Biz Buzz: Newport Business Hits the Right Notes at Music Convention

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It’s the largest event held at the Anaheim Convention Center every year, consuming over 1.6 million square feet of space.

NAMM stands for the National Association of Music Merchants, formed in 1901. The convention brings together 1,600 different exhibitors representing over 5,000 distinctive brands from 46 countries.

Nearly 100,000 people attend NAMM, which brings in over $90 million in revenue to Anaheim and surrounding areas.

The logistics of moving and displaying thousands of instruments, electronic gear and every conceivable musical accessory you could think of is staggering—so why would a small business in Newport Beach attend such a cavernous affair and possibly be overlooked due to a multitude of distractions, and the competition?

L to R: Harry Hartmann & Dannie Hofmann
L to R: Harry Hartmann & Dannie Hofmann

That is the question that Dannie Hofmann asks and answers every year he attends NAMM and shares a booth with the inventor of a truly revolutionary product for anyone that plays a wind instrument.

Hofmann, who has lived in Newport Beach for 20 years, is a professional saxophone player. He’s toured worldwide and uses a lot of reeds—the thin strip which vibrates and allows the sax and most other wind instruments to make their distinctive sounds.

A normal reed, about as thin as a thick sheet of paper and looking like a miniature tongue depressor, has for centuries been made from a special reed which grows in Asia and along the Mediterranean. They are inexpensive to buy but have a short life span, usually measured in hours of playing time and lasting anywhere from one to two weeks. Though they are easy and inexpensive to replace, and about three to five dollars each, the bigger problem is the diminishing sound quality as they get saturated with moisture.

Enter technology and synthetics, and you suddenly have a reed that can last from six months to a year.

Hofmann discovered this reed while on tour in Europe. He was introduced to Harry Hartmann, the inventor and manufacturer of Fiberreed, a synthetic saxophone and clarinet reed.

“I started playing on one of his Fiberreeds the same night I first tried it,” said Hofmann. “Both of us being German, we established a good working relationship whereby I distribute and retail Fiberreed here in the US with superior service not available with the big music retailers. For the last four years I have been working with Harry at his booth at the NAMM show, and each year has seen an increase in sales and brand recognition.”

“This year we brought in Tom Wanne (formerly with Theo Wanne Musical Instruments) to launch a potent marketing campaign, and NAMM is a big part of this effort,” he added. “The NAMM show is probably the largest of the big music instrument industry trade shows in the world, rivaled only by Shanghai and Frankfurt. For anyone interested in the business of buying, selling or developing musical instruments and accessories, this is the place to see it all. Everyone, from the smallest to the largest companies, is showing off their latest developments and making connections to distributors, retailers, educators and marketing reps. These types of trade shows end up being really essential in marketing your business to other business.”

In a show environment like NAMM, it’s all about odds. Even though there are rows of pianos and guitars and everything else you could imagine having to do with making music, there are always those looking for specific items—and that is what Hofmann and Hartmann count on.

For more information on Fiberreed visit, or if you’re lucky enough to attend NAMM, which runs through this weekend, visit them at booth 3032.

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