Those in the music industry know of the infamous NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) trade show that happens every January in LA(Anaheim).

Photography by Kenny Schick – Kenny is a music producer, engineer, singer songwriter & photographer, living in Nashville TN (from the Bay Area CA)  (see more photos here)

It is described as “the world’s largest trade-only event for the music products industry”, and you have to have a pass to get in. It’s mostly sellers and buyers of music related products/new products showing and buying gear, but there are all sorts of performances and famous people sightings too. In June, there is also Summer NAMM Nashville —it is the little brother(or sister—not sure if NAMM is male or female… let’s call it ‘gender neutral’ and say ‘sibling’), and like it’s bigger sibling, there is also lots of cool gear and famous people to be seen.

The Summer NAMM Nashville is a bit more geared toward industry meeting and professional development. Along with all the booths of gear, performances, and mingling, my favorite part of the NAMM show(s) is the educational opportunities/events—here, there are panels, discussions and all sorts of meetings of minds with the intention of bringing forth ideas about where the industry is headed in terms of technology, education, artist promotion, etc.

Most of my days at Summer NAMM Nashville were spent at panels about music and recording technology, the future of recording, and ideas for artist promotion. One of my main goals was to meet folks here in our new adopted city who are in my industry and love music as much as I do, so I spent most of June 28th – June 30th hanging out in the Music City Center in heart of our great city.

TEC Tracks

Well what did I learn and who did I meet? I started out at a TEC Tracks panel called ‘Crafting A Hit Record’, hosted by Chandra Lynn (Glow Marketing & founder LinkedIN).  On the panel were mastering engineer Andrew Mendelson (Georgetown Masters), singer-songwriter Jeffery Steele, and record producer Tony Brown (record_producer). It was a lively discussion from the perspectives of writers/performers and those on the production side—plenty of great studio stories and live performance perspectives on what works and what doesn’t—a good lesson in learning from mistakes and sticking to your guns!

Summer NAMM Nashville 2018
Crafting A Hit Record with Chandra Lynn, Andrew Mendelson, Jeffery Steele, Tony Brown

Next, I attended ‘The New MIDI for a New Generation of Project Studios’ panel. Here, our host pianist composer Joseph Akins, along with Singer Songwriter/Producer John Kurzweg, Producer Ryan Prewett, and Producer Scott Gerow, discussed new directions and ideas for how MIDI is used in today’s modern world of production. Perspectives came from folks like me who use midi to augment and blend with real instruments to folks like Ryan who use almost all MIDI in production.

Summer NAMM Nashville 2018
The New MIDI for a New Generation of Project Studios – Joseph Akins, John Kurzweg, Ryan Prewett, Scott Gerow,

Another panel I stayed for at Summer NAMM Nashville that day was called ‘Getting Paid and Credited—Lessons in Self Preservation’. This was very interesting and informative, and addressed the issues of how credit is often not given in the digital age, as there is not so much focus(as in the past) on albums with album notes etc., combined with the fact that it’s pretty much the wild west in terms of distribution/dispersion of music. This is not just the case for songwriters and performers, but for producers and engineers too—we often get jobs based on our past work, so it’s important, damn it!

Moderated by Producer Jeff Balding, panelists Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood, Jaxsta’s (official music credits) Dick Huey,  Audio Engineer Gebre Waddell, and Recording Artist Hunter Hayes had compelling insights. Two companies, Dick Huey’s Jaxsta and another company, Sound Credit are trying to help make data bases to better handle this issue.

Summer NAMM Nashville 2018
‘Getting Paid and Credited—Lessons in Self Preservation’ Jeff Balding, Dave Haywood, Dick Huey, Gebre Waddell, Hunter Hayes

I attended the opening night party at Summer NAMM Nashville where American Eagle Awards were given to Chick Corea and Manhattan Transfer for their contributions in music… great performances by Chick Corea, the Manhattan Transfer, and flutist Hubert Laws.

Friday, I went to the Studio Engineering Summit featuring Chris Lord-Alge’s studio heros! yay! featuring Julian Raymond and Nick Raskulinecz, producers who have all done records all of you know, it was just fun and exciting for me being such a studio geek…plain and simple as that! Also on the panel was Doug Wimbish, bass player from Living Color…. super great dude.

Summer NAMM Nashville 2018
Studio Engineering Summit featuring Chris Lord-Alge’s studio heros! Julian Raymond, Nick Rasulinecz, Dough Wimbish

Next up was the Studio Owners Panel moderated by Sharon Corbitt-House with panelists Aubrey Preston, Juanita Copeland , Producer David Kalmusky, and Pat McMakin . Many of the coolest studios in Nashville(and the world) were discussed, as these folks have been in charge of several of them from Ocean Way to The Sound Kitchen to Sound Emporium, and new studios like David Kalmusky’s cool Addiction Sound. And of course, there was a discussion on the saving of infamous RCA Studio B—thank you Aubrey Preston!

Summer NAMM Nashville 2018
Studio Owners Panel Sharon Corbitt-House, Aubrey Preston, Juanita Copeland, David Kalmusky, Pat McMakin

Also at the TEC Tracks booth, where I seemed to spend the better part of 2 days, was the Future of Studio Technology panel. Moderated by Journalist and Author Dan Daley, the panel included Craig AndertonBobby Holland, John Bigay,  and Dan Boatman. This was interesting to me, as I was around to see the time when we had to go to a studio just based on the size and complexity of the machinery that captured sound—those big ‘ol 2 inch tape machines and boards were no joke!

As a super early adopter of the ‘home recording’ revolution(I got an ADAT in the early 90’s which was the beginning of the ability to make album quality music at home accessible), this is always interesting to me, as it represents the democratization of recording, but on the flip side, sometimes the dying of a craft I hold dear. There was a lot of spirited discussion sort of aimed at talking about how a studio can now (almost) be an iPhone or a tablet.

Summer NAMM Nashville 2018
Future of Studio Technology Panel Dan Daley, Craig Anderton, Bobby Holland, John Bigay, Dan Boatman


By Saturday, I was experiencing the ‘shell shock’ that can happen at Summer NAMM Nashville (usually the first day in LA, haha), but there was more to see and do! This day was spent next door to the TEC Tracks booth at the NAMM U Retail – Idea Center Booth. I started out at DIY Tips for Marketing and Social Media Success… great discussions moderated by Laura Whitmore, with Kate Richardson, Dan Wise, and Sarah Command. Lots of discussion about cross promoting and partnerships, as well as being real and personal. Also, curating playlists on Spotify, etc., and coming up with ‘disruptive’ ways to become noticed in this saturated arena.

Summer NAMM Nashville 2018
DIY Tips for Marketing and Social Media Success, Laura Whitmore, Kate Richardson, Dan Wise, Sarah Command

Next up was Success Secrets for Independent Songwriters and Artists, moderated by Thornton Cline. On the panel were Bryce Hitchcock, Brenda Best, Trammell Starks, and Jenny Slate Lee. Again, discussing the tough terrain to navigate getting your music out to the world and how to find different avenues to get through the masses to achieve success.

Summer NAMM Nashville 2018
Success Secrets for Independent Songwriters and Artists, Thornton Cline, Bryce Hitchcock, Brenda Best, Trammell Starks Jenny Slate Lee

Now being the studio and production nerd I am, my day at the NAMM U booth was centered around being right up front for the Pensado’s Place Live at Summer NAMM session. Always with spirited discussions about audio geekery and great stories about recording sessions, Dave Pensado, and Herb Trawick joined up with Blackbird Studio owner John McBride for a super fun session. John’s story of the origins of Blackbird and the development of it’s academy alone were worth ‘the price of admission’.

Summer NAMM Nashville 2018
Pensado’s Place Live, Dave Pensado, Herb Trawick, John McBride


After this session, I wandered around stunned a bit more and tried to win some cool music gear as I usually do at these events, but I had one more event to attend in Berry Hill at my favorite music porn shop, Vintage King! Here was the destination for awesome gear, more panels, and… FREE BEER! Despite the oppressive heat outside where the panels were held, there was more captivating discussion during a panel moderated by Warren Huart(Produce Like A Pro) with panelists Jeff Balding, Ryan Freeland, Ryan Hewitt, and Kim Rosen. Following this was a session with Joe Chiccarelli interviewed by John McBride, back in his Blackbird Studios neighborhood.

Summer NAMM Nashville 2018
Joe Chiccarelli, John McBride

And just like that, my time at Summer NAMM Nashville came to an end, my head filled with ideas and knowledge, and my wallet filled with cards of folks I’d met. You can get tickets to NAMM and Summer NAMM Nashville by becoming a NAMM member. Also if you know someone who is a member they have the power (but limited numbers), to get you in. You can also apply for a ticket by registering to get your ticket – there is criteria for being able to get one, you have to be in the music industry as a professional or a teacher etc… they will give you a nay or yay on being approved and then you can buy a ticket, usually $50. It’s so worth it, there is so much to see, new technology, new products, new people to meet. This year at Summer NAMM Nashville, the public were allowed to attend on Saturday with a $20 ticket at the door. Lightening100 Radio also gave away $10 tickets on their show – and did live coverage of the event throughout the days.

Kenny Schick is a Producer, Multi-Instrumentalist, Recording Engineer and Singer Songwriter at Basement3Productions located in Nashville and the Bay Area California. If you are interested to know more about Kenny Schick or work with/record with him contact him here. He specializes in Producing Singer Songwriters and his main aim is to have artists retain their uniqueness and individual sounds. He tries to keep up to date with new gear and has all the tools you might need to produce world class music.

NAMM Music & Recording Gear mega conference.

The NAMM conference in Anaheim CA is the largest music and recording gear event in the world. Thousands attend from musicians, recording people like producers, engineers and musicians to teachers of music.

Although I’ve been heavily involved in the music industry for decades, I’ve somehow managed to never attend the NAMM show in Anaheim—until this year. It’s all quite overwhelming to a ‘NAMM virgin’, and it took most of the first day to adjust to being around 100,000 other music industry folks all dying to see the latest gear, attend lectures by industry leaders, hear music, and, of course, join other hopefuls in spotting rock stars.

Once I got a general feel for the layout of the show and a general idea how it was organized, I settled in a bit and was able to lose myself in the staggering amount of gear and products that are out there–instruments from the large makers down to the quirkiest boutique makers, software, DJ gear, accessories, and some of the best people watching you can imagine. It is a cacophony of sound and a visual assault that would cause an agoraphobic spontaneously combust.

I did my share of drooling both in the pro audio section and on many really cool instruments, but for me, the lectures were the most thought provoking and insightful part of the event. It was the panels that gave me the most food for thought about where this rapidly changing industry might actually be heading, and how I as a business owner within this industry might navigate these unsettled waters for a successful future.

The Global Impact of Disruptive Music Technology

One panel that was particularly interesting to me and got my juices flowing in both good and bad ways was called ‘The Global Impact of Disruptive Music Technology’. With panelists Jack Joseph Puig (multi-platinum producer), Marcus Ryle (founder/president of Line 6), Steve Slate (Slate Digital), Dr. Jeffery Smith (founder/ceo Smule), and Ernst Nathorst-Boos (ceo Propellorhead), the discussion focused on technologies that disrupt and challenge traditional practices in recording and making music.

Here at Basement 3 Productions, advancements in virtual instruments (particularly drums and strings in my case) have really been helpful in allowing me to make top notch recordings for singer songwriters at a price that an independent musician can handle. Though even with the minimal use of virtual instruments here at B3P, one downside is that I’ve replaced the need to hire out work to fellow musicians in some instances, but I can pass on savings to clients. With just this small example, one can see potential dilemmas, like we have certainly seen as well with the rise of digital media (mp3, AAC, etc) replacing physical media (CDs, tapes, records) and it’s impact on music sales/profits. Dr. Jeffery Smith’s company, Smule, is particularly in the front lines of the democratization of music–providing the ability to make music to the masses. This democratization is where the conflict begins to arise for me–where the obvious advantages of technology start to do battle with the cheapening of music as an art and a discipline. The other panelists companies fall more in the zone of helping musicians/engineers to get top quality sounds that would only have been achievable in big studios in past years. Obviously, the latter type of technology is in line with what I find useful and good—it has helped me create my whole business model—but on the other hand, the downside has been for big studios who have gone out of business, disrupting the livelihoods of many.

“…as a society, there is less and less knowledge about music, but way ability for the masses to create it…”


With technology on an a seemingly endless rise, are we going to see perpetual instability in the music industry? As an avid user (and AVID user) of technology, it is perhaps hypocritical of me when I start to suggest that technology is also in part severely damaging the music industry–but that dark part of the technology boom definitely exists too. One thing that came up that really hit me between the eyes was when it was pointed out that as a society, there is less and less knowledge about music, but way ability for the masses to create it. One panelist mentioned that Charles Ives had suggested that people would become way more knowledgeable of music in the future, but the complete opposite has happened. Yet there are an ever increasing amount of mobile apps, like Smule, go here to read more: SMULE APPS SOCIAL MUSIC NETWORK JESSIE J  that will allow users to ‘make music’ and put it out for the world to hear. And this is where I struggle with the internal voices that on one hand say ‘right on’ and on the others that are screaming ‘get off my lawn’. Part of me really feels that apps like this feed the annoying ‘entitled’ stance that is way too prevalent in all aspects of life these days. I feel like music is something one needs to work for, and with the experience and work ‘removed’, the whole joy of achievement and the joy of the process are also removed. For me, being human is all about a lifetime of mistakes and successes that lead to further growth–that is what is unique to being human and the very essence and definition of being human. If we allow technology to replace all this experience, then what happens to joy and accomplishment? I can say that as much as I utilize new technology, I don’t enjoy the process of making music quite as much–there is really something rewarding in the process and the time and struggle it takes to achieve one’s goal. The same has been true in photography too–even more so, I think, as everyone has a ‘camera’ these days and thinks they are a ‘photographer’.

“Part of me really feels that apps like this feed the annoying ‘entitled’ stance that is way too prevalent in all aspects of life these days.”

On the other hand, does it matter how one achieves and end result? If someone creates a brilliant song using apps to piece together elements in a creative way, isn’t that good enough? Maybe just the way in which creativity is manifested will change with the tools, but if the end result reaches and touches people, maybe that’s all that matters.


I have no definitive answers, but I do certainly have feelings and opinions. For someone who values music above all–from the creative process, to the execution, to the sound of the recording, I feel that technology might have done a little more damage than the good it’s also brought to the table. Technology brought us the mp3, which degrades the sound and impact of music. Earbuds and computer speakers are the new norm for listening. Autotune has often replaced talent. Elastic Audio and Beat Detective fix bad timing. Though I still think there is lots of great music being made, there is a major proliferation of crap to dig through to get to it caused by the ability to make it so easily. But new technology has made my business possible too, and has helped me to achieve some of the best production of my life. We can find new music in an instant, and listen to it anywhere. I suppose it actually sounds better as an mp3 on earbuds than it did coming off cassettes on my crappy Sony boom box. So back and forth we go.

I still feel that humans, despite all their flaws and imperfections, emote feeling in a way that machines don’t or can’t. The beauty of all art to me is it’s expression of humanity (the humanities…) –the struggle for perfection that may be the only purpose of each our existences. For me, I suppose it will be a balance that just ends up ‘feeling’ right. As Jack Joseph Puig noted at the end of the panel, one will always find what they are passionate about and will take what that need to achieve their goal. For me, at those times when I feel that the distraction of trying to keep up with the latest technology is getting in the way of making music, I need to remember that all the decades of studying and loving music result in the best tools anyone could have, and no technology is a replacement for that kind of experience, technically or emotionally.