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Musicians - Did You Know You Are The Industry?

You have more influence than you realize...



by Dendy Jarrett




Dear Musician -

When I was growing up, selecting music gear was much easier. Why? Fewer choices. Making a decision required less research and buyer knowledge. Technological advances weren’t where they are today either, so that also made gear selection easier.  You didn't need a degree in physics to understand how a particular feature worked. Mirroring the days when television was limited to network stations and not much else, for electric guitarists it usually came down to the “big two”—Gibson and Fender. For acoustic guitarists it was the “big two,” Gibson and Martin. For drummers, it was the “big two,” Slingerland or Ludwig. Today, there are myriad choices, and your brain can hurt just doing comparison shopping.


A friend of mine who really doesn't like phones (we'll call him "Craig") grudgingly conceded he needed to update his Motorola Android flip phone that was stuck somewhere in the distant past. So he went to an AT&T store, where he was bombarded with so many options he just said "I don't have the time" and left. I guess the happy ending is that his battery had become a fire hazard, so he went back and eventually got something—but he still wonders if he made the right choice. 


Music gear can feel the same way. Today there are so many great choices that the spending is diluted, and that means the "pie" is being cut into ever-smaller slices—the same way that cable started pulling people away from the networks. This is great for musicians because the extreme level of competition can mean better prices. But that extreme competition also means that some companies cut corners to meet price points. What can you as a musician do to make certain that, when you vote with your dollars, you're voting for gear that will serve you well? Why? Because you are the industry. Without you, there is no music gear industry.


All of us at Harmony Central are musicians, so, yes, it's a bit self-serving that we've really try to provide a variety of perspectives on gear because we buy stuff, too. We provide Expert Reviews through which editors who really know what they're talking about write seriously detailed vetted reviews.  We also introduced the Pro Review format, which brings forum-like interactivity and free-wheeling discussions by which the reviewer, user, and manufacturer are on an equal footing. Our forums let you ask questions to knowledgeable users who have experience with gear. And, finally, we have the crown jewels of reviews - tens of thousands of User Reviews, written by your fellow "in the trenches" musicians. But we also think the process of learning about gear doesn't stop with voting with your dollars, so we run articles on how to incorporate gear into specific applications or genres of music. 


So with a little research, you really can find the gear that's right for you. But this needs to be a two-way street with companies, and we need to support the ones that support us. If you find something that could be improved, don't just complain in forums—send a thoughtful email or letter to the company explaining how they can make a better product. Understand that companies are in a small, competitive industry with razor-thin profit margins. If you find something that really rocks your world, tell your friends and evangelize on behalf of that company—your word of mouth means a lot. Often, the first cutbacks at companies are with marketing and promotion. Advocate for the companies that do you right, and they'll grow so they can continue to do you right. 


Ultimately, never lose sight of the fact that this gear exists so you can make music with it. The more you make music, the more you'll find the gear that helps you in your goals. The more you make music, the more you inspire others to do the same. And when you do that as a musician, you grow the industry (your industry).  And that is a great thing for you, us, your audience, and the companies that serve us. -HC-





Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.


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