"Hi. We're having a big headphone party and would like your company to help pay for it. You can come set up your gear like the rest of us headphone geeks, but you'll have to pay 30 times more than we do for the privilege.
A headphone hobbyist asking this question of a headphone vendor 10 years ago would have been laughed off the phone, but recently over thirty headphone vendors said, "Sure, that sounds like a great deal." They were rewarded with the pleasure of meeting and schmoozing with many hundreds of the worlds hardest-core headphone enthusiasts. How did this happen? And for goodness sakes, why? It all started four years ago when the immtbiker of the New York contingent on Head-Fi said "Let's have a National Meet!" The NY team managed to talk a couple of handfuls of vendors and a couple of hundred members into coming. The annual gathering of headphone geeks was born. Over the next four years the event grew. Let me point you to the Head-Fi member impressions threads for the "First Head-Fi National Meet" in Bayside NY, "The 2007 International HeadFest" in San Jose, "CanJam 08" in Ft. Lauderdale (Mike thought the name HeadFest was a little sketchy), and most lately "CanJam 09" in LA.
Aaron, Al, Mike, and John had help from lots of other members pulling these events off, but the fact remains that a total of roughly $150,000 in vendor revenue over the last four years is an astonishing feat for a self-organized pack of hobbyists. The more important question is "Why?" The easy answer is to have a big headphone party. Headphone geeks may spend many hours in solitary bliss listening to sick headphone rigs, but all that ecstasy is hard to contain.
Headphone enthusiasts love to talk about their gear and listening experiences --- check out the "Equipment Forums" at Head-Fi --- but they take it much farther than that. They've discovered headphone rigs are relatively portable, and hold headphone meets regularly all over the world. Often times, it's just a guy inviting a handful of other local hobbyists over to
his house for a little get-together, but in some areas it has grown to the point where hotel conference rooms are rented out and 50 or even 100 members show up with all their gear. If you'd like to find a meet near you check out the "Meets, Parties, and Get-together" forum at Head-Fi and search for a meet near you. Or, if you're brave enough, register, start a thread, and announce a meet at your house. The point is, that's what CanJam is about: getting as many headphone enthusiasts together as possible and having a good time listening to headphone gear, talking about the music we love, meeting friends old and new, and partying like rock stars. (Well, not quite, but closer than you'd expect.) This is an event by and for the hobbyists; vendors are in the picture because, well, someone has to pay for the fun. The vendors get a good deal for their dough though. First, you couldn't ask for a more willing audience. In fact, the official Head-Fi motto is "Sorry about your wallet." Members expect to spend bux in this hobby, and that directly benefits the vendors. Secondly, and more importantly, many of the vendors were members first who had a good idea and turned it into a small business. Vendors are properly called "Members of the Trade" (MOT), and the truth is they usually just as enthusiastic as the hobbyists ... if not more. No, at this event all the lines are blurred except the one that surrounds us all in our love for music and great audio reproduction. And with that mission, dough aplenty from an enthusiastic trade, and a fresh look from a new organizer every year, the question that remains now is not how or why is it happening, but what is going to happen at CanJam next year? I'll tell you one thing for sure, it will be a happenin' happening. Anyway, big thanks to jp18801 (Jonny Numbers), 909 (David), Edwood (Ed), Iron_Dreamer (Peter), Jasper994 (Aaron), LFF (Luis), and Velogreg (Greg) for a great event this year. And future props to next years organizers. I wonder what you're going to do? Don't worry though, lots of previous organizers are around to help, and the only ball you have to keep your eye on is how to make a good time for headphone enthusiasts old, n00b, and pro. The question for you dear reader is: Will you be with us enjoying the happening when CanJam strikes again next year? Picture sets of CanJam 2009: Scorche, AMB, Gokiburi, Cryo-Parts, and Positive Feedback (Thanks for coming, Dave.)