In 1983, the introduction of technology allowing the linking of electronic synthesizers with computers shook the music world like an atomic explosion. At the 17th Winter Market convention of the National Assn. of Music Merchants (NAMM) this weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center, the nation's instrument manufacturers and retailers did their best to see that fallout from that explosion continues to spread and touch as many people as possible.
Without any major innovations such as 1983's Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), which allows synthesizers and computers to communicate with each other, this year's convention drew more than 500 exhibitors and 25,000 visitors to explore product refinements, new applications for technology and methods of boosting business in the $2.5-billion musical instrument industry.
In the wake of statistics showing a steady decline in the number of Americans who play music, the association announced that it will sponsor a series of public service-type commercials in March aimed at encouraging more youths to take up music. Built around the theme "If You Really Love Music, Play It," a half-dozen 30-second ads scheduled to air on MTV will feature rock guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen talking about various ways music has affected his life.
"It's a new step for us," said association president Alfredo Flores. "Up to this time, NAMM's functions have not included the generic promotion of music. Music is more and more important to Americans today, but fewer and fewer Americans are playing music. A lot of people have a play-practice type conception of music. We are trying to show how much fun music can be; that it's not all study. Study is important, yes--but the message we are trying to convey is that music is the best indoor sport there is."