Steve Wozniak to talk music, tech and creativity at NAMM Show

Apple Inc. cofounder Steve Wozniak is not a professional musician by any means, but his guitar collection has some impressive pieces.

Among the items are an instrument he bought in Moscow during a show he financed for famed promoter Bill Graham, one of the first self-tuning Robot Guitars, and a Gibson Hummingbird presented to him by the guitar maker's chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz.

"It's the most beautiful-sounding guitar I have," the self-taught player said of his prized Hummingbird.

Still, what he's most interested in is technology, and how it can enable musicians to be more creative. 

"We humans have a certain amount of our brain that wants to be creative and different," Wozniak told The Times. "And now they’ve got a lot of range where they can go with very little money. And that means a lot of newcomers and a lot of fresh creators. Look what technology’s done so far." 

Wozniak will talk music and technology at Saturday morning's opening breakfast session for the National Assn of Music Merchants' annual trade show in Anaheim, where he will be speaking with the association's chief executive, Joe Lamond.

The outspoken tech titan, who started Apple in 1976 with Steve Jobs, is expected to discuss the music industry and share stories about working with Graham. 

New technology has enabled the creation of new kinds of instruments and sounds and different ways of making music, he said. For example, cloud technology has made it easier for musicians to collaborate over the Web and ultimately distribute their tracks. 

In addition, Wozniak says, computer technology has opened up a "virtual world" for musicians to experiment with new sounds and alternative ways to make music. It has lowered the barrier to entry for many people who may not be very proficient on guitar but still want their songs heard. 

"It's creativity," he said. "People are thinking in new ways and not just repeating what they've learned from books." 

The NAMM Show is the biggest gathering of the music products industry, drawing droves of manufacturers, retailers and musicians. More than 96,129 people registered for last year's event and 1,500 companies showcased their wares.

As far as what products will change the music industry next, Wozniak said he wants to wait to try them out before making any predictions. 

"I don’t like to judge products or services unless I use them myself," he said. "You have to have it in your hands and use your own muscles." 

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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