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Researching High and Low

Article from Making Music, June 1987

silly stuff

I CAN NOW tell you that a large Swiss company — Alp, Alp, Piste and Stupeed — are planning to open a huge, revolutionary chain of musical instrument shops in this country.

Their completely revolutionary and amazing idea is so absolutely amazing and revolutionary that, er, I can't for the moment recall what it is.

Oh yes. They reckon that there are two things in this world which the musician adores — free T-shirts and, of course, the obvious one of used, Alpine skiing equipment.

When Making Music was called in to carry out the research on this completely etc, etc, our immediate response was a low, subdued snore. But this was merely because of the time difference, and that those chirpy Mountain folk had called us when we were still asleep in bed. Daft sods.

Our next response was whether they considered that perhaps just the tiniest smidgeon of, like, er, musical equipment might not be a minor draw in such an establishment.

"Don't be so boring," they staticed over a satellite link-up. "Everybody does that. We want to be different. The Yak cannot always eat clover where the milkherd drops her pail." And that, of course is true, especially when the Yak is paying.

It was our task to research how the musician approaches his local music store. "With a brick at night time," belched our friendly Crime Officer, P.C. Thug Suspicious-Bastard. "With far too much money to spend," snided Tory Central Office. But we resolved to carry out our own, independent survey. And we discovered a very important fact. The average musician strides into his local music shop with his eyes firmly fixed on whatever guitar is the highest up the wall.

Alp, Alp, Piste and Stupeed were delighted by these results, which confirmed their own belief that musicians secretly wish to climb the nearest slope and need only be provided with the tools for the job.

In fact musicians do this in order to appear interested, and avoid the beetling gaze of the shop owner who would otherwise intimidate them into doing something stupid. Like spending money.

However, we just unearth the facts, mate, we don't stick 'em together.

Perhaps it surprised you to learn that Making Music, your lovable monthly bundle of forest clippings, is also a much valued research organisation. Oh yes, many twanged are the strings to our bow. For example, did you know that we are also an incredibly successful Publicity Company? You haven't heard of us? Yeah, well that's not actually my department, you understand.

"Research, yup, we got some of that all right, face-ache", is our motto. Er, no Making Music Mottos Ltd isn't my department either. S'funny that. But back to the subject in hand.

We've been asked to enquire into countless possibilities of which Swiss musical instrument stores is only the other one. Our first contract was for a potential TV show which would demystify the technicalities of music, and bring it back to the people. "Go out," said producer Harry Naabs, "and make me a programme which will demystify the technicalities of music, and bring it back to the people. Cheaply."

It's out next year: "Bugger all this MIDI for a lark."

Well that's only its working title, of course. Or rather it's our working title for the meeting which is going to decide the working title, but TV is a slow medium... a sort of medium rare, really. One episode deals with what sense a primitive man would make of the manual for a Roland MC500 sequencer. Rather more sense than Roland do, as it turned out. In fact we kept the primitive man on as a consultant.

Still, you know the saying; if you sat 12 Roland executives down at 12 typewriters for a million years, they would eventually produce the entire works of Shakespeare. Then next month they'd produce it again with an on-board chorus at half the price.

There's also the episode which concentrates on how helpful pub landlords are to up and coming bands. Short, that one, but lots of interesting pictures. Or the edition explaining how to get to see an A&R man... I've got the tape of it laying about somewhere, but I haven't had a chance to look at it yet.

Anyhow, Harry Naabs seems very pleased with our work and wants us to appear in this new medical series. "I'd like to see you in 'Hospital'," he told us.

Research is a difficult job as anybody who's stood on a street corner and asked a passer-by the time will know, "Dunno, ain't got a watch," 90 per cent of them say, which is obviously perfect if you're researching for Timex. "About 90 per cent of the people we interviewed admitted that they were in the market for a new timepiece", would run your findings.

Research is all about asking the right questions. For example, do you think good research would encourage you to sell all your musical equipment in order to buy £5,000 worth of second-hand skiing gear?

Have I asked the wrong question?

Thank you: "98 per cent of all Making Music readers agreed that good research is all about asking the right questions." Easy, see. (For the remaining two per cent, it comes with a Banana Bunch loofah which yells "Drooper, take out the trash" in three different languages. You know the number).

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Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Jun 1987





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