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  • Feb 03, 2018

    Old History and New Tech at NAMM 2018 | #173


    Mike Etchart and Guest Co-Host, Mike Castanon, are living it up at NAMM 2018 surrounded by their favorite things in the whole world, musical instruments! NAMM (the National Association of Music Merchants) showcases the newest, coolest tech, alongside the best classics in the music world. First, we chat with Universal Audio Product Specialist, Tom Waterman, about their part in the birth of the modern recording industry. Then, VP of Sales Operations for Roland, Robin Kelly, tells the story of when the TR-808 was first released, from failure to underground success. Next, we chat with Survios Director of Marketing, Hunter Kitagawa, about their new VR music creation experience, Electronauts. Former Chairman of NAMM, Dennis Houlihan, discusses the robust future of retail in the music industry and how musicians want a place to touch and play an instrument before they buy. Also, James ‘McGoo’ McGregor fills us in on his new app, PLNIFY, that makes your life as a traveling team easy. QSC Product Manager of Pro PA Loudspeakers, Chris Brouelette, describes how they’ve made PA and amplification tech compact and lightweight for the modern age. Then, Del Breckenfeld tells us about his charity benefit with the band, Gambler. Premier Guitar Publisher and Managing Director, Jon Levy, gives us some insight on the duality of musicians interest, and Fender’s wacky guitar on display in their booth. We wrap up the show with Vienna Symphonic Library Director of Marketing and PR, Martin Tichy, discuesses how they’ve made composing orchestral pieces simple. Find out more, here!


    • [00:00:00] NAMM, A Trade Show Like No Other
    • [00:06:09] Universal Audio and Bill Putnam Sr.
    • [00:12:30] The Revival of Universal Audio
    • [00:19:53] The TR-808: From Failure to Revolution
    • [00:27:26] The Customer is #1 at Roland
    • [00:35:54] Get Into the Music with Electronauts
    • [00:42:16] The Future of Retail and NAMM
    • [00:49:23] PLNIFY Your Life on the Road
    • [00:54:46] Bring Your PA Without a Workout Regimen
    • [01:02:09] Del Breckenfeld and Amplify EM
    • [01:12:18] Your #1 Source for Guitar News
    • [01:18:10] VSL Brings Orchestra to Your Fingertips


    Discover more about guests and segments below…


    [00:00:00] NAMM – A Trade Show Like No Other
    This week we’re across the street from Disneyland at one of the oldest trade shows of all, NAMM. The National Association of Music Merchants show is an annual convention that musicians and techies, like Mike Etchart and Guest Co-Host, Mike Castanon, pine for all year. No other industry blends old and new technology like the music industry, and it’s on full display here at NAMM. Cellos that haven’t changed in over 300 years are seated next to the latest digital audio workstations, amplifiers, and rock stars. Tune in to get a snapshot of this one-of-a-kind show.


    [00:06:09] Universal Audio and Bill Putnam, Sr.
    Universal Audio is a name anyone in the recording industry owes their livelihood to. Product specialist, Tom Waterman, gives us the history of renowned recording engineer and founder of the company, Bill Putnam, Sr. From the construction of ambitious recording studios, like Ocean Way and United Western, to visionary advancements in recording technology, such as the 610 tube-recording console, Putnam’s impact on the recording industry cannot be understated. His advanced recording techniques and tools were used by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, and other members of the Rat Pack. Learn about Universal Audio and their role in recording history.


    [00:12:30] The Revival of Universal Audio
    Universal Audio’s revolutionary legacy didn’t end with Bill Putnam, Sr., Tom Waterman tells us. His son, Bill Putnam, Jr. refounded the company in 1999; using his father’s old notes and electrical engineering knowledge, Bill Jr. brought back classic analog equipment in digital form for the new era in the late 90s. 20 years later, Universal Audio is one of the leaders in digital modeling, digital workstations, analog equipment, and bringing it all together. Universal Audio’s accolades don’t stop there, listen in to find out more!


    [00:19:53] The TR-808: From Failure to Revolution
    In 1981, Roland released the TR-808 and it was a huge failure. A few years later, the TR-808 was discontinued, but by that time it already gained a cult following of underground musicians who had scavenged old models from pawn shops. VP of Sales Operations, Robin Kelly, describes how this legendary drum machine went from consumer electronics flop to spurring the genesis of rap and hip-hop. This year, Roland has announced the digital release of classic synths, including the TR-808. Get your synth package for $20!


    [00:27:26] The Customer is #1 at Roland
    “We make the paint, we don’t make the painting.” This mantra drives Roland to get that ‘paint’ to us at a much more affordable price, and they’ve worked hard to advance their manufacturing to that end. When VP of Sales Operations, Robin Kelly, was in a band in the early 90s, a 4-track recorder was indispensable, if not expensive. Robin’s personal experience taught him an invaluable lesson and when people spend their hard earned cash on a product, they want access to the best support. The customer comes first at Roland; Mike can vouch for that, remembering all of the calls he made due to his D-50. Robin Kelly lets us know that classics like the D-50 are now available as a boutique item at a much reduced price. Also, check out the Roland GT-1000 at, it will blow your mind!


    [00:35:54] Get Into the Music with Electronauts
    Have you ever wanted to create your own jams but didn’t inherit Beethoven’s genes? Survios Director of Marketing, Hunter Kitagawa, tells us about their new VR music making program for beginners, Electronauts. Get into the music, literally, in this immersive music creation tool that empowers you to remix, create, and explore. You’ll need a home VR setup (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Playstation VR), but don’t worry, Electronauts won’t break the bank; It’s competitively priced in the range of triple-A video games. Visit and get immersed in the music.


    [00:42:16] The Future of Retail and NAMM
    The most prolific badge at NAMM has always been the buyer’s badge. We chat with former Chairman of NAMM, Dennis Houlihan, about the changing landscape of retail and how it affects the activities at NAMM. Buyers are at the show to kick the tires, test out the equipment, and ultimately determine what customers see in their stores. The future of retail in the music industry is much more robust than others due to the fact that many musicians prefer to touch, play, and have the physical interaction before they buy. Keep up with the ever changing musical marketplace.


    [00:49:23] PLNIFY Your Life on the Road
    James ‘Goo’ McGregor has been working in the music touring industry for ages. He knows better than anyone else that keeping touring artists on track can be tougher than wrangling your toddlers. That’s why when his partner, Victor ‘Peely’ Martinez, came to him with ideas for a tour planning app, he jumped on board. With a little hard work, these ideas turned into PLNIFY, the premier app for making management efficient, simple, and organized for on-the-go teams. Goo has had great success with the app in his own endeavors planning tours for Janet Jackson, Pitbull, and now, Beyoncé. Made and used by the best in the industry, PLNIFY is a must-have for anyone on the road. Get on the road at


    [00:54:46] Bring Your PA without a Workout Regimen
    Do you remember having to tote around giant, boat anchor PAs, accompanied by amplifiers, a pickup truck, and your one bodybuilder friend? QSC Product Manager of Pro PA Loudspeakers, Chris Brouelette, describes the technological advancements that have allowed them to bring us these systems in a small, lightweight package, amplifier included. The “class D” amplifiers in their systems run cool, and use onboard digital signal processing to apply filter sets and what QSC calls intrinsic correction (the QSC secret sauce). If you want access to a variety of settings are available out of the box, giving you crisp, clear vocals, and punchy bass, visit


    [01:02:09] Del Breckenfeld and Amplify EM
    When the movie makers in Hollywood want to make a flick about musicians, they consult Del Breckenfeld and Amplify Entertainment Marketing. With work on Walk the Line, Bohemian Rhapsody, and other successful film projects, Del is a proven name in the industry. We chat about his history in the musical world, including his time touring with a band called Gambler, alongside big names like Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, and Foreigner. It’s been a long time since the band Gambler played together, but they are set to do a reunion show at a club called Wire in Berwyn, Illinois to benefit a musical scholarship program for disadvantaged youth. Discover more at


    [01:12:18] Your #1 Source for Guitar News
    It’s tough to be a music publication in today’s market, but Premier Guitar has found their niche. Publisher and Managing Director, Jon Levy, describes how they’ve been able to capture the hearts and minds of the guitar and gear nerds everywhere. Thanks to the fact that the music industry, more than any industry, looks forward as often as they gaze longingly into the past. Musicians are a quirky bunch that revere vintage fetishism, while simultaneously recording music on their phones and playing wirelessly over Bluetooth. Also, Jon cues us in on an interesting guitar he spotted at the Fender booth called the Parallel Universe. Stay up to date with all things guitar at


    [01:18:10] VSL Brings Orchestra to Your Fingertips
    If you’ve ever watched a movie with an orchestral soundtrack (who hasn’t), then you’ve probably heard the Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL). Director of Marketing and PR, Martin Tichy, gives us the history of VSL; 20 years ago founder Herb Tucmandl was using sample libraries to create orchestral scores for his commissioned movie projects. He then got professional musicians to record single notes to expanded his library. Now, any professional composer in the studio worth his/her salt is using VSL samples with their sequencers to create the beautiful pieces of music that accompany your favorite films, TV shows, and games. Find out more about the Vienna Symphonic Library, here!


    Explore More with Helpful Links:

    • Guest: Mike Castanon | Guest Co-Host
    • Guest: Tom Waterman | Product specialist, Universal Audio
    • Guest: Robin Kelly | VP of Sales Operations, Roland
    • Guest: Hunter Kitagawa | Director of Marketing, Survios
    • Guest: Dennis Houlihan | Former Chairman of NAMM
    • Guest: James ‘Goo’ McGregor | President, PLNIFY
    • Guest: Chris Brouelette | Product Manager of Pro PA Loudspeakers, QSC
    • Guest: Del Breckenfeld | Chief Amplifier, Amplify Entertainment Marketing
    • Guest: Jon Levy | Publisher and Managing Director, Premier Guitar
    • Guest: Martin Tichy | Director of Marketing and PR, Vienna Symphonic Library
    • Link: Boss
    • Link: Electronauts


    This episode was produced by Entertainment Right Now (ERN). If you found value in this episode, and you’d like to hear more, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes and be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you don’t miss a beat. Your feedback helps us to reach more enthusiasts around the world! If you have a question you’d like us to answer, please leave a comment below or e-mail us at


    Program Host: Mike Etchart
    Producer: Jason Masters
    Production Assistant: Joanne Bolden
    Audio Engineer: Jason Masters
    Copy Editor: Cody Castleberry
    Guest: Mike Castanon
    Guest: Tom Waterman
    Guest: Robin Kelly
    Guest: Hunter Kitagawa
    Guest: Dennis Houlihan
    Guest: James ‘Goo’ McGregor
    Guest: Chris Brouelette
    Guest: Del Breckenfeld
    Guest: Jon Levy
    Guest: Martin Tichy

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