NAMM President’s Innovation Award Recipient Reflects on Impact of 2020 NAMM Show

Elizabeth Dale

The NAMM President’s Innovation Award honors college students who demonstrate excellence in the field of music and who are interested in pursuing a career in the music products industry. Receiving a one-time cash award of $750 to apply toward expenses to attend The NAMM Show in Anaheim, California each January, students are given an opportunity to attend professional development sessions and network with industry professionals. In 2020, NAMM was honored to send 103 students from 47 different universities to The NAMM Show and provide meaningful opportunities to jump start their future careers in the music products industry.

  • NS20 PIA Recipients
  • NS20 PIA
  • NS20 PIA
  • NS20 PIA

Riley Baisch, Senior at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia was one of the 103 students to attend this year’s NAMM Show. Baisch became interested in music when he entered high school. “Without access to strong music education programs, I would not be pursuing a career in music,” he stated. Crediting his high school band director with instilling his passion for music and helping to provide him with opportunities in music, Baisch went on to join a top-rated drum corps program which continued to open up doors and shape his perception on music and arts and the place it would hold in his life. As Baisch continued his education at George Mason University, he has continued to challenge himself to become a well-rounded musician.

After his NAMM Show experience in January of 2020, we spoke with Baisch about what it was like to attend from the perspective of a student with the hopes of one day entering into the music products industry.

What was the biggest benefit of the President’s Innovation Award to attend The Show?

The experience of attending The NAMM Show was incredible. I found that I I tried to enjoy as much of it as possible, soaking up all of the experiences possible in a very short span of time.

Did you attend any education sessions while at The NAMM Show? If so, which ones and what was your biggest takeaway?

I attended multiple educational sessions including “Change Your Mind, Change Your Playing,” “The Grand Rally for Music Education,” “Careers in Music Summit,” “Monetizing Your Music 101,” “Ukulele Circle,” and all of the Breakfast Sessions. While each session had its own individual impact and lessons, the biggest takeaway was that the music industry, as a whole, is much broader than what I had been exposed to as a student, and that there are countless viable and interesting career paths to choose from.

If you had any advice for students considering pursuing a degree in music business or a related field what would it be?

If the student is in college, I would tell them to go to The NAMM Show, and to do so by applying for the NAMM President’s Innovation Award. At The NAMM Show, students will quickly learn whether or not music business is a genuine option for their future career. If, after experiencing The NAMM Show and everything it has to offer, students find that they are serious about pursuing a career they should stay involved with NAMM. NAMM will provide them with every resource they could possibly hope for to get a jump start towards their career goals.

If you are a student interested in attending The 2021 NAMM Show on the NAMM President’s Innovation Award, visit, which will provide eligibility requirements and key dates for applying. Students are also encouraged to learn more about the NAMM GenNext program, a collaboration between The NAMM Foundation and The College Music Society that brings college music students and faculty to The NAMM Show. Information about NAMM GenNext can be found at /thenammshow/2020/gennext.