Shows like the NAMM Show that’s just finished give us a great opportunity to get a feel for the mood in the industry, where the manufacturers and software companies think it’s going, and what may be around the corner.
Today I’ll let you into some of the trends, secrets, ideas and plans that the companies I spoke to have for 2014, including the kind of things that get discussed in bars and restaurants way away from the show itself, where people tend to open up a bit more.
- Quality not quantity when it comes to controllers – There wasn’t the usual pile of cheap plastic boxes pretending to be the next big thing in DJ controllers. The few new DJ products tended to be improvements on existing products that were already high quality to start with
- Training trumps trendsetting – They say it’s easier to hold on to the customers you have than find new ones, and we heard the word “training” over and over again: Companies are waking up to the fact that if they support and nurture their buyers after purchase, they’ll have customers for life. Expect more free training and more emphasis placed on showing you how you can use manufacturers’ products in the future
- In-app is where it’s at – Don’t know whether Serato starting to sell FX add-on packs for Serato DJ is what started it, but it’s a new buzzword; there is at least one very big surprise imminent for the DJ world in this area, but I expect to see more of this stuff as software companies have base products and add-ons that you can pick and choose from (a bit like production software)
- “Sample pack producers” may be the new DJs – We love this one. A dirty secret of much “production” is how it is done with sample packs, with DJ/producers arranging tunes out of pre-conceived sounds (why not? That’s what they do with finished tunes and DJ sets, after all). With all the sample pads and ever-better samplers in DJ software (again, watch this space for exciting news…), makers are realising that offering sample packs (along with a bit of free training – see point 2 above) will help DJs get on the road to becoming DJ/producers, which is of course where it’s at nowadays if you want to become a “name” DJ
- We’re through the worst! – “Disruptive” is a good word to describe digital’s impact on DJing over the last few years, and of course if you have a company that depends on this sector, you have to throw mud in the years where things change quickly to see what sticks. There was a sense at the show this year that people are starting to see more clearly the few years ahead, work out where they stand in the hierarchy, and buckle down to making some good products, rather than fighting for their very survival. That, and the (hopeful) end of recession, lent a calm, positive air to proceedings
- iOS is stalling – Is it that Windows 8 tablets are creeping up and making everyone nervous? Is it just that iOS was the “big new thing” for a while and reality needs to catch up with expectation? Whatever it is, iOS – at least in the DJing realm – moved forward very little at NAMM 2014. Sure there were good controllers (the Reloop Beatpad especially), but there was nothing really new. See the point above, though; in this case, I also thing it’s taking a breather while people work out where iOS DJing goes next. Watch this space on that one…
- Digital DJing isn’t going away (just like analogue DJing) – You know, TV didn’t replace books, records didn’t replace pianos, controllers didn’t replace decks, taping didn’t kill live music, the car didn’t stop people walking. What happens when new technologies arrive is what came before them remains, but gets used in different ways by different people. Just like the guitars, drums and synthesisers all over the rest of NAMM, DJ gear isn’t going away – it’s going to be here in 10, 20, 50 years time. And that includes vinyl. And controllers. And iPads…
Overall, it was the brightest, happiest and most optimistic NAMM I’ve been to in many years, and if half the things people are planning for 2014 happen, it heralds an exciting year for DJing. Of course, Native Instruments is silent and nobody is betting on that carrying on for long – so tune in for our Musikmesse (April) and BPM (September) show reports to see if they bring anything new to the table.
Thanks to Steve, Joey & Dottie for taking care of stuff back at Digital DJ Tips HQ while we did our thing in LA… and see you next time!
What was your highlight from this year’s NAMM and from our coverage? What did you think of our seven points? Please share your thoughts in the comments.