NAMM Log #1:Reviews Have Power, and Manufacturers are Listening

(ShackMan | Posted 2010-07-02)

NAMM Log #1:Reviews Have Power, and Manufacturers are Listening

As my first story from NAMM, I'd like to talk about how I was received at the Casio booth. As some of you know I've written a few times about their pianos in the past, and I recently did a review of the PX-830, and while I didn't hate it, it did have a few shortcomings that kept it from being a really solid contender in its price range.

The kind folks at Casio actually came straight up to me at the show and knew who I was right away when they saw my nametag, showed me around the booth and told me about all the new gear that was coming out. They made a point to show me how and where they were making changes in their designs along the lines of some of the problems I had in my review of the PX-830. Some pianos even have a reference chart now, and they're making huge strides to make the layout of their keyboards more intuitive while maintaining the elegant look of having so few buttons that many home-owners of digital pianos like.

Sure, the PX-830 wasn't the biggest success as far as I was concerned, but what really sticks out to me is when a company is continually recognizing faults and immediately takes steps to correct them. Even though I'm still a little guy on a review site that doesn't have a huge name yet, they treated me and my ideas with great respect and thanked me for what I had to say. I'll be seeing some new gear from them soon, and I'm curious as to what new ideas they've come up with. Casio may not have the market cornered or anything, but they still make pretty darn good keyboards for the price range, and everyone I met on their team is absolutely dedicated to customer support.

So, my point is this. When youíre putting together a review, even if itís just you doing a user review, remember that people do read it, and that it WILL influence someoneís decision to buy a piece of gear. Be honest about it, but understand to whom the instrument is being marketed. Realize that people are coming from very different situations than your own to look at it. Donít just bash it and call it a piece of junk; say exactly why you think itís junk, and remember to think about whether or not someone else would have the same problem. Is it your personal preference? Why do you like what you like about your instrument? Always think about the fact that somebody, somewhere, is probably going to read it and try to base their own opinion on what they read. So be fair, be honest, and set your thoughts out in plain fashion. Thereís no need to type in all caps or say that you would buy the same product again if it were stolen. That tells us nothing. Be specific. A practice that I try to use is to see it from all three sides: yourself, potential buyer, and manufacturer looking to better his products for the consumer base.

Remember above all that reviews DO have power. They have the power to make a manufacturer bend over backward to fix what their customers arenít digging, and thatís a really cool thing in todayís world. We as musicians can make some NOISE in the industry when thereís something going on that we donít like. Thatís power that demands responsibility, because those same reviews have the power to make the reviewer look like an idiot. So do be careful what you write. If the pen is mightier than the sword, then the keyboard and the Internet are continuing to raise the stakes in a very global market.

James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri, and his compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. His contest winning essays and short stories have seen publication in and around the Tri-State area.

Feel free to e-mail James with comments, questions, concerns, or contrasting opinions at james.rushin@musicgearreview.com.

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