June 23, 2006

Is it just me?

by Chris Randall

Or has Harmony Central gone completely down the tubes in the last couple months? The first couple weeks after their Big Sale to Musician's Friend were fine, but now it seems their editorial policy has changed somewhat. Having a look at the "stories" on the front page today, it seems like a fucking marketing meeting for an industry group of music stores that sell marching band instruments.

When I first heard about the sale to Musician's Friend (a company which I think would be better named "Musician's slightly retarded neighbor") I figured HC would rapidly go downhill. It turns out I was mistaken. It certainly went downhill, but it wasn't rapid. "[O]ver time you'll see the website grow into a more vibrant, fun, and informative online resource," said the press release mid-April. I guess that "over time" means "about two and a half months" in marketing-speak, and "vibrant, fun, and informative" means "shit you don't care about."

It isn't so obvious unless you religiously read HC. The front page has always just been a press-release reprinting service, but at least it was press releases you found interesting. Now it's the sort of press releases that I've always busted Sonic State's balls for, the sort that a company puts out for the 'what's going on in the industry' section of Mix. In short, boring pointless industry-speak that has nothing to do with the working musician.

Congratulations, Musician's Friend. You did a good job.

UPDATE: Hey, HC, if someone from your company was reading this and going "hey, I don't know what the fuck Chris is talking about," I was talking about shit like this. Are you fucking kidding me? Some training mill turns out 14 new patchbay monkeys, and that's news? Come the fuck on.



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Jun.23.2006 @ 3:55 PM
I've found it increasingly difficult to find truly useful information about music products on the internet. Seems the first three pages of Google results are all marketing pitches, with no valuable insight into the products' performance. It's like some sort of Behringer syndrome.

Jun.23.2006 @ 4:44 PM
Its not just Harmony Central its most of the music and synth sites really. There are two main problems really. The first is the Internet trend for stores or companies to buy up community sites and to then use them as advertising vehicles. Good for the guy that built the site up? Yes. Bad for the rest of us? Yes. I want content, not a fucking shill advertisement.

The second is the "user generated content" trend. While blogs hold information from time to time (this being a reasonable example of that) forum heavy sites have destroyed article based sites. So instead of just reading an article about analog summing and mic pres I have to read two comments about summing, look at 12 bumps, 3 YMTDS, and 4,234,567,877,234 Fucking variations of animated smiley faces before I get two measly posts about the mic pre amps.

Content was once king, the king is dead.



Jun.23.2006 @ 5:05 PM
full disclosure: i work for the slightly retarded neightbor. and while i agree there are quite a few valid criticisms of the company, my understanding is that we have very little input with regards to content on HC. i think the deal was basically we funnel HC some money to put our ads all over the place and link to our site for pricing instead of zzounds or whoever it was before and we'll bankroll some upgrades to the site..so i'll agree the shop-talk has gone from geeky to suit-y (or exec-y or tight-ass-y or whatever), but i think that's more ascribed to the same points the two commenters before me made..a general, and admittedly lame, margin-first, gear-second, music-if-we-happen-to-think-about it attitude in the gear industry..
and no i'm not out here on behalf of mf..i've had this site on my rss feed for a while after i learned of it via musicthing..so if you have withering insults for th company, understand that i just work here and make absolutely no policy decisions..
if you want to talk about how awesome lebowski is..i'm yr man..

Jun.23.2006 @ 5:55 PM
isn't musician's friend owned by guitar center? i think they partnered up a few years ago to become thesuper-mega-awesome-walmart of gear.

Jun.23.2006 @ 6:18 PM
"f you want to talk about how awesome lebowski is..i'm yr man.."
- I just want to understand this, sir. Every time a rug is micturated upon in this fair city, I have to compensate the owner?

Jun.23.2006 @ 7:03 PM
Things are only going to get worse. The future of advertisments are ads that you (or at least most people) don't know are ads.

Jun.23.2006 @ 7:45 PM
Musician's Enemy. Or is that Enema? I gave up looking at HC a while back. Pretty much the only time I read that site is when NAMM or Music Messe is on.

Much like most of the American music tech magazines (Keybored, Electronic Idiocy, Mix-for-the-rich, and y-y-y-yo Phunky Phresh Remixxx) the content on HC is driven by whomever pays for the ads. I haven't seen an objective and relevant review on there for years. It's still Tape Op, SoundonSound, and sometimes EQ for me.

Most of my gear geekery needs are served by this blog, matrix synth, and a couple others.

I wish I could find a forum about vintage consoles somewhere that was worth reading. :)


Jun.23.2006 @ 11:52 PM
This is exactly why we just launched pikki.org
(link [pikki.org]">link [pikki.org])

pikki is a product wiki for the gear we use to create with. We spend a lot of time researching even the smallest purchase for our studios and the process of rounding up all the facts and opinions has been less than stellar.

Too many valuable user reviews, insights and opinions get buried in forums and become impossible to find down the road. Too many sites are filled with manufacturer's descriptions and sales pitches.

We wanted a single space to share both facts and opinions about our gear and to make it easy for people to link up to their own reviews when talking in blogs or forums. pikki is a mixture or community driven editorial content on products and user reviews. We wanted the reviews to be more like notepads that you could update as your experiences with a piece of gear changed and that you could fill with anything from a list of bullet points to a handful of photos. And we wanted some tools like tags to share and keep track of gear we were interested in.

So we built pikki. We just launched a couple of days ago. We're still ironing out bugs and filling it in with content. But it sounds like there's a real need for a new site like this.

The timing here is strange. Reading this thread was a bit like reading the 'About' page on pikki.

Drop by and have a look.

link [pikki.org]">link [pikki.org]


Jun.24.2006 @ 12:39 AM
Chris Randall
The post from qjacobq above got me thinking about the situation with HC, and now it kind of makes sense. Before, they had to get advertising dollars rolling in, so they lent preference (maybe even unintentionally) to companies that would perhaps buy an ad or two.

(Note to self: remember to press "unsubscribe" next time I get that ridiculous HC Insider newsletter trying to tempt me to buy incredibly expensive banner ads by telling me how much I'm doing wrong with my advertising.)

At any rate, now that they don't have to work so hard for their bread and butter, every single press release they get is put in the queue? Something like that. There was definitely a change. HC was always good to us, putting up our press releases promptly, but I didn't even bother sending our last one, because I didn't want to be in the same company as Bob's Discount Guitar Tab Books. That's not the way we peddle our wares. We'll sell a few less copies maybe, but at least we can look in the mirror in the morning.

As for pikki, it seems to be a good idea, but I think there's a big hole in your plan. Wikis open to the public, especially review Wikis, are incredibly susceptible to shills. My first thought upon going there was "who could I get to add good reviews to this site?" (Disregarding the "look in the mirror" comment above for a second.) It's a tricky business, but I agree that there's definitely a need for a site like that. Might I suggest a "Pro Audio" section, as well?



Jun.24.2006 @ 8:11 AM
high tech
i couldnt agree more about HC.
HC used to be my main page for finding out new gear previews, but now the site has gone to shit.
on average 20+ advertisements/day about irrelevant garbage.

for shame.

now i only have hope in gearjunkies, but theyre slackers sometimes though...sometimes there wawnt be a new article for almost a week !?!?

checking gearslutz new product alert section is worth a look, but again; not enough posts.


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