January 18, 2021
I'm not saying things are good. But they are much better than I anticipated. I rarely (if not ever) use this platform for narrative that is not directly related to in-ear industry news. In fact, I've never even associated my name to any of the IEMITO articles or content that we've created. But these are different times and I am moved to share.
NAMM starts tomorrow and for me, this marks the 1 year anniversary of the pandemic. I remember leaving last year — catching news reports of a SARS-like virus making waves in Wuhan. I remember this distinctly because I stayed in Irvine for an extra week after the show (I used to live there) and while visiting my acupuncturist, concern was all over the Chinese office. Before I got home, friends from Hong Kong were calling worried, asking if I could send them medical supplies.
It was right there and then that I realized that IEMITO would fail. That this pandemic would wipe the fledgling organization out. And it was soul crushing. All the work that we had done would be for naught. All the new initiatives that I had discussed at NAMM would be stillborn. All the time, energy, and money spent going to NAMM would be wasted.
To say that I was devastated was an understatement. Live sound hadn't been canceled yet but I felt like I was watching a tsunami in slow motion. I was worried for our industry. I was worried for friends. I was worried for my career. I was worried about my employment.
Then I dared to publish an article about what would happen if the touring season never kicked off. And then SXSW got shelved. Then Coachella. Then the dominoes really started to fall. In the mayhem, all of my speaking gigs got postponed and I thought that at least half the IEMITO members would be out of business by the time the 2021 annual dues came around. I knew that IEMITO was over and I was paralyzed with dismay and disbelief.
The only thing that made sense at that point and that kept me going was this idea that there were others who were hit much harder than I was. I still had savings from my last gig and I had recently moved to a very small town with a very manageable cost of living. So I figured that the only right thing to do would be to funnel the membership dues back into the industry.
IEMITO joined PAMA so that we could share industry news with members (knowing that the funds would be put to industry use.) IEMITO gave to Crew Nation and helped support The Clinic's vision and initiative. We stopped publishing articles on the benefits of in-ear monitors since I can't think of anything more tone deaf and we simply focused on being a voice and a resource for the industry.
And then a funny thing happened. Fit Ear joined sometime in early summer. They joined even after they stopped making IEMs and were just producing face shields and other PPE.
No one went out of business. Not a single member. I know that no one is killing it but everyone has made it work. Do you know how many pivots and hoops and challenges that statement represents????
IEMITO didn't fold. Members who can, have contributed — even knowing that we made dues voluntary. And Yamaha and Audix both just signed on as new members. Not only did we not crumble, we grew. And for that, I am awed and humbled.
We're not out of the woods yet. And the pessimist in me expects a few more bumps and surprises. But I have to say, I'm feeling quite overwhelmed and damn right proud of how everyone has risen up and stood strong. And I am feeling overly grateful for everyone's support and trust and for enabling the organization to thrive and continue.