Record-Setting GearFest For Sweetwater
...customer-focused music and pro audio festival and trade show, featuring exhibits from manufacturers, workshops, clinics, seminars, live demos, special performances, a musicians’ flea market, and much more.
This year’s festivities, held June 17 and 18 at Sweetwater’s corporate headquarters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, served up more opportunities than ever for musicians, engineers, and producers to participate. Customers traveled from all over the world to attend, breaking attendance records with more than 12,000 participants—up 20% over 2015. Sales during the event were also up more than 20% from last year.
“One of the most exciting experiences of my career was to personally greet thousands of our customers at the front door as they arrived,” said Sweetwater founder and President Chuck Surack. “Their enthusiasm for Sweetwater and GearFest was both astounding and humbling. Also, I can’t say enough about our incredible employees and their personal, caring, and welcoming interactions with each and every attendee.
“All this, plus its continued growth in overall attendance and sales, has made GearFest a unique event in the music retail business. Where else can musicians and audio enthusiasts come to see, hear, enjoy—not to mention buy—what is usually reserved for music industry insiders at your typical trade show. That’s what GearFest is all about.”
GearFest hosted a multitude of musicians in performances and workshops continuously on six different stages. Featured guests included Grammy Award-winning pianist and songwriter Jim Brickman; guitarist Andy Timmons, who has performed with everyone from Joe Satriani to the Beach Boys; Styx drummer Todd Sucherman; the progressive-metal band Periphery; Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Earth, Wind & Fire keyboardist Larry Dunn; Prince and Beyoncé drummer Queen Cora Dunham; the Chris Tomlin Band; and many more.
In total, GearFest offered more than 200 workshops and seminars, including sessions on guitar, recording, live sound, music creation with computers, acoustics, songwriting, and how to use electronic instruments. Housed in more than 20 tents, the event attracted more than 400 manufacturers of musical instruments, music technology, and audio equipment to give GearFest attendees a look at the latest gear.
A new special attraction was Sweetwater’s recently completed outdoor pavilion, which hosted a customer appreciation concert and party among other events. Music was provided by the Sweetwater All Stars, joined by special guests Queen Cora Dunham, Larry Dunn, Jordan Rudess, Paul Reed Smith, Nick Bowcott, Chad Wackerman, Geoff Daking, and Andy Timmons. Also new this year, Sweetwater offered free camping for tents and RVs.
GearFest 2016 also gave customers the chance to take in Sweetwater’s hugely expanded Music Store. Attendees experienced one of the largest musical instrument and audio gear stores in the Midwest, with the largest on-site inventory of any music store in the country.
For those who couldn’t attend GearFest in person, videos, photos, and updates were posted on Sweetwater’s popular Facebook page, as well as on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Attendees took part by posting their own pictures: Using the hashtag #gearfest, they could view their social media posts on a large display in Sweetwater’s Downbeat Diner.
Hourly prizes were given away, totaling more than $88,000 worth of musical instruments and equipment.
Interviews, demos, and more from GearFest can be viewed on Sweetwater’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/SweetwaterSound
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