Taking a chance on Fish
Scott K. Fish, Special to the Piscataquis Observer • November 30, 2018
Looking back almost 40 years I can’t imagine not crossing paths with Ron Spagnardi, founder and publisher of Modern Drummer magazine. We were both drummers, entrepreneurs. Ron in New Jersey, me in New York. At about age 34, Spagnardi saw the success of a 10-year-old magazine devoted to guitarists, Guitar Player, and wondered, why not publish a magazine devoted to drummers?
Next, Ron bought two small subscription ads. One in Down Beat magazine, and one ad in the New York Musician Union Local 802 newspaper. Spagnardi’s ad copy was pretty basic, something like: Interested in subscribing to a new quarterly magazine exclusively for drummers? Send $10 to: Modern Drummer, 47 Harrison St., Nutley, NJ. (I don’t remember the exact amount for a subscription.)
These ads were Ron testing the waters. He told me he had a separate bank account for subscriber’s money. If at least 2,000 people subscribed, Ron said, he could afford to publish the magazine. He didn’t know what he was doing was illegal. Without a Modern Drummer product, soliciting paid subscriptions was a no-no.
Spagnardi’s said his plan was, “If I don’t get at least 2,000 subscribers, I’ll send back their money.”