keep doing performances at his booth then there's other ways to do it where it doesn't disrupt everyone else (such as having a soundproof room with a little stage and PA like Korg USA does each year). In fact the soundproof room could just be the whole booth.

Basically NAMM isn't just a trade show anymore, it's so much more than that now.
 

equipmentdork

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So a drum company gets booked at NAMM, but can make no noise...unless you're a heavy hitter ($$$).

What's the point of even having a display, then? To put cymbals up on stands so people can look at them?

Can't certain booths be scheduled to be "live", if only for a half hour?

What am I missing here?



Dan
 

MaskingApathy

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So a drum company gets booked at NAMM, but can make no noise...unless you're a heavy hitter ($$$).

What's the point of even having a display, then? To put cymbals up on stands so people can look at them?

Can't certain booths be scheduled to be "live", if only for a half hour?

What am I missing here?



Dan
No that's not correct. You can make noise, it just has to stay under 85 dB (or whatever the limit is now). This includes scheduled performances and demos. Has to do with OSHA regulations.

I saw Steven Adler play at the Soultone booth a few years ago. He wasn't super loud but it was just a quick little performance and they didn't make a big deal about it so there weren't any problems. From what I saw last year Drumeo made a big deal about it each time they were going to have a performance.

 

ARGuy

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So a drum company gets booked at NAMM, but can make no noise...unless you're a heavy hitter ($$$).

What's the point of even having a display, then? To put cymbals up on stands so people can look at them?

Can't certain booths be scheduled to be "live", if only for a half hour?

What am I missing here?



Dan
Well, a drum company doesn't get booked at NAMM, in that they get asked or hired to be there. They rent the space if there is space available.
NAMM is still a trade show, primarily intended for manufacturers to show their products to dealers, not consumers, in the hopes those dealers will place orders based on having seen and tried the products first hand. Trying out the products, like cymbals, does involve playing them, but a dealer looks at that cymbal at the show as a sample, so they don't need to spend a couple of hours bashing away trying to find a particular cymbal to complete their own setup.
As someone else pointed out, the NAMM sound police didn't tell Drumeo that they couldn't make any noise, just that what noise they were making was interfering with the ability of the other companies, that had also paid for booth space, to do business. I don't find it hard to believe that the standards are not applied equally - I doubt that NAMM would be too upset if Drumeo didn't rent booth space at the next show, but they would be if Pearl or Ludwig pulled out. Business isn't always fair.
 

Vistalite Black

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No that's not correct. You can make noise, it just has to stay under 85 dB (or whatever the limit is now). This includes scheduled performances and demos. Has to do with OSHA regulations.

I saw Steven Adler play at the Soultone booth a few years ago. He wasn't super loud but it was just a quick little performance and they didn't make a big deal about it so there weren't any problems. From what I saw last year Drumeo made a big deal about it each time they were going to have a performance.

Glad to see this thread back in action ... I agree that the key element is that Drumeo "made a big deal about" each performance.
 

MaskingApathy

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Glad to see this thread back in action ... I agree that the key element is that Drumeo "made a big deal about" each performance.
Plus I had never heard of any of the people playing there when I was in that area, but I wasn't around there all day (unlike some people). That whole thing about how he's not trying to sell anything there, it's to promote drumming is a total lie. They're not making any transactions there at the show but they're encouraging people to check out Drumeo and hopefully make a purchase when they get home. So honestly he can promote his brand without having performances every hour.
 

Whitten

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Yes, back in the day NAMM was never a performance event. I see companies have been pushing the envelope more and more each year.
I helped N&C exhibit a couple of times in the early 90's.They actually built soundproof booths so I (and attendees) could play the drums. The 'sound police' were extremely active even 30 years ago.
It IS actually unfair. Various companies are sticking to the rules, and for example some company executive is trying to have an in-depth conversation with a music store manager who's flown in from Europe and they can't hear themselves think because some 13 year old kid is wailing on a synth at the next door stand. Back then, companies would try and push the envelope. In my experience the 'big hitters' were some of the most responsible.

I was asked by Roland to attend the UK drum show a couple of years ago to answer questions about a new product. The UK Drum Show is open to consumers and much less strict about noise. Honestly, the day was just one long drum solo at full volume - actually, three or four drum solos going on at once. I wasted my time because I literally couldn't hear the questions I was being asked. Almost all these drum solos are people trying to show off, maybe trying impress the manufacturer, which they never do. On my stand all the Roland guys were wearing in ear hearing protection, which made answering questions and having conversations with consumers practically impossible anyway.
 

esooy

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Plus I had never heard of any of the people playing there when I was in that area, but I wasn't around there all day (unlike some people). That whole thing about how he's not trying to sell anything there, it's to promote drumming is a total lie. They're not making any transactions there at the show but they're encouraging people to check out Drumeo and hopefully make a purchase when they get home. So honestly he can promote his brand without having performances every hour.
^^^^^ That, all day long.

As someone who was there, I can tell you it was beyond distracting and annoying. We weren't even near them. The sound level was much greater than "the big guys" and it was constant. Their booth was big, not a simple 10x10, so they ARE one of the big guys in my opinion. I, and many others I talked with, applauded the decision to shut them down. And going to another exhibitor and telling them that they "won't be in business for much longer" SIMPLY because they are trying to do business, is just reprehensible.
 

markkarj

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Surely there's a solution to this. People were talking about sound-proof booths... couldn't one be used and the output be reduced via a PA?

Or could the exhibitors that want to have louder displays be clustered in a hall?

I kind of compare it to going into a music store with someone bashing away at a cymbal or drum. I want to keep the volume down to a respectable level as I don't want to be insufferable around other people trying and buying.
 

esooy

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Surely there's a solution to this. People were talking about sound-proof booths... couldn't one be used and the output be reduced via a PA?

Or could the exhibitors that want to have louder displays be clustered in a hall?

I kind of compare it to going into a music store with someone bashing away at a cymbal or drum. I want to keep the volume down to a respectable level as I don't want to be insufferable around other people trying and buying.
There are many exhibitors that do just that. A fish bowl for the performer, with headphones around the perimeter.

And yes, it does come down to respect, something that was quite absent in that situation.
 

John DeChristopher

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Speak for yourself, I've never had any headaches or flu after NAMM. As far as that blog post and Jared's statement goes, he's not wrong. It's true that Yamaha has no issues because they're in their own separate building, and anytime that I've seen any booth shut down (drums or otherwise) it's always a smaller company. They would never go to, say, Zildjian or Gibson or another big company like that and try to shut them down. I've seen that first hand. As far as his argument that they shouldn't let in so many non retail people, he's not wrong about that either, but that ship has sailed. This isn't the NAMM of 20 years ago where it was pretty much only retail people and some big name artists/industry people. Thanks to me being able to go the last few years I've been able to develop some relationships with artist reps and network with musicians etc from all over the world, which I wouldn't have been able to do if I didn't go. He isn't correct about the majority of people there being musicians who want to meet artists and see gear; yeah that's a large number of people but there's a lot of people there who aren't just regular musicians. I think that if he wants to keep doing performances at his booth then there's other ways to do it where it doesn't disrupt everyone else (such as having a soundproof room with a little stage and PA like Korg USA does each year). In fact the soundproof room could just be the whole booth.

Basically NAMM isn't just a trade show anymore, it's so much more than that now.
I just want to point out that during the 24 years I worked for Zildjian, there were numerous times we were warned by the NAMM Police for infractions, usually the long lines of people blocking the aisles during our autograph sessions. I know because I was the recipient of these warnings. And NAMM had every right to do this - it was a fire hazard.

I believe there were times when they warned us that the volume was excessive. We didn't have people playing drum sets - just people bashing away on cymbals, which can get loud too. Did they ever threaten to shut us down? Of course not, because we complied with their rules. Did we receive special treatment because Zildjian is a bigger player? Absolutely not. Zildjian, like many other companies, is at NAMM to conduct business with dealers and distributors, not consumers. That has become a byproduct.

The problem the smaller exhibitors have is they're in an open space, usually in an aisle right next to another exhibitor, and they're all competing to be the loudest. That's what I notice when I walk down those aisles. I like to check out the boutique cymbal companies and smaller drum companies in that area, but I also like to say hello to old friends and it's become impossible to have a conversation past 11am on any given day at NAMM. But it's still a first world problem...
 

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The smaller companies started the phenomenon of street marketing. So they would identify consumers who were favourable to their product line, they would message them with offers of NAMM passes, and by feeling 'special' and flattered they had been invited to a trade only show and given a sneak peek of new products, those consumers spent the next six months raving about the small company's products on various forums and Facebook.
That's how you ended up with consumers wandering the trade halls at NAMM.
 

equipmentdork

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Well, a drum company doesn't get booked at NAMM, in that they get asked or hired to be there. They rent the space if there is space available.
NAMM is still a trade show, primarily intended for manufacturers to show their products to dealers, not consumers, in the hopes those dealers will place orders based on having seen and tried the products first hand. Trying out the products, like cymbals, does involve playing them, but a dealer looks at that cymbal at the show as a sample, so they don't need to spend a couple of hours bashing away trying to find a particular cymbal to complete their own setup.
As someone else pointed out, the NAMM sound police didn't tell Drumeo that they couldn't make any noise, just that what noise they were making was interfering with the ability of the other companies, that had also paid for booth space, to do business. I don't find it hard to believe that the standards are not applied equally - I doubt that NAMM would be too upset if Drumeo didn't rent booth space at the next show, but they would be if Pearl or Ludwig pulled out. Business isn't always fair.
Thanks for the clarification. Interesting that a company gets invited!

Dan
 

Houndog

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Jared was a jerk about it afterwards I remember.
Too bad , I’ve enjoyed a decent amount of Drumeo videos ....
 


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