Modern Drummer, or DRUM! mags...any educational value?

timmdrum

Silver Member
Well, here's my $.02. I think MD is still the best mix of education, entertainment, and yes, ads, but this is because they're the most popular mag and everyone wants to advertise with them. Smart, classy, good variety of styles covered, products and recordings reviewed, etc.

Drumhead has great ideas on the educational front, and J. Mover has a great interview/writing style that reads more like a conversation than a "piece". My knock on them is that they *really* need a copy editor- typos abound. (Mover- I'll do it cheap, I could use some cash on the side! :D ) Plus, some of their articles are a bit amateurish... For one, some product reviews are written by teenagers, who admittedly belie their age by being decent writers and not being clueless, but I'm picking up more of a pattern in their reviews with a lot of the same statements made about different products, which makes me think their approach is formulaic. Second- and this is my biggest groan-inducing moment when reading Drumhead, and I don't even have much of a stake in the subject matter- the guy who writes their "Digital Domain" column, "Wolf", is A. Complete. Tool. Most of the articles are two pages, but he doesn't get to the subject matter until about a third or halfway in, wasting ink & paper on inane attempts at humor and/or creative writing. It fails, miserably. They need to edit out all his crap or drop him like a bad habit. VERY unprofessional. It's the kind of writing that DRUM! used to have much more frequently...

DRUM! used to really annoy me by gearing all their writing toward snotty, insolent teenage meatheads. Not that all teens are snotty, insolent meatheads, just saying that it seemed the mag was written for the ones who are. They've dialed it back a lot so the mag is fairly tolerable these days. It seems most of the instructional columns are either VERY basic or... not complicated, but just, taken to the point of uselessness, but this has been improving also. The same publishers put out TRAPS for a while, and they did a fantastic job with that one. Too bad the economy made it too difficult to sustain it. Hopefully they'll bring it back in the future.

I can get Rhythm here in the states but it's a $10 import so I don't bother.
 

rolander

Member
I have to say i think modern drummer has gone way downhill over the past 18 months-2 years. i used to read it and re-read it over and over. Now i barely get through it twice. Drummer is what it is, and that's not great. But i expect more from modern drummer. Anyone else notice the standard slipping big time with MD?
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
Modern Drummer has been pretty solid, so even if this or that column comes or goes, the magazine itself has not really lost anything for it. I don't know where one would think they are slipping, unless they are not covering something you're into, but that's an old chestnut with MD. They will ALWAYS have someone out there who thinks they now suck, for any number of reasons. So will all the others.

The reality is that, like radio and television, the content is there to draw attention to the medium, which the medium itself then uses to leverage advertising dollars. There is nothing wrong with that, and at least drum magazines stick to the theme when dealing with advertising. If ads for Chevys and Wellbutrin started showing up, I would have a few questions regarding the publisher's judgment; It's not like Ludwig takes out ads in Newsweek, y'know.

What I find insulting is the notion that a reader is such a Homer Simpson that they can't get through the burning interview with Paul John Jr. without getting derailed by the advert for shiny, new DWs or Sabians. Unlike radio and television, magazine ads are gone as soon as we turn the page or move our eyes elsewhere, so why would anyone care about them? An anti-commerce kick, maybe? I don't think the presence of advertising in Modern Drummer or DRUM! does anything to de-value the content. So, yes, there is educational value in these magazines if you're willing to look for it, and have the patience to wait for the next issue if the last one didn't grab you. It's also good to keep them around. What doesn't seem important right now could turn out to be quite valuable a year or two down the road.

Also, drum mags are special-interest publications, just like Model Railroader, Truckin' or Guns & Ammo. They are targeted at their respective readerships in a way that general interest "doctor's office" magazines are not. General interest magazines have to keep it light and safe in terms of content, because they are much more about the numbers, and thus do not want to risk alienating anyone. The result: more fluff than a chow-chow on a feather bed. Special interest mags don't have to worry about that, so you end up with some real content (though a recent article about Travis Barker was a bit slobbering and sycophantic).

I grew up with drum mags being about the only info you got about drumming, as the internet was not around as we know it, and even then it took some time to catch up. Today I regard drum magazines as part of the larger picture that also includes places like this as well as artist's and manufacturer's own websites to keep abreast of things. Case in point: I didn't hear about Joe Morello's passing until I opened up this site today. Not the sort of news I get anywhere else.

Wow, what a windbag I am. Anyway, I would rather have too much material to draw from than too little, and the drum magazines still have their place in my world.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Well, here's my $.02. I think MD is still the best mix of education, entertainment, and yes, ads, but this is because they're the most popular mag and everyone wants to advertise with them. Smart, classy, good variety of styles covered, products and recordings reviewed, etc.

Drumhead has great ideas on the educational front, and J. Mover has a great interview/writing style that reads more like a conversation than a "piece". My knock on them is that they *really* need a copy editor- typos abound. (Mover- I'll do it cheap, I could use some cash on the side! :D ) Plus, some of their articles are a bit amateurish... For one, some product reviews are written by teenagers, who admittedly belie their age by being decent writers and not being clueless, but I'm picking up more of a pattern in their reviews with a lot of the same statements made about different products, which makes me think their approach is formulaic. Second- and this is my biggest groan-inducing moment when reading Drumhead, and I don't even have much of a stake in the subject matter- the guy who writes their "Digital Domain" column, "Wolf", is A. Complete. Tool. Most of the articles are two pages, but he doesn't get to the subject matter until about a third or halfway in, wasting ink & paper on inane attempts at humor and/or creative writing. It fails, miserably. They need to edit out all his crap or drop him like a bad habit. VERY unprofessional. It's the kind of writing that DRUM! used to have much more frequently...

DRUM! used to really annoy me by gearing all their writing toward snotty, insolent teenage meatheads. Not that all teens are snotty, insolent meatheads, just saying that it seemed the mag was written for the ones who are. They've dialed it back a lot so the mag is fairly tolerable these days. It seems most of the instructional columns are either VERY basic or... not complicated, but just, taken to the point of uselessness, but this has been improving also. The same publishers put out TRAPS for a while, and they did a fantastic job with that one. Too bad the economy made it too difficult to sustain it. Hopefully they'll bring it back in the future.

I can get Rhythm here in the states but it's a $10 import so I don't bother.
Your post made me laugh.

While I still like all the mags, I agree with your criticisms.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I have to say i think modern drummer has gone way downhill over the past 18 months-2 years. i used to read it and re-read it over and over. Now i barely get through it twice. Drummer is what it is, and that's not great. But i expect more from modern drummer. Anyone else notice the standard slipping big time with MD?
I've been reading MD since the 80's, and it's had it's up points and down points. But it always seems to come back.

But I certainly perceive it differently now than I used to.

When I was young, MD was the only real source for drum info. So I would read every single article in it, at least twice. It didn't matter if it was a rock guy, a jazz guy, an article on latin, whatever, I would digest every word.

Now, I'm much older, a bit set in my ways, and if an article doesn't interest me with in the first few paragraphs, I skip it. I can come here, read the net, or watch youtube for drumming content.

Also, because the net allows people to discover new music easily, and there is more music out there than any one person can listen to, I'm finding MD is often featuring people I've never heard of, while not even mentioning the people I am listening to. This is a rather big contract to the 80's when they featured people who were on MTV, and at minimum, you were at least familiar with the name of whom ever was featured.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Sure there's educational stuff there. A person who truly wants to learn will pick up things everywhere.

As far as the magazines themselves go, I think paper is on it's way out. As a medium, it's a dead end. In 25 years I predict we won't even have mailboxes anymore. It's all just information and that is most inexpensively conveyed electronically over the internet. I get just as much if not more info here on Drummerworld than any of the mags.
And it's way more personal too. For free. With no ads.
 

KarlCrafton

Platinum Member
To the OP, lessons are the #1 way to go.

Yeah, I MD has gone downhill in the last few years. I've subscribed since it went monthly, and bought it most months before that since '81.
Still have all of them too.

These days, the interviewing styles aren't as good, or engaging anymore.
They don't use Robyn Flans anymore either, and that bugs me, because she was great, and so were her pics.
From a design perspective, it's always been a little crummy, but the pics used to be a lot better. Now, I find the pics to be to real "digital camera-y" and no real thought to anything but snappin' the pic.
Not EVERY pic is that way, but most are.

I subscribe to DRUM! now. Just started again. I had a subscription when it was just on newspaper in the early 90's.
I like DRUM! because the style is more "hangin' out with the guy's at the shop". Not that MD is "stuffy" but it is more serious.
I like Drummer. It's $10 here, and I can't find it all the time. I do have several issues.

TRAPS was GREAT.

Drumhead is really great, and Mover is a cool, down to earth, straight shootin' dude.

Classic Drummer is cool. I have a lot of those.

I'll stop now....

Good!! --there I said it for you!!
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
Your post made me laugh.

While I still like all the mags, I agree with your criticisms.
Well, thank you! Maybe I should become a music journalist...! I'm sure the lack of any training whatsoever (a few college English classes don't count) won't hurt me at all...
 
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