Synthesizer sales soar, as sound “geeks” ride music’s latest wave
Synthesizers powering today’s chart-topping hits prepare to take the 2015 NAMM Show by storm January 22-25 at the Anaheim Convention Center. With artists and producers such as Lorde, Bastille and Trent Reznor relying on custom synth sounds paired with a growing interest in analog sound, many in the business predict synths sales to soar into 2015 and beyond.
More than 130 brands that produce synthesizers and related equipment will exhibit at the upcoming global music products trade event. This represents a 20% increase in the segment’s NAMM Show brand presence compared to 2014. The synthesizer market has nearly doubled its show floor square footage since last year, making this one of the show’s fastest-growing segments.
Continued popularity of electronic dance music (EDM) and indie rock has enticed more musicians, DJs and producers to dive into the synth world. “EDM artists have noticeably re-energized the market,” said Tom Oberheim, president of Marion Systems Corp. and an audio engineer best known for designing effects processors, analog synthesizers and sequencers. “The boom is spilling over into other genres and once musicians get into synthesizers, they want to take them into other arenas, and create more sounds.”
Since 2009, retail sales of keyboard synthesizers have increased 15.9%, propelled by an increase of 13.5% in 2013 alone. The number of synthesizers sold annually is up more than 32% in the last decade.
Analog synthesizer sounds can be heard in late ‘70s and ‘80s pop favorites including Depeche Mode, ‘90s industrial rock tracks from Nine Inch Nails and the last decade’s indie rock hits from MGMT and M83. Today, DJs, producers and artists are increasingly creating their own beats on analog synthesizers, rather than relying on software or samples from other musicians.
William Matthewson of William Matthewson Devices (WMD), which will exhibit 20 emerging modular analog synthesizer brands at the 2015 NAMM Show, concurs, “Pop culture is shifting toward the nerds and geeks who know how to really immerse themselves in this kind of analog equipment that is tactile, customizable, creative, and above all, totally inspirational.”
Boutique Eurorack modular synthesizers were until recently considered ‘fringe’ but are now gaining traction in the mainstream as a relatively inexpensive way to pack a lot of functionality into a small space. According to Tony Rolando, co-founder of Make Noise Music, the modular synthesizers on the market today appeal equally to the technician as well as the true musician. “They appeal to those of us looking for a deeper connection to the instrument,” he said. “People used to just play these instruments; now they are crafting their own sounds. It’s meditative, artistic and escapist.”
Oberheim, who will return to the NAMM Show as an exhibitor for the first time in more than a decade, also credits an overall interest in retro sound for the renewed fervor for analog. “There is a warmth to analog, an organic quality that captures the imagination,” he said. “It’s sort of like the recent affection for turntables and LPs versus CDs or MP3s.”
The synth boom shows no sign of abating as manufacturers continue to bring innovative gear to market. Dave Smith Instruments and Moog Music have significantly expanded their NAMM Show presence over 2014. Within the WMD and SchneidersBuero booths look for up-and-coming boutique synth builders such as Mutable Instruments, Verbos Electronics, Analogue Haven, Manikin Elektronik, EOWave and more. They’ll join Make Noise, Roland, Nord, Yamaha and many other established brands demonstrating the sounds of synth at this January’s NAMM Show.
The NAMM Show gathers 95,000 members of the music product industry from around the world to preview new products from every category of music making. Register for badges to experience more than 5,000 music product, instrument and technology brands, special events, and live entertainment. Limited exhibit space is still available. Learn more about the NAMM Show at http://www.namm.org/thenammshow/2015.
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is the not-for-profit association with a mission to strengthen the $16.7 billion music products industry. NAMM is comprised of approximately 9,200 member companies located in 99 countries. NAMM events and members fund The NAMM Foundation’s efforts to promote the pleasures and benefits of music, and advance active participation in music making across the lifespan. For more information about NAMM, please visit www.namm.org, call 800.767.NAMM (6266) or follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
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