Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Little-Known Music Magazine Attempts Big-Time Ad-Sales Scheme

Earlier today, a tipster forwarded us an e-mail from Matthew Johnson, the marketing director of the record-label consortium The Birdman Group; it's an exchange Johnson allegedly had with Joe Joyce of the Massachussets music rag Amplifier. The gist: Joyce, who's under the impression that his magazine is a "highly influential force within the indie rock genre," asks Johnson if he's planning on advertising Amplifier. Johnson says no, explaining that Birdman's ad budget is nonexistent; Joyce replies with an off-the-cuff "well, it was nice writing about your artists." Here's how Johnson introduced the exchange:

I am writing this letter to share an email exchange I had with one, Joe Joyce from Amplifer Magazine. Below is the correspondence I had with him this morning of Tuesday, the 16th of January, 2007. I have choosen to NOT send Amplifier and their associated businesses any new releases, due to this email exchange. I am not saying they have done anything WRONG or ILLEGAL, but I do not choose to work with companies like this. I doubt you do as well. Please, please share this with your anyone you feel needs to hear this.
A little background on the story. Birdman Records has taken a couple of ad's over the course of my tenure here, which is over 3 years. They have reviewed a lot of our records. I have also had a great interaction with all members of the staff in these years. Recently, due to shrinking sales, I basically stopped advertising in ALL publications. I want to share with you my email exchange and let you choose for yourself. I am very saddened and disgusted by what I have been told today.

The e-mail exchange, in its entirety, after the jump.

Joe writes:

Hello Matthew,

Never heard back fro you on my last email....Anyway, A new year and a new philosophy for AMPLIFIER MAGAZINE. We're now in our 10th year of print publication, not to mention having added a fantastic new website to our enterprise just a short while ago. In that time I believe it's well within reason to estimate we've provided coverage to thousands of excellent bands through CD reviews, articles, features, live reviews, and on-line AMP3 Radio play lists.I believe without reservation that AMPLIFIER has become a highly influential force within the indie rock genre. We would like nothing better than to continue being that source of expertise and influence to our readers in both the print forum and through the internet.

Quick Birdman the type of label that sees AMPLIFIER as an advertising resource for its artists. There's a thousand and one minor reasons to make this seem unlike a simple yes or no answer. But really, truth be told, it boils down to one or the other. In the first ten years of publication I've wasted an obscene amount of time that was not really necessary, chasing myself in circles. I don't want to do that anymore. We like what you're putting out ( see Paula Frazer) and plan on providing coverage....but to save us time and effort on the advertising end of things, do you see Birdman making use of any advertising opportunities presented by either AMPLIFIER or

A cut and dried answer will me most greatly appreciated.


Hey Joe. Thanks for the note. What I can tell you is this. In the 3+ years I've been here, my advertising budgets have gone from just about anything, to absolutely nothing. I really want to say that I believe things will turn around, but the honest truth is that we are cutting back more than ever. I have not taken an add in a publication in over 6 months. Revolver does some of that for me at times on their own, but I have no funds to do this. I really wish it were different. But...Please keep me posted on all of your doings though, I like getting those emails.

I truly appreciate your support and coverage for Birdman. You guys are great over there.

See ya,



Bummer.....wish we could continue to support your artists, but I guess we can't. Best of luck.

Joe Joyce, Publisher & Dir. Advertising



Hey Joe. Wow, I'm very surprised by your reply. This saddens me greatly, but I guess it's all part of the business.



Hey Sorry kids have to eat....if you're never going to advertise with us I can't justify the cost of covering your releases

It's not often that you see such a blatant conflation of a publication's ad-sales department and its editorial well, and the brazenness with which Joyce made his demands caused our mouths to drop open. Despite that shock, we're pretty sure that Amplifier is hardly the only publication guilty of this practice; sure, Joyce's utter boneheadedness is probably unparalleled, and his magazine has been given the "Hey, Masshole!" award from one of our former AnonIMous Interview subjects. But there's probably other evidence of these shady practices out there; if you've been entangled in any ad-edit tussles, you know where to find us.

Amplifier []