If you have already flicked through the magazine before beginning to read this page you may well have noticed that this issue's new products section (pages 6/7) is somewhat devoid of the usual stunning new devices we appear so keen to bring you news of. The reason for this is simple; hot new products are currently thin on the ground - or rather, information about them is. Which is highly unusual at this time of year. Why? Because there is plenty of new equipment about - and all of it will be unveiled in early February at the Frankfurt Music Fair.
So why the change, why no advance news? Well, it is due to the fact that more of the equipment manufacturers are beginning to see commercial sense and realising how they can harness the power of the press for the good of all concerned. Let me explain...
Instead of using Frankfurt as a showcase for all the new products they will be releasing throughout the forthcoming year - and bombarding the music publications with a phenomenal number of Press Releases telling us all about them (which we naturally all publish) - more and more companies are being selective about the product information they divulge and are only releasing news of those products that they are 99% certain they will have on sale in the music shops directly after the Fair finishes, when news of them reaches the buying public. (I believe it is called 'good marketing'.)
This arrangement makes a bucketful of sense, for it helps everyone all round: for a magazine's editorial staff, it reduces the chaos of having to cope with every company wanting you to publish previews/reviews of every single piece of new gear they show, and being disappointed with you when you don't; for the companies, it reduces the 'need' to display so-called new products that are actually little more than non-operational prototypes ('black boxes') and whose specifications are preliminary and therefore more than likely to be altered in the final production models anyway. This has the added benefit of allowing company representatives more time to service the trade customers interested in the real 'working' products that they can stock in their shops now.
Such action makes good commercial sense too - with magazines restricted to publishing news of products that anyone could immediately go out and try (and buy) after reading about them, we no longer have a situation where somebody who may well have gone out today and bought an 'EY-8' synth that they have finally decided they want (and have probably saved up for), is put off buying because they happen to read about the 'new' EY-8+ model which does more and is cheaper, but which turns out not to be available in the shops for another seven months!
The consequences of this little everyday scenario are pretty dire, and certainly unnecessary if you stop and think about it: the shop doesn't sell the original synth; the manufacturer therefore can't sell another synth to the shop because they haven't sold the first one; and the unsuspecting magazine reader doesn't get either synth he wants and is unsure of what to do. But, more importantly, neither does he play or create any music with his synth in the interim seven months, nor earn any money from using it on gigs which he was relying on to pay the monthly HP repayments!
The result? A stagnant market!! Thank heaven things are beginning to change.
Editorial by Ian Gilby
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