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My Winter NAMM 2020 Experience...

This year I thought I would change it up and try something new. The Audio Engineers Society (AES), for which I am also a member, hosted a series of workshops (under the title AES academy) at the Hilton Hotel, adjacent to the convention hall. The cost for AES members to attend the AES Academy was $25.00. Since my NAMM ticket was free via my work (Los Angeles Film School in partnership with Avid - Thanks Avid!), I thought I would splurge and buy a ticket to attend some of the workshops. The workshops were held every day of the convention from Thursday through Sunday. I, however, was only planning to attend on Saturday and Sunday, since that is all my teaching schedule would allow. At first, it was hard to decide which training sessions to attend. I must admit, I changed my mind several times before the actual day of the event. Finally, I settled on three sessions that sounded interesting to me. The first one on Saturday was a workshop from 10am to 12pm by Townsend Labs. It was about the Sphere L22 microphone and microphone modeling software. The second one was a workshop from 12pm to 2pm by Sonarworks, regarding their Reference 4 software. While I am a big fan of both these products as I had already done some rather extensive research in advance, I was a bit disappointed. The workshops seemed to be more of a sales pitch than an actual hands-on experience. I would rather have had my hands on the product and actually worked with it. The workshop on Sunday was a discussion panel titled “Education in Audio Production.” Again, I was sadly disappointed as this panel was terribly mislabeled. It should have been called 101 Tips for Students Graduating from an Audio Production School. When I saw a panel of people with similar qualifications to mine along with the panel title, I thought (wrongly, I might add) this would be a frank discussion. I was expecting a Q&A about audio production jobs, students, learning outcomes, and the future of our industry. Again, I was sadly disappointed.

My time on the floor shopping and looking at products wasn’t really any different than any other year I have attended NAMM. A few new products here and there. For example, the new Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Luna by Universal Audio. All the hype they tried to create around it, to me, seemed overdone. The software and keyboards by Arturia were enjoyable enough. I usually try to find one small vendor that has something interesting, innovative, different, or new to display. Sadly, I didn’t really find one this year that piqued my interest. Along with business card swaps with salespeople, who want to scan your badge to put you on some mailer list, I ran into a few colleagues and friends. I also chose to donate a couple hours of my time as a volunteer at the AES booth, which turned out ok because I got to meet a few local colleagues from the organization. I volunteered on Sunday from 2pm to 4pm, which is one hour before the convention closes. Literally, no one showed up or had any questions. Maybe next year, I will volunteer during a busier time. I realize, for people who haven’t attended NAMM that many times, or who are new to the experience, it can be fun and exciting if not a bit overwhelming. Having attended for so many years, I tried to go with a mission or a goal to accomplish in the hope that something beneficial to my career will develop. Although I met my goal, I didn’t feel that this event was all that different from any other year.

Yet, I’ll see you next year at NAMM 2021!


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