July 06, 2011

Happily nonprofit

A friend mentioned to me the other day that a few people had mentioned to him that they thought I make “lots of money” from pipes|drums. I was taken aback, since essential tenets of the publication are to be independent and nonprofit.

To be clear, all revenue goes towards four basic areas: upkeep and maintenance of the publication; development of new aspects of the magazine; hardware and software to produce the content (which I guess is part of the first area); and marketing.

I know this is difficult for some folks to believe, but it is in fact possible to do something to a “professional” standard without making it a profession.

I like the fact that filthy lucre isn’t involved in the endeavour. Just as I don’t charge for lessons (some would say that’s only fair!), not pocketing money from pipes|drums keeps me happier. It takes away the pressure and I prefer not having to worry about keeping advertisers and readers happy with nothing else but providing good content, which attracts readers, which makes more value for advertisers, which generates more revenue, which allows more development, which attracts more readers, which . . . you get the drift.

I’ve heard of businesses advertising in piping/drumming related outlets for nothing but political reasons. They feel that, if they advertise, they’ll curry favour to get positive, undeserved coverage. To me, that’s like a band making an annual purchase of chanter reeds from a judge who might make his or her living from making chanter reeds, with no intention of actually playing them, purely in the twisted hope of getting a better result. To me that’s not only a complete waste of money, but ethically weird and deeply disturbing.

Those who advertise with pipes|drums do so, I firmly believe, because they see the value and return-on-investment. In my humble opinion they are smart marketers. Readers pay the ridiculousy inexpensive subscription price because they see the ROI – the complete and growing archive of more than 3,500 features, interviews, reviews and other articles dating back to 1999. Both readers and advertisers may also be encouraged because they contribute to a decent cause. It’s a cooperative.

Anyway, the whole business of pipes|drums is better as a nonprofit and not as a business. It keeps everyone happier. Especially me.


  1. I figure if you had gotten rich doing this I probably would have heard. If you are doing it because you love the whole damn thing as I do then the money really isn’t even part of the equation. Cheers.

  2. If there was a ton of money in piping and drumming, EVERYBODY would be doing it. I’ll stick with the coolness factor. It’s neat to be elite.

    Thanks for continuing to put out an interesting, informative, and entertaining mag, Andrew.

  3. This is best money I spend for magazine content, except for maybe my Hustler subscription. You do a great job Andrew, it’s like being there!

  4. Do this: print a replica of a USD 100 bill, set it afire and light a five-bob cigar with it. Then you capture the moment with a digital pic and post it to your facebook profile – that would teach those covetous sods a good lesson. You could even photoshop your face instead of Franklin’s… now there’s a thought!

  5. i like its ethics, honesty, simplicity, truth, fairness, and the way it sticks to the facts whether they are popular or not. Leaving money out of it seems to ensure these qualities remain at its heart.

  6. I just returned home from practice with our fledgling pipe band, read this article, and have to comment. Here in Citrus County, Florida, where the average household income is below poverty level, money is always an issue. None of our members, ranging from age fourteen on up, has ever expected a dime for their hard work and devotion to piping/drumming. Some things simply do not have a monetary value. Piping and drumming is one of those things. Actually, music has been a way to escape the financial worries of day to day living and bring joy to ourselves and others. Kudos to all those who have set aside the almighty dollar to promote what we love. Be that as it may, does anyone know of any paying gigs in our area? Just thought I’d throw it out there.



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