There’s a good reason why you’ve been hearing those classic, warm synth sounds on the radio over the last year or so. Following three decades of digital interfaces and sampler dominance, a new generation of musicians desiring a return to warm, pure sounds are fuelling a resurgence in analog synthesizer retail sales. In the past five years alone, Moog Inc., Korg USA Inc., WMD and other brands who will present their synths and electronic products at the 2017 global music products NAMM Show, have helped drive the analog synth market to a 19.9% growth in total retail sales.
The data, provided by 2016 NAMM Global Report, underscores a re-emergence of players captivated by the tactile playing experience of analog control surfaces as musicians favor working knobs, faders and other features in lieu of digital displays and computer interfaces.
“Players are realizing that an analog synth is much more of a real, honest-to-goodness musical instrument,” says Dave Smith, founder of San Francisco-based Dave Smith Instruments. Nate Tschetter, Manager of Music Product Marketing at Yamaha adds, “Many are choosing analog because it’s immediate, and while analog is definitely ‘in,’ it’s more about the ability to create unique sound and having it sound good.”
Tatsuya Takahashi, Korg Synthesis Chief Engineer and designer of the company’s minilogue synth, understands the importance of unparalleled usability and musicality. “Whenever I design a synth I try to break down barriers between man and machine – the musician needs to be inspired physically and emotionally to create their own music. It’s evident that this thinking has resonated with current trends that turn away from difficult and complicated systems, often inside of computers, in favour for dedicated hardware that often do less functionally, but are great at what they do in a musical way.”
With professional-grade analog synths ranging from the low-hundreds to several thousands of dollars, Korg and several other makers of electronic instruments are also continuing to meet the demand by releasing new and redesigned synths at price points that are very accessible to a variety of musicians of wide-ranging backgrounds. “The power-to-affordability ratio is also phenomenally-favorable to the synth enthusiast,” says James Sajeva, director of technology brands at Korg’s Melville, NY headquarters. “In the case of a reissue [synth] you can get ‘the’ sound and workflow for a fraction of what an original – in even remotely good condition – would fetch.”
For synth pioneer Moog, Inc., the boom in sales at retail is no surprise. The company’s list of legendary synth music-makers have included The Beatles, Keith Emerson and Led Zeppelin, who utilized Moog’s music machines designed for a “particular sound and feel that hasn’t been duplicated and is musically-desirable.” In a departure from the typical trade show approach, Moog Music will use their booth space at NAMM 2017 to honor the staggering number of guiding lights the synth community has lost in 2016.Through a unique digital interactive experience, Moog will encourage reflection and celebration of artists like Pauline Oliveros, Keith Emerson, Bernie Worrell, Jean Jacques Perrey, Isao Tomita, and Don Buchla.
On the whole, electronic music products were one of the strongest performing music product segments in 2015, posting near double-digit retail growth in 2015 at 9.9%. The electronic music products category, comprised of keyboard synthesizers, controller keyboards, electronic pianos, rhythm machines and electronic drums, touted a retail value of $238.3 million in 2015, and this year, the category has already reached more than $155 million through Q3. Additionally, digital pianos are enjoying a renaissance and are up 24.38% in retail sales and 13.1% in units sold over the past 10 years.
The NAMM 2016 Global Report is designed to offer the music products industry discerning industry trends and opportunities for businesses to shape their vision, business strategies, and seek out new markets. The report is compiled from independent data sources from around the world including The Music Trades magazine and the U.S. Census Bureau. This year’s Global Report compiled data from 24 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Dave Smith Instruments, Yamaha, Roland, Korg USA, Inc. Moog Inc., Verbos Electronics, Make Noise and other multiline product manufacturers will be among the more than 75 exhibitors presenting 260 different synthesizers and related equipment at The NAMM Show, being held in Anaheim, California, January 19-22.
Australian Musician will be at NAMM in January presenting, news, interviews and all of the action as it happens.
Learn more about the NAMM Show at https://www.namm.org/thenammshow/2017.