With retailers and manufacturers in a generally upbeat mood this year, the National Assn. of Music Merchants put the wraps on its 1993 Winter Intl. Music Market Monday after four days of exhibits dedicated to “Celebrating the Global Marketplace.”Now in its 23rd year, this year’s NAMM ’93 was the largest ever, with nearly 800 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees crowding into the Anaheim Convention Center to look at the latest innovations in the international music products industry. In addition to the comprehensive and eclectic collection of goods on display–from acoustic instruments, computerized recording gear, lighting and sound equipment to African drums and Indian percussion–NAMM ’93 also drew numerous top recording artists, including drummer Louis Belson, pianist and composer Chick Corea, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith and singer Eddie Money. The show also featured performances by “Tonight Show” musical director Branford Marsalis and former Motley Crue front man Vince Neil. While music manufacturers and retailers have not been able to escape the recession that has plagued many other industries, most attendees were hopeful that things were finally turning around. “I’m optimistic about how the manufacturers were in full show again with lots of new products,” said retailer George Kaye, owner of Reseda-based Kaye’s Music Scene. “The last couple of years it was a down feeling among people at the show and manufacturers. Everybody that I’ve been speaking to this year said that they were … much more optimistic about the future for 1993.” Added a retailer from Chicago: “People really have a feeling that the recession is ending and all the companies seem to be writing a lot of orders. Last year there was a lot of looking, but not a lot of ordering, but it’s different this year.” A spokesman for Yamaha, which displayed plentyof new products, including keyboards, guitars and a digital hard disk recording system, said business was better, although he added, “It’s still not good in Southern California, but our expectations are that we will do better this year than last.” And a spokesman for TASCAM, which unveiled its long-awaited digital eight-track recorder, said the introduction of plenty of new products at this year’s show was one of the factors behind the upbeat mood among exhibs and merchants. Innovative products “There weren’t a lot of innovative products coming out and everybody was just waiting to see when some interesting products would be available,” the spokesman said. “At this year’s show, there are a lot of products creating interest.” Most agreed that among the hottest new products on display were the digital recording systems shown by Alesis, Fostex, TASCAM and Yamaha, to name a few. The machines are finally hitting the market at prices starting in the $ 3,000-$ 4, 000 range — considerably lower than the $ 100,000 pricetags on most digital tape recorders several years ago. One question that still needs to be resolved, however, is that of tape formats and compatibility. Much like the battle that was waged several years ago between Sony and its Beta format and JVC and its VHS format, manufacturers of the digital recording systems have not settled on one format yet. While Alesis and Fostex push the S-VHS format for their machines, saying that S-VHS has almost four times the tape surface of 8mm, TASCAM is going with the Hi-8 video cassette for their systems. TASCAM, however, notes that the S-VHS machines require operating speeds three times higher than normal S-VHS speed, resulting in a shorter recording time. The absence of an accepted format seemed to keep many retailers waiting to see what happens with the digital recorders.
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