Resisting A Deal With The Devil

Editor’s Note: Even though we first published his editorial comment nine years ago, after re-reading, it I realized that it is no less pertinent today. So here it is:

A very odd thing happened on the last day of the NAMM show (the big musical instrument trade show that is held in Anaheim every January).

We showed up to our first appointment of the morning and were ushered into a back room where representatives of a company that will remain nameless subsequently ambushed us. In short, they informed us that they would withhold their advertising from DRUM! Magazine unless we promised to write positive reviews of their instruments.

Guess what. They blew it. Not only did they alienate the editorial staff of one of the largest drumming magazines in the world, they also guaranteed that we can’t review their instruments again, even if we absolutely adore them (unless, of course, the company changes its notions about media relations).

Think about it – if we give their products a positive review they will believe that they can dictate the editorial content of DRUM! by dangling advertising revenue in front of our noses. And if we give their products a negative review they will assume that we are only trying to exact some sort of schoolyard revenge against them.

The fact is, these guys aren’t exactly a bunch of Einsteins. They don’t realize that DRUM! is a consumer magazine, not a trade magazine, and that our ultimate allegiance is to our readers. If we consciously whitewash a product review about an instrument that has inherent design flaws, we not only do our readers a disservice, but also risk doing damage to our credibility. If our readers don’t trust the editorial content of DRUM! magazine, then the ads we sell become less and less effective over time. In the end, nobody wins.

So we’ve decided to live without this company’s ads, and do so proudly.

Now here’s what we ask of you, our dear reader: The next time you go out to buy a piece of gear, whether it’s a cymbal or set of congas, be sure to first check out the instruments offered by the companies that advertise in DRUM! Magazine. By doing so, you can rest assured that you are supporting percussion manufacturers that don’t resort to arm-twisting in order to artificially manipulate your opinions. Our advertisers are confident enough in the quality of their workmanship to let their products speak for themselves. And so are we, as a matter of fact.