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Magazine Reviews

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by RAM, Oct 27, 2000.

  1. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Does anybody find these helpful anymore? I've seen a few threads lately where people have either benign or negative feelings towards magazine reviews...

    For example, some people have noted that it seems Bass Player's reviews are biased. In fact, one person noted that Epiphany's new cabinet was reviewed approximately one page away from the company's ad for the exact same product.

    I know in marketing that some companies pay for product placement. So, that could partially explain why the review and ad are placed so close to each other. But, what about the other side...do you think that magazines, such as Bass Player, are biased towards advertisers?

    And, for the record, I am in no way affiliated with any magazine or manufacturer of musical equipment.
  2. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    You know what I find odd about BP? The introduction of a player, and ads featuring that player, in the same issue. Most recently, they did an article a couple of issues back on Janice-Marie Johnson. First article on her in BP. Five pages later, there's a DR strings ad with her in it. First time that ad had run. In the June '98 issue, they did an article on Rhonda Smith. First time she had been featured. Turn the page, and there are brand new, never-before-seen ads for GHS and Lakland featuring her. I guess the idea is, introduce a player in the magazine, get people interested in them, and BAM! Hit them over the head with all the gear that player uses.
    I don't really use the product reviews.. I read them more for entertainment. I'd had my Reverend bass for more than a year before they finally reviewed one (although they had long ago mentioned it in the "New Gear" section.)
  3. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL

    It's interesting to me that you've noticed that as well!!! I think I first noticed it in an issue featuring Sting. This is a total guess on my part, but I'm wondering if Bass Player teams up with advertisers to use featured artists in ads. It does have more of an advertising impact. Interesting strategy, if that's what they're thinking.

    But, I also think it cheapens the musicians and the articles, don't you? Too much corporatizing...
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    As one who regularly advertises in business newspapers, my guess would be it goes something like this.

    BP contacts artist to do feature. Part of interview covers gear used by artist. After interview, BP calls manufacturer, say Lakland, and says, "Hey, we're doing a feature on Munjibunga this month and he uses your gear. Wanna put a picture of him in an ad playing his Lakland? We'll cut you a deal." There's really nothing underhanded about it. It's just the sales guys trying to max out the benefit of having the feature article.

    When my company buys a big ad in a paper, they say, "Hey, we'll throw in six inches of column space for a little advertorial. Write something up." So we get a little article in the same paper that our ad is in.
  5. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    I still find reviews useful. Any information, is better than NO information. I just disregard any bias on the magazine's part. Afterall...their business is solely to make money....any way they can.
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    As long as you keep in mind that the reviewers are not you, there shouldn't be a problem. There's no telling how gear will mesh with you until you actually try it.
  7. You think that BP is bad at having an artist and an add featuring that artist in the same magazine? I bought a Bassics magazine with Billy Sheenan on the cover and they had ad 3 ads featuring him! They had the Yamaha bass ad, they had the Ampeg preamp Billy Sheenan ad, and the Snarling Dog's strings!
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I don't use reviews to pick out a piece of equipment, but I DO use them to help my decide what equipment to demo.

    I demo'd a Pedulla Rapture J2 5 string after reading their ultimate 5 string shootout as well as a couple of others that they raved about, and while I agree with most of what they said about the Rapture, I took it all with a grain of salt until I actually played the bass myself.

    They are strictly a guideline, IMHO, and the chance of some bias existing is one of the reasons why.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I will still always buy magazines, but I agree that I just think of them as letting you know what's "out there". I would never buy a bass or amp without trying them myself first, in a shop, anyway. But it's useful to know what new stuff to look out for and possibly why, but I never take the reviews as a reason to buy. I think that half the fun is to try everything anyway and I wouldn't let anyone else bias my opinion in advance.

    What is useful in reviews is when they give you prices and factual specs - like weight, measurements etc.- things that aren't subjective. So for example, I wouldn't consider an amp or cab that was too heavy for me to lift, so it helps me to narrow my choices.
  10. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I buy various mags to see whats out there as well and also who has what and how much. Gear choice as discussed before is subjective. I personally like harmony central because the reveiws are written by people with various experience and writing skills. Bad reveiws dont affect their livelyhood. And reliability issues do show up. It is still your choice and money but more information is a good thing. Which is also why I come here. I dont always agree with everyone but you do a broad range of perspective and experience.
  11. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    Well, sorta.. I mean, I know if I was really in love with a piece of gear and the manufacturer wanted to feature me in an ad, I'd jump at the chance. It's not so much the corporatizing that bugs me, but the "strategic" placement of ads featuring players next to articles featuring the same player, especially when it's the first time both have appeared.
  12. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    LOL! :D:D:D
  13. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    I find most of the magazine reviews an acceptable way to get a feel for a piece of equipment. Bass Player does expect you to weight their rating based on price, as stated. I write software reviews (ZDNet these days), and as Editor of a shareware magazine used to deep-six mediocre reviews unless a point needed to be made -- you have limited space, and devote it to showing things to readers that will benefit them, not trashing the worthless.

    The "coincidental" advertising is well explained by Munjibunga -- it is not a cart before the horse situation. The ad folks are told that an issue is going to feature "x", and they will actively pursue advertisers that support that artist, and take advantage of the tie-in. This ain't Consumer Reports, folks - it's about profit.

    While I appreciate some of the reviews on Matt Schmill's Gear Review page at http://www-eksl.cs.umass.edu/~schmill/bass-rev.html (an EXCELLENT resource) as well as Harmony Central, many are short, non-specific, and worthless, and you don't know the writer's perspective, or if they don't have one and are just writing in the midst of "giddy gear acquisition" or have no real depth to appreciate the item vs. the rest of the market. OTOH, many are well written and quite useful if you know the writer's rep or get a feeling of knowledge from the words they have written.

    Bottom line is, my preferences are not your preferences, and vice versa. A good writer should qualify their conclusions where necessary -- you have to take a global view when you review anything -- just because it doesn't meet your tastes head-on, you have to put on your "everyman hat" and look at it and write about it as objectively as possible.
  14. I like BP magazine 'cause it gives me something to read when I'm on the throne.Their reviews are helpful and probably biased.Oh well,who isn't totally free of biases.If they were to put my mediocre butt in their mag,I'd be thrilled and I wouldn't mind if they put me on the other pages with so and so's endorsement.Call me a sell out,but I'd enjoy my 15 minutes of fame.BTW,if anyone on this site has ever run a business of their own,you know the importance of advertising,and that's partly what BP is about,business.

    "I don't want the whole world,just your half of it."
    They Might Be Giants
  15. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I just got the November issue, and as a dedicated reader since 1994, I'd like to share a little fact that irks me.

    On the current issue, there's an article about James Alexander, which sports a picture of J.A. playing an old Ibanez Roadstar bass. Now, you and I know that BP loves to talk gear and that they'll beat you over the head with brand names till you plotz.

    Anyway, in the J.A. article, The editorial staff (no doubt with some incentive from the Ad Dept.) decided to describe the bass as a " '80s model Ibanez", and I think that's simply because there are billions of inexpensive Roadstar basses floating around that are a better buy than the currentl crap, er, crop of Soundgears.

    It could be argued that one single article would not Offset Ibanez's sales, but the move was obviously done as a nod to the advertising dollar. Sure it happens all the time, but this time they omitted information. Vintage Fenders, by contrast, can be freely touted and written about because they command high ticket prices in the market, prices which are higher than new ones.

    I'll still get BP, but it just ain't the same BP that came out of GPI years ago.

    Will C.:cool:

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