SKF NOTE: Modern Drummer Publication’s CEO recently announced a renewal of the enterprise.
Meanwhile, a DrumForum.org member started a thread wondering what kind of articles actual and potential MD readers want to read.
I wonder how many MD readers are interested in the written word. With no data for proof, my educated guess is video is now a more popular learning format than reading.
Second, third, and fourth place most popular learning formats vary among audio, photos, and text. Depending on which format works best with an article.
If we’re talking strictly about past vs. future Modern Drummer articles, it’s important to remember MD started pre-computers. Video and audio weren’t serious options for at least MD’s first decade.
When I left MD in 1983, the one person with a computer was founder Ron Spagnardi. And “computer” is a generous term. Ron’s was an early word processor. That it enabled Ron to cut, copy, and move text without limit was its exciting feature.
As for what kind of articles MD readers want to read? Great question.
Thumb through a 1980s era MD. You find a message from Ron Spagnardi, letters from readers, full-length interviews, short profiles of emerging drummers, method columns, product reviews, ask a pro Q&A, ads, and a teaser page for the upcoming issue. Then there were readers’ polls, Neil Peart drumset giveaways, and other features.
That MD issue format came together pre-internet. Yes, there were a couple of other drummer magazines competing with MD for subscribers and readers.
Today, the competition is everything internet related: social media, bloggers, forums, the works. Everything posted online is arguably online forever. Ever improving search engines make it easier to find information online.
Without going into depth, I think the path for any online drum endeavor is to find a niche in need of filling. Maybe it’s a segment of the drum world on which no one is championing. Or maybe it’s a drumming perspective only you can offer the drum public.
That’s age old advice. But I think it applies now more than ever.
Now, the question about what kind of articles 2023 MD readers would like, takes me back to 1983, a few months before I left MD.
At the time, MD’s editorial staff had become so efficient at putting together each issue we opened a block of free time each month. I approached Ron with the idea he allow a few days of the monthly free time to be used for finding and interviewing local drum legends in different states.
My suggestion backfired. Ron’s wife interpreted it as me saying I didn’t have enough to do. Which was true, but not in the way she meant it. Just the opposite. I was suggesting a way to be more productive, not less.
My point? I still like the idea of finding and featuring local drum legends. Maybe they’re players, teachers, drum shop owners, retired — there are tons of variations.
But the local legends are out there. Their stories deserve telling.