October 15, 2013

Nine p|d policies

Here are nine pipes|drums policies that you might not know about. We’d say they’re unwritten rules, but, since they’re written here, they’re not.

1. We don’t do competition critiques. pipes|drums has always been the first source for reports on competition results, but you will never find those wretched, self-indulgent, player-by-player, band-by-band critical rundowns that started with Seumas MacNeill’s 1940s Piping Times. They call them contest rundowns for a reason: they tend to run down everyone except the winner. It’s a tabloid technique: bash the best for being better than the writer. It’s sham schadenfruede. The result is the result. What we or anyone else personally thought of individual performances does not matter.

2. Advertisers don’t get preferential treatment. Businesses advertise with pipes|drums because it’s excellent marketing value. We reach more readers in a day than most magazines reach in a month and at a fraction of the cost for savvy marketers. If an organization receives editorial attention it’s because they are canny communicators doing interesting things.

3. Reviewers are unbiased experts. All product or event reviews are done by those who are as expert and unconnected as we can find. Those with a business interest in the product are not eligible, and we look for respected and current pipers or drummers who have no competitive connection.

4. We recruit the reviewers. pipes|drums always asks the experts, and any business who volunteers someone to do a critique of a concert or a product is gently told that it doesn’t work that way. Readers trust pipes|drums to tell it like it is with honesty and integrity.

5. We’re not selling anything besides editorial value. We’re not connected with a shop, or a school, or an association. We strive for professionalism, but pipes|drums is not our job. We don’t pocket any money from advertising and subscriptions. We plow back all of it into the publication and we give the rest to worthwhile, nonprofit piping and drumming initiatives. If the content is good, then the readers will read it. If the readers consider it valuable, a good number of them will subscribe. If the readership numbers continue to grow, organizations will advertise. It’s a simple and effective formula that works well.

6. Interviewees have the final edit. For every one of the more than 80 lengthy pipes|drums Interviews, the subject has been allowed to make final amendments before publication. We have always approached interviews as the story that the interviewee wants to tell. Amazingly, only a handful of times has an interview been changed substantially. Donald Shaw-Ramsay and John Kerr were the most severe, to the point where we suspected some sort of cognitive problem might have entered into the edits. The rest make very minor edits.

7. We rarely delete or edit comments. The times each year when we can’t accept a comment from a reader can be counted on one hand. We rarely have to edit them for being unfair. Our readers make intelligent comments, and monitoring them is very easy.

8. We compensate contributors. When an expert takes time to write for pipes|drums when we ask them to, we pay for their service. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s also not small – more than a judge would typically be paid for a full day. Many don’t accept it, and we’re happy either way.

9. We do it because you seem to enjoy it. We’ve been publishing pipes|drums for more than 25 years only because it’s fun to create something that many people like. Every week we receive thanks from strangers who are friends by way of association to the magazine. Those who don’t like it tend to be those who are paranoid we’re out to get them. We’re not; they are. Their loss. We hope they come around and decide to contribute just a little to piping and drumming instead of purely taking.

We’ve been at this longer than anyone else around today, and – at more than 5,000 all told – we’re pretty sure we’ve published more print and online magazine articles than any publication in piping and drumming history.

By sticking to the policies above we’ve been able to stay consistent and true to our readers. We hope that you continue to subscribe to and enjoy pipes|drums.


  1. You do this so well, I look forward to reading your articles and current news every day. Its such a great way of staying in touch with the Pipers, Drummers and pipe band world. Keep up the great work. You are to be commended on your dedication.

  2. This site (and the magazine before it) has been such a source of important information for so long that it is easy to take it for granted. I check in here about four times a day. I can’t think of any other online piping and drumming resource I would miss more if it wasn’t here. I don’t say it enough: well done.

  3. A 24/7 open door into the piping/drumming world for a pittance, who could argue with that? Having been along for this great ride from the start I can say that the more the site grows and the more we get to watch great talent mixed with interesting insights here the more we enjoy it. Keep up the great work.

  4. I would echo the sentiments of the previous commenters and add that from content to comments P|D is delightfully free of the toxic negativity that pollutes so much discourse on the internet. A visit to the site is always an informative and positive experience.

  5. Good sentiments all! Not only does P|D inform, entertain and instruct its readers of today, it also is laying down history for those of tomorrow. Great work P|D! Thank you.

  6. These policies have stood up well over the years. A steady even-handedness that leads to a balanced approach and a reporting style that is greatly appreciated. The sum of a performances’ accomplishments provides a better view of events them a litany of shortcomings, real or perceived. And…..this has not prevented P|D from commenting on issues that need to be addressed and improved. Keep up the good work. Doc



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