The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here

Front and Center: NAMM Trade Show Operations Director, Cindy Sample

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 5.12.35 PMIf you’ve ever attended a NAMM Show, you know just how huge and overwhelming the event can be. It’s easy to simply get lost in the crowds of people, dazzling booths displays, live performances, instrument demos, artist appearances and more.

Directing a convention the size and scope of  NAMM is clearly no easy task. Planning requires months of preparation, along with tireless organizational skills and drive.

 With almost two decades in trade show experience, NAMM’s Trade Show Operations Director Cindy Sample has all the qualifications to organize such an event. Since joining NAMM in 2013, she has overseen production and implementation of the Summer and Winter NAMM Shows, ensuring that they run smoothly and and successfully.

Below, we sit with with Sample to learn more. Visit to find out the latest news from NAMM.

WiMN: Prior to joining NAMM, you worked on more than 100 trade events with Outdoor Retailer, ASD, Interbike and many others. What was it like to transition into the music industry?

CS: Like the others, NAMM is a lifestyle event. These industries are filled with individuals that are passionate about what they do. It’s not only their career, but it’s their daily lifestyle as well. With each show that I work on, I get inspired and want to be a part of it and bring it home. Now I want to play every instrument there is! We got our two boys on guitar lessons and they love it.

WiMN: What kind of organizational methods do you use for keeping track of the details for such HUGE events?

CS: I live by spreadsheets. All our budgets, requirements, schedules and documentation I do in Excel. It just works for me and my team. Between Excel and Outlook, I’m pretty covered. If a meeting or item is not in my Outlook calendar, it basically doesn’t exist. When you’re juggling a full time job, travel, so many meetings and kids, you live and die by your calendar organization.

WiMN: How was Summer NAMM? What kind of response did you receive from attendees and exhibitors?

CS: Summer NAMM was amazing! It was the largest show in 6 years and we have received so much positive feedback across the board from our members, exhibitors, attendees, media, local Nashville businesses, event partners and vendors.

It was not only larger in terms of booths space and attendance, but we had incredible events that offered so much added value to those members and attendees that invested their time and money into coming to Summer NAMM. In staying with the tradition of NAMM shows, we had plenty of live music, education and great parties and networking events. The Insight 2.0 with Vince Gill and Tom Bedell topped it off. You can’t get that kind of gathering and insight into the industry anywhere else. It was one of a kind.

WiMN: What kind of new events/features can Winter NAMM attendees look forward to?

CS: Once again, we are seeing growth in booth space and participation. There is demand although, it’s tough to fulfill due to the wall-bound nature of this show in Anaheim. The city is working on an expansion and we hope to see that come to fruition very soon. We are emphasizing networking areas throughout the show and especially in the Grand Plaza out front. Plenty of live music, food trucks, craft beer and special events will continue in 2015.

Both Hilton and Marriott lobbies are being renovated, so the stages and live music areas will be that much more exciting for our members and attendees. You can also expect an amazing Breakfast of Champions Session on opening day with our special guest to be announced soon. There’s so much going on during NAMM, you’ve just got to check out our website and download the app, and you can stay informed.

WiMN: What is the most gratifying aspect of your job?

CS: Knowing that the work we do here ultimately goes to a good cause.

NAMM has a vision and a mission and The NAMM Show is the engine that drives that mission. We’re able to support the music products industry and be that association that is the ears and the voice of the industry to help it continue to succeed. Then we get to help get instruments in the hands of kids.

Through the NAMM Foundation, we get to support efforts that fund music programs and keep music in schools.

NAMM’s vision: We envision a world in which the joy of making music is a precious element of daily living for everyone; a world in which every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught; and in which every adult is a passionate champion and defender of that right.

NAMM’s mission: NAMM’s mission is to strengthen the music products industry and promote the pleasures and benefits of making music.

Also, planning and organizing is in my blood, so it just feels right to be involved in something like this. It takes a lot of people to pull off The NAMM Show and I’m very fortunate to be a part of it and apply everything that I know to help make it a success.

WiMN: Do you play any instruments?

CS: Sadly, no. But, I am working on getting a piano and will also start playing guitar with my boys.

WiMN: Have you noticed any positive trends regarding the representation/inclusion of female musicians at the NAMM Show?

CS: We do showcase a lot of female artists on our stages throughout the show. We had Sheila E. on Friday night at the last show and she was amazing. There have always been incredible female singer/songwriters and I think we are seeing more on the business/music products side.

I know that Daisy Rock Guitars is very involved in the community to support woman playing. The She Rocks Awards takes place at NAMM each year and is a great way to support woman in the industry. We are always looking for new ways that we can help support the industry through our vision and mission.

WiMN: What’s in store for you for the rest of 2014?

CS: Each day, we are closer to The NAMM Show 2015, so it gets busier and busier! To ensure we plan the best event possible for our members and attendees and partner with Anaheim to welcome another fabulous event to the city. I’m looking forward to January!