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Sweetwater's GearFest 2016 - Official Show Report Thread


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Sweetwater GearFest 2016: The Wrap-Up

 

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was asked to do a workshop at the first GearFest. I liked and appreciated what I saw, and have been more than willing to help out ever since. Like Sweetwater itself, GearFest is 100% customer-centric. But, that attitude also carries over to the vendors exhibiting their products. The Sweetwater staff, easily identified by their blue shirts, are always milling around like an army of helpful ants. If you need anything, all you need to do is ask. I saw several Sweetwater employees helping manufacturers pack up after the show - instead of just taking off after a job well-done and going back home to their families. And they were even cheerful about it.

 

Dendy had never been to GearFest before and he was blown away. He kept saying over and over again about how polite and helpful everyone was. Unfortunately, when he brought up his Airstream, he was in a construction zone when a tire iron flipped up and ripped the underside of the Airstream. He loves that thing, so when he arrived at Sweetwater he was more or less devastated. But within short order, the Sweetwater folks were busy helping him set up, getting power to the Airstream, and generally giving him mojo that raised his spirits back up to their usual level.

 

Frankly, both Dendy and I were shocked that we were the only web site that came there specifically to cover GearFest. More than 12,000 people attended over two days, making it not only the most important music industry-related event in the Midwest, but giving it a significance that in some ways, exceeds that of Summer NAMM because of GearFest's public-facing orientation. We couldn't imagine not covering it, so we started pestering Sweetwater well over six months ago to let us bring up the Airstream and have a Harmony Central "command center" at the show. They seemed a bit taken aback at first, but welcomed us and I think they now understand why we felt it was so important for HC to have a presence. As a bonus, we met a lot of the Harmony Central community, but we also turned a lot of people on to the site...our newsletter signups were off the hook.

 

It's also important to recognize that GearFest is not even close to just being about Sweetwater. For starters, I'm sure they lose money on it; there's no way you can put on an event with the level of logistics GearFest requires, and let the public attend for free, as well as allow vendors exhibit for free, and expect to come out ahead. It also takes a lot of resources - work on the next GearFest starts immediately after it's over. I wouldn't be surprised if I get an email next week saying "Hey Craig, we're starting plans for GearFest 2017, got any ideas for workshops?" Also, the educational component of workshops and seminars is a crucial part of the event. Sweetwater expects people to come to GearFest to learn, not just exhibit gear lust. GearFest is about getting the world excited at the prospect of playing music, and getting better at their art. That puts its goals in perfect alignment with Harmony Central.

 

So once again, congratulations to Sweetwater not just for a job well done, but for not just giving lip service to "customer service." All the people at Sweetwater, from the lowest newbies to the highest level executives, have only one goal in mind: To make sure that anyone who attends GearFest has a totally positive and inspiring experience. And again this year, they succeeded beyond expectations. If you haven't attended GearFest yet, you will someday...and you'll regret not having gone sooner.

 

 

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And THIS is why Sweetwater has such rabid fans - they are customer centric in a world that is increasingly NOT.

 

​If I'm ordering online and Sweetwater sells it, then that's where I buy from - every time.

 

Nice guys *do* finish first...

 

Kevin

 

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And THIS is why Sweetwater has such rabid fans - they are customer centric in a world that is increasingly NOT.

 

​If I'm ordering online and Sweetwater sells it, then that's where I buy from - every time.

 

Nice guys *do* finish first...

 

Kevin

 

A local Nashville studio owner stated to me last year that he buys from Sweetwater because "Sweetwater IS the musician's friend!" I thought that about sums it up.

 

D

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