Betty Heywood, Director of International Affairs at NAMM: The success of Believe in Music Week, and looking forward to The NAMM Show 2022

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Today, we’re delighted to speak to our good friend Betty Heywood, Director of International Affairs at NAMM. We talk about the success of the virtual Believe in Music Week gathering and how it will impact future NAMM events, and we look forward to getting together again at The NAMM Show 2022.

Q: For those who didn’t attend, could you tell us a bit about the idea behind Believe in Music Week?

Before I answer that question, I wanted to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of your line up of women in the MI industry, in this week that started with the International Women’s Day!

To your question: In August of 2020, when it became clear we couldn’t do it in the normal way, face to face, in Anaheim, we reimagined how to connect all facets of the industry while benefitting those most deeply affected by Covid. So going to a virtual event was the only way forward. In Swapcard we found a platform that allowed for a community to gather, network, launch and find new products, offer education for all segments normally gathering at NAMM Shows AND the fun networking events and star-heavy entertainment people expect when NAMM organises events.

In total there were hundreds of hours of content, put up both 1200 participating brands as well as ourselves and our partners, we had three days of live streaming, live concerts, interviews, and of course a fundraising drive, which raised over $500,000 for our nonprofit partners.

Q: Give us the headline figures – how successful was the virtual Believe in Music Week gathering?

Content on the Believe in Music platform was available until 28 February, and we’re glad to say it was utilised long after the actual week was over. At the end, we had over 95 000 industry leaders, buyers, sellers, music educators, artists, media and music makers from 187 countries and territories attend the event. Feedback from participating brands was very positive as well.

Q: What was your personal highlight from the event?

I have three! The first was the fact that it really felt like everybody was somehow getting together – I’ve attended a lot of events online over the last 12 months, and this was the first that felt like a community getting together (although I might be a little biased). The second has got to be the Global Live Stream on the Wednesday – as the earth rotated the chain reaction of musical artists from Australia to the US via India and Uganda handing off to each other was beautiful and very uplifting. The third was the sheer quality of content that our members put up and contributed, from the brands’ content I mentioned before, to musical contributions collated and produced by NAMM members around the world. So much of it was nothing short of amazing.

Q: How is the success of the virtual trade show going to impact future NAMM Shows? Do you think NAMM might use the virtual platform going forward for future online events, or even for a possible hybrid in person/virtual version of The NAMM Show?

We have of course been streaming live from our trade shows for years – usually the “big gun” events, such as the Breakfast Sessions, and other high-level programmes such as our Grand Rallys for Music Education. One of the most positive things was that we could gather people who had always dreamt of coming to the NAMM Show, but couldn’t for one reason or another (funds, travel restrictions, visa issues) make it to the US – the music makers, music educators  around the world, and industry folks. We had the highest number of international attendance at a NAMM event ever, and from more countries and territories than we could dream of assembling at the NAMM Show.  We’re working to make sure we keep those folks engaged and involved, so that the members participating in our events in person can benefit from these connections made, continuing into the future.

Q: After some really tough times for our industry, I think that there’s many people looking forward to getting together again at The NAMM Show 2022 in California. What are some things that we can get excited about?

I think just getting face to face again will be a massive relief and incentive for many people –as with manageable infection rates, vaccination rates, and future easing of travel rules and regulations, there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. The NAMM Show will once again return to southern California, January 20–23, 2022, as the largest facility on the west coast, the Anaheim Convention Center has taken a national leadership position in the US in implementing the latest health and event safety standards. While the show will likely look and feel a little different, it will be the same show.  We always say the NAMM Show is a big family reunion – and in this case it will be a historic family reunion at the Crossroads of Music, Sound and Entertainment Technology, with networking, education, and new products galore. And what better place than southern California for that? UK exporters who wish to participate for the first time have the chance to apply for the DIT’s Internationalisation Fund support to get financial support to exhibit, so get in touch with myself or with Alice at the MIA to find out more about that. We look forward to seeing the UK and European industry there, and joining us in celebration.