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Is Keyboard Mag in trouble?


NoahZark

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I know the Goldfrapp cover caused controversy but hopefully it was just because of the "racy" nature of the cover, not the fact that they were featured. Keyboard magazine should ALWAYS cover the latest artists who keyboard oriented and should always keep an ear to the ground as to what is happening NOW as opposed to 20 years ago.

 

Now, bear in mind, this is coming from a guy who was thrilled with the Chester Thompson feature and transcription from a couple months back. I just think that there can be a balance between the old masters and the up and comers. A band like Keane or an artist like John Legend or a group like Soulive SHOULD be featured as a cover story. Goldfrapp is doing some amazing stuff and need to be exposed (no pun intended) to a wider audience.

 

One thing I would LOVE to see (and KB might not be the right place for it) is a magazine that does in-depth how-to's like some of the English magazines do. Computer Music is an incredible resource for their step-by-steps on how to get certain sounds.

 

Anyway, keep up the good work.

My band Thousand Houses: www.thousandhouses.com
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Originally posted by synthetic:

Bring back Rock Keyboards. I miss the Dave Stewart column with its cool chords and arranging tips. Maybe you can get someone like Jordan Rudess to write it? There are a bunch of columns like that in Guitar Player and Guitar World. Keyboard has been all about jazz and electronica for the last few years IMO.

Man, I would LOVE to see a column by Rudess! I also used to love the Dave Stewart column (whatever happened to him, anyway?) If anyone has put a live rig to a torture test it's Jordan, and I think we could all benefit from that. Would especially love to hear some arranging tips from him.

 

I also had allowed my sub to lapse, but getting a peek at who they've been interviewing made me run out and sign up again. The mag may be thin but I'm impressed with what they're doing with it. I hope the new ownership recognizes what they have here.

 

Jon

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There was a thread floating around about this a year or two ago when it first started shrinking. But in reality it is still bigger than it was in the first few years of production. Not as many pictures back then but the print was bigger.

 

For the first ten years I read Keyboard from cover to cover. Then in the late 80's and through the 90's I found myself skimming a lot. At some point it almost became "Keyboard, Beatbox and Computer Magazine." For me that was the low point as the direction was confusing and there seemed to be no magazines left that focused on keyboardists.

 

Luckily that has changed. In the last few months I have noticed a series of articles geared towards performing keyboardists. Even if it is just few pages on how to choose and amp, this is stuff that a new keyboardist can read and use. I't a KEYBOARD magazine again. :thu:

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.

My Sweetwater Gear Exchange Page

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Originally posted by Calumet:

I just think that there can be a balance between the old masters and the up and comers. A band like Keane or an artist like John Legend or a group like Soulive SHOULD be featured as a cover story. Goldfrapp is doing some amazing stuff and need to be exposed (no pun intended) to a wider audience.

I agree with this 100%. I don't listen to much radio, and would never had known who some of these bands/players are if it hadn't been for these articles. Some of them I like, and some of them I don't. But realistically, if hypothetically KB only focused "the old masters" people would complain there was too much of that "showboaty" Emerson or that "boring" Fagen or whatever. It's just a matter of taste.

 

Besides, without all the articles on the new players, we wouldn't have that great Stacy Dupree quote about "little boxes or whatever"! ;):D

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Originally posted by Joe Muscara:

....if hypothetically KB only focused "the old masters" people would complain there was too much of that "showboaty" Emerson or that "boring" Fagen or whatever.

I can just see the letters...."Please quit putting great players in your magazine and write about more posers". ;)

A Jazz/Chord Melody Master-my former instructor www.robertconti.com

 

(FKA GuitarPlayerSoCal)

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Joe,

 

I agree that KM shouldn't stop introducing us to new young players, but the players that they choose should be _worthy_ of the exposure due to their _outstandling musicianship_; not highlighted just because of their popularity. That's where I think that the magazine went astray before. If the players aren't outstanding, then I'm not interested.

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Originally posted by cnegrad:

Joe,

 

I agree that KM shouldn't stop introducing us to new young players, but the players that they choose should be _worthy_ of the exposure due to their _outstandling musicianship_; not highlighted just because of their popularity. That's where I think that the magazine went astray before. If the players aren't outstanding, then I'm not interested.

E-X-A-C-T-L-Y :thu:

 

New is great if they can play.

A Jazz/Chord Melody Master-my former instructor www.robertconti.com

 

(FKA GuitarPlayerSoCal)

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Sorry if my quoted selection of players created a new v.s. old thing. I just meant that Keith Jarrett and Peter Cincotti are not in the same class. Substitute The Bad Plus for Jarrett if you like. And Soulive for Billy Preston. All great players.

 

As for Goldfrapp, they're one of the name groups doing synth heavy stuff and I thought it was a good article. As for the cover, well it was rather Marlena Dietrich really. Nice. Has anyone else been doing do a double-take when they check into the Harmony Central Keyboard forum because the stickied thread at the top is titled "Shakira porn links". :o

Gig keys: Hammond SKpro, Korg Vox Continental, Crumar Mojo 61, Crumar Mojo Pedals

 

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Originally posted by soundscape:

Originally posted by Jon Bryson:

Man, I would LOVE to see a column by Rudess! I also used to love the Dave Stewart column (whatever happened to him, anyway?)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platinum_Weird
Methinks that's the "other" Dave Stewart, no?

 

P.S. I get what y'all are saying about top new players, but still some will say that new player so-and-so is the best new thing, totally talented and all that, while others will complain that s-a-s is crap, a poser, etc. Same point I was making, really. See the recent Jordan Rudess thread for more on this. ;)

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Originally posted by Joe Muscara:

Originally posted by soundscape:

Originally posted by Jon Bryson:

Man, I would LOVE to see a column by Rudess! I also used to love the Dave Stewart column (whatever happened to him, anyway?)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platinum_Weird
Methinks that's the "other" Dave Stewart, no?
Erm... I didn't know there was more than one Dave Stewart!

 

Originally posted by Joe Muscara:

P.S. I get what y'all are saying about top new players, but still some will say that new player so-and-so is the best new thing, totally talented and all that, while others will complain that s-a-s is crap, a poser, etc. Same point I was making, really. See the recent Jordan Rudess thread for more on this. ;)

Well, it's fairly obvious to me from listening to Goldfrapp's material that it's not classic stuff, and I'm someone who at least likes electronic music.
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The Dave Stewart who wrote for Keyboard was not the Eurythmics Dave Stewart. See this Wikipedia entry .

 

The Keyboard columnist is the second one in the list. The Eurythmics DS is the first one.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Originally posted by Tusker:

My favorite article was a "Simple Gifts" reharmonization/re-arrangement exercise that you did with several keyboardists. I learned a lot from that one.

Wasn't that one like 30 years ago?

 

I remember that fondly too. Wish I could find my copy. I remember our (excellent, but utterly incapable of improv) pianist playing some of those at church one Sunday. Luscious...

 

Daf

I played in an 8 piece horn band. We would often get bored. So...three words:

"Tower of Polka." - Calumet

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Hey BluMunk, I grew up in Burlington, VT! I'm gonna be back there for the holidays, too, probably hanging out quite a bit at the Daily Planet and 1/2 Lounge. I'll bring ya a couple of back issues - consider it a homeboy thing!

 

As for the topic of this thread, I pester our CEO about our page count - we call it "Thud Factor" in the magazine biz, meaning the extent to which the book goes "thud" when you drop it on the coffee table - every chance I get. It's my belief that management gets it about this, really. As Ernie said, things should start looking thuddier when we're done living down a budget that had a lot more to do with selling a business than with running one.

 

So no, we're not in trouble. Here's why I think it's quite the opposite, in fact: Our new private-equity owners are more oriented towards medium- to long-term growth than they are towards quarterly profits "right now," though those remain a concern, as in any business. We're looking forward to beefing up our web offerings, and finding new ways to drive subscriptions and reach out to new readers. And the good news is, we now have a management team for whom that's the primary focus. Our old owners - CMP/United Business Media - were very focused on the B2B market, and they should be, because they're good at it. I'm talking stuff like "Dr. Dobb's Journal" and "EE Times." That's a very different audience than for the Musicplayer books, you spend money in different ways to reach it, you woo your advertisers differently, and so on. Now that we don't have to meet the expectations of managers who mainly think in terms of that model, we're a lot freer to do OUR thing. That's ultimately very good, but transitional periods can be rough, or perhaps I should say thin.

 

Thanks for sticking with us through it. We remain butt-bustingly committed to making the best music and technology magazine we can every month, because everyone here started out as a Keyboard reader. :thu:

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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Stephen:

 

Thanks for weighing in. I'm all too familiar with the concept of "priming" a business for sale, and I sympathize with those like yourself, Ernie, and the others at the magazine that had to live through that process! Your new owners sound like a great improvement over the old, and I look forward to many, many more years of great issues from you guys.

 

Finally, it's worth saying that, given the relative tumult in which you have found yourselves over the past several months, you and the gang deserve even more applause for cranking out extremely informative, interesting, balanced, and well-written issues over that time.

 

Keep up the good work and rest assured that your butt-busting commitment is well appreciated by your loyal readers!

 

Noah

 

P.S. Just to keep this lovefest from getting totally out of control, I should also say that it wouldn't kill you guys to run a spell-check before hitting the "print" button on your issues every now and again. ;)

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I also want to chime in on the excellent quality turn of the magazine! I have sort-of returned to keyboards in the last couple of years, and was not too impressed with the first issues of KB I received. Now I'm a loyalist. I noticed the reduction in "thud" factor also, but I guess I simply attributed it to an increase in information density, rather than some bad omen. I do enjoy the ads, but would rather have thin content rather than fat fluff.

 

Concerning Goldfrapp, I didn't mind the pics (after all, I am male!) or the article, and I agree that new artists should be featured, even when they aren't destined to become the next Jimmy Smith. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for us readers, that issue represents the end of the "new artist of the month club" era of the magazine.

 

Keep up the good work!

 

-Bob

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

I really like the issues where there are several pages of new products - a photo and a blurb.

Checking out these kinds of articles is an important part of my research for new things to add to my setup.
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No one magazine can be all things to all people. I still feel that NONE of the US publications hold a candle to the UK's "Sound-On-Sound", which also covers more breadth than any of its American cousins, but that doesn't mean none of them are good or worth subscribing to. SOS makes mistakes sometimes as well. The best example is their recent review of Way Out Ware's TimewARP 2600.

 

What impresses me about Keyboard recently is its FOCUS, which I think it had lost in recent years. Not every issue is for me, but every issue now impresses as having clear goals and delivering on them. The visual layout is also greatly improved, and the magazine is easier to read in full.

 

I also notice that EQ has been improving dramatically, so now I feel guilty for ragging on it inadvertantly in front of one of its editors at the AES Show :o

Eugenio Upright, 60th Anniversary P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico SS Bari, EXL1,

Select Strat, 70th Anniversary Esquire, LP 57, Eastman T486, T64, Ibanez PM2, Hammond XK4, Moog Voyager

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I think one has to accept that the internet is where its at with regard to breadth. Quality might be another thing though... ;)

 

That being said, its a myth that because something is bound or appears in print that its somehow superior... I've had a couple of articles plagiarised and mangled with other authors articles until they make no sense over the years and they've even been published by ACTA press. The internet and wikipedia are often held as being poor sources of real info but I don't think theres any difference except for the fact the internet is immediate.

 

Also with regard to the older artists... I feel they often say the same things they said 30 years ago.. last thing I read in Keyboard was Brad Mehldau and the Trailer Park Ghost transcription.. though that was sometime ago..

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I am also generally happy with the magazine's quality of late, but I disagree with the idea that only artists who are virtuoso players should be covered. If keyboardists are doing something creative or making good music, even pop music, they are suitable for coverage by the magazine.

 

I hope when the budget constraints are reduced, we also see the return of three of my favorite pages of the magazine: Vintage Sounds, Vintage Synths, and 30 Years Ago Today. No offense to the musicians covered, but Weekend Warriors is more suitable for an online feature. Expanded coverage of the unsigned artist column would be more interesting.

 

Keep up the good work.

Privia, X-Station, Micron, Handsonic, Logic, Live

Just a hobby, man.

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Originally posted by velocipede:

I am also generally happy with the magazine's quality of late, but I disagree with the idea that only artists who are virtuoso players should be covered. If keyboardists are doing something creative or making good music, even pop music, they are suitable for coverage by the magazine.

I agree, but they have to be creating good music. "Virtuosity" in the composition/arrangement/part writing is the important thing.

 

The better pop music (which isn't really around today*, so maybe I'll include hip-hop/rap here) is often driven by "producers," who may or may not be considered "cool" by the buyers of Keyboard magazine.

 

(*May not be the case in Japan--everytime I check the iTunes Japan top 100, mihimaru GT are in it, and other J-Pop acts appear to be going strong.)

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