Is Stereophile seeking a new reader demographic?

Does anyone else find this as odd, or amusing, as I do? I just received a subscription solicitation for Stereophile magazine offering me a "free MP3 auto adapter" if I subscribe for a year. The promotion includes a picture of a cheap 12-volt adapter intended to provide power to an MP3 player.

Two thoughts came immediately to my mind -- first, if I can afford any of the equipment being promoted (and "promoted" is, in my view, a polite description) in Stereophile, why would a $10.00 adapter be an incentive to subscribe? And second, Stereophile manages, in each and every issue, to say something nasty about compressed audio files. Why would they be pushing an MP3 adapter as a subscription premium?

Methinks the marketing and editorial departments ought to be talking to each other a bit more.
It's not just Stereophile readers dumbing down. Attention spans are shorter than ever. Stereophile reminds me of what happened to Bicycling Magazine when ads and pretty pictures elbowed out original content. Stereophile is still ahead of Tone Audio in credibility at least. Where would they be if John 'measurements' Atkinson flew the nest? I dare say show pictures of fun bunch brandishing tall Vegas drinks and girls in Canada with blur hair may sell audio rags, but why? In fairness publishing is a cut throat business and why any day now I expect reader supported publications like HIFI Critic to vanish like the dodo bird.
correction previous post: blue, not blur hair. duh.
Perhaps it is just stereophiles recognition of the currently widest used audio device. I hope this kind of promotion does attract a younger demographic.
If Stereo became a largely used audio reproduction method again, we would probably benefit from larger scale production. Prices, although usually sticky, may come down as a pass along to the consumer. In addition, innovation and/or simply perfection may result from R and D that larger firms can afford.
Wouldn't it be nice to find a stereo shop on main street again.
Didn't I read somewhere recently -- where could it have been? -- that Stereophile now has a swimsuit issue?
Stereophile has stated many times that they are trying to attract new and younger readers , and review more low cost equipment . That policy dosn't appeal to me but I guess in this economy you have to do whats needed . I think J.A. will keep a handle on it .
Didn't I read somewhere recently -- where could it have been? -- that Stereophile now has a swimsuit issue?

Pasty white fat balding guys in Speedos? Where do I sign up for a subscription?
I wish Stereophile would do more to attract a new demographic. The last time I checked they had about 80,000 subscribers. That is not enough audiophiles to support healthy audiophile hardware and software industries.

I find it sad that there is so much great audio gear made by people who put their hearts and souls into producing it and so few people who are even aware that it exists.

I don't want to start an argument with people who prefer vinyl, I hope that you always have plenty of analog gear and LPs to choose from, but the future of audiophile audio is not vinyl.

Stereophile should be devoting a lot more coverage to server systems and high res downloads. These topics are hardly mentioned in Stereophile and TAS.

You should know exactly what you need to set up any one of a number of server systems and exactly how to do it from reading Stereophile or TAS. Not the case though.

They should also be working with the major record labels to get them to make high res downloads available at reasonable cost. I don't think anyone at Stereophile even knows anyone from the major lablels or what their plans for a high res format are.

So the result is that audio manufacturers and sellers continue to struggle to survive and we keep waiting for a simple server solution and those high res downloads of music we actually listen to that have been right around the corner for years but never get here.

If the audiophile press doesn't wake up the high end has a tough future ahead.
what else could they give away that cost them 50 cents?
Regarding the mp3 thing, they have a company that does their subscription marketing and that company imo sort of "does its own thing."
Since they are advertising Viagra/Levitra/Cialis in the back these days, perhaps they could give away one of those pump things with a subscription.
Offers to give away Viagra/Levitra/Cialis would be insulting but a pack of dozen of condoms would not.
Anyway, I stopped subscribing to Stereophile and TAS years ago, mostly because I could never figure out what they really thought and felt about things they tested. I can guess better by just looking at particular piece.
Who cares? Its free, use it, give it away, or pitch it in the trash. We even complain when something is free now?
I got the renew with this offer and actually thought it was kinda cool, sure it may go into a junk drawer but ya never know it may be of use or help a friend out.
They're wondering if these devices(Ipod/Mp3) are a cause for the rise in hearing loss in teens. Talk about helping put yourself out of business.
Let me add, I still do read their magazine.
Tomcy ...You said that Stereophile hardly mentioned server systems , witch Stereophile are you reading ? The Stereophile I read has many reviews and articles for servers , streamers , U.S.B. dac's ,ect , too many as far as Im concerned .
Of late, there has most definitely been a concerted effort to increase subscription rates. I wonder what the impetus is behind this. Is it the there someone new at the magazine who is redoubling their work in seeing business, is the parent company pumping some money into marketing, are things good or bad there...
Stop and think...the audiophile market is not growing at the rate retailers/manufacturer's want or need. So what better way to introduce newbies to audiophile-land than this type of offer. Hopefully as the person reads and hopefully follows what Stereophile preaches about better sound quality he/she will see the light. How many of us started out with those crappy 45 singles and 8 tracks? Could anything be worse than those?

I don't believe Stereophile is making this offer hoping to snag audiophiles. Personally I think it is a great idea!
The responses to my original post have been interesting -- especially those suggesting that Stereophile really is looking for a new demographic, and is seeking to reach out to younger subscribers. There are a couple of reasons, though, why I don't think that is the case --

1. I was sent the offer, and I don't fit the demographic at all. I fit the demographic for Stereophile's current subscribers -- if that was supposed to be a targeted offer, they definitely missed the target.

2. The subscription price was $74.00 and some change. I don't think that subscription price is going to appeal to many folks who find a cheap 12-volt adapter for MP3s an incentive.

My personal guess is that Foster_9 has got the right answer -- Stereophile's subscription marketer "does its own thing" and doesn't have a good feel for the magazine's target market. But I grant that the other answers offered here are all plausible. I do agree with those that say Stereophile probably needs to reach a broader market to survive, long term, but IMHO, I don't think that can happen unless they both (1) tone down the condescension towards those who listen to music over media like iTunes and can only afford quality gear if it is also high value, and (2) do more to establish some objectivity and distance from the high-end manufacturers. Just one person's opinion, though -- no claim to Truth with a capital "T".
Stereophile should be concerned about keeping their current demographic.
How COULD the subscription price offered be $74.00??? The normal subscription price via the web or the inserted cards is like $13. Something is wrong here. Please clarify. Thanks.
They should also back off politcal rants IMO, far too many times they take jabs about things that have nothing to do with music and that surely does cause some to take pause if not cancel membership alltogether.
Normally I wouldn’t step into a conversation like this in order to avoid an argument, but since I perhaps have a bit of a different perspective on the issue because I am involved in the audio industry, I thought I might share a couple of thoughts and some facts.

First, Rdavwhitaker, the renewal notice that I received that included the power adapter offer said that the price was $71.91 OFF the newsstand price. The subscription price for one year was $11.97. Could you have read the notice wrong?

To answer Cyclonicman’s assertion: the traditional demographic that the print audio magazines has served, which includes me, is dying off at an increasingly rapid rate each year. Much of our demographic will be dead and gone over the next decade. If Source Interlink Media can come up with a way to keep their current demographic, then I’m all for it. They could probably make a lot more money keeping us alive than they can selling magazines.

In other words, Stereophile and the rest of the audio publications need to find new readers in order to survive. The next generation of high-end hobbyists will be different than we are, just as we were different than the “founding generation” that preceded us.

To bring a little clarity to who the high-end audio buyer is, I can say that in my business an ever-increasing majority of buyers are in the 25 to 35 age group. And these people are buying good, if not the very best, record players, phono cartridges, and other products. Their enthusiasm and energy are refreshing. I don’t see how that’s much different than I remember things being forty years ago, in terms of price range and what percentage of the market that they constitute. They are more active in the high-end audio equipment marketplace than, for instance, the over 60 segment, based on what we are seeing in our business.

Based on what they tell me, a lot of these people also carry around iPhones and that sort of thing with music on them. The Stereophile gift item may be something that they would appreciate. And at least some of them are reaching a point in life where better audio gear is of interest and they also have an interest in taking the time to read magazines.

Stereophile probably missed the mark by sending the gift offer to me as well, but I don’t think they know my age or what my interests are. I expect that they sent that particular renewal notice to a large group of subscribers, some of whom would appreciate the gift. At any rate, I’m not sure that we should expect our personal tastes should always be perfectly met by a magazine at the expense of someone else’s personal tastes. Hopefully, regardless of age and tastes, we can all get something of value from the audio magazines.

If not, then it may be more appropriate for Stereophile to include free sample coupons with the Viagra ads in the magazine. That may be more appropriate for this existing demographic of ours than the power adapter is.

Happy listening.

Jim Pendleton
Osage Audio Products, LLC
isn't the subscription price for Stereophile more like $11/year?
You're right, I was so busy marveling about the inappropriateness of the "gift" that I misread the offer. My bad.
I agree with Chadnliz that Stereophile needs to tone down anything political and stick to equipment and music. But as Jependleton states, I agree it is sometimes a fine line how do you attract new business (readers and buyers) without offending your existing clients. Stephen Mejias' new entry column as well as articles by Art Dudley on refurbishing old equipment hopefully will help to increase its readership. As for the non audio ads they have been listing lately (tool companies and Viagra come to mind) it takes ad revenue to sell the magazine not subscribers. Just think how much money in anticipated revenue they lost when just "Sound by Singer" dropped out not to mention other smaller profile advertisers. If a few off the wall ads help keep Stereophile publishing I say go for it. A wise old businessman once stated "Lead, follow, or get out of the way". I think Stereophile is just trying to market outside the box.

I think we can all agree that the more music lovers and audiophiles there are in the world the better it is for all of us!
The magazine has become a pamphlet. If it gets any thinner, I will be able to use it as a tissue. I also agree that I don't care to hear about the political opinions and convictions of any Stereophile writers. I am still a subscriber for more than 15 years, but for the extra bucks, I think that the Absolute Sound is a better magazine, especially since I can live without the equipment measurements. I am sure that they also have to deal with demographics, but maybe they are doing a better job of satisfying their readers. Just my opinion.
Whow i didnt know that.
I love the political carping in Stereophile. Both on the right, and on the left. Reading about audio and sifting through the measurements can be so dry. Especially after having done it for decades.

Bring on the politics, toothbrush recommendations, travel advice and the occaisional recommendation for a good bottle of wine.
Viridian, you can get all that on Audiogon. :>)
I agree with ( Cyclonicman ) Stereophile should worry more about there currant demographic , I sent them a letter stating that , they did publish it in the January 2011 issue .
lets get back to economics--supply and demand. in most industries, if you want to increase sales, you lower the price.

the question is, at what point is the subscription price economically infeasible, unless more ads are included, or some philanthropist purchases stereophile and decides to be generous and take a loss, selling the publication at a price that even non music lovers or audiophiles are willing to pay.

thus the newer demographic, whatever it is would be induced by price.

another approach is to include subjects that are not currently found in the publication.

thus stereophile could be a poor mans time magazine, by including subjects and topics that die hard subscribers would consider out of bounds. i suppose the publisher would have to change the name from stereophile to ?????

heresy ? perhaps

for those who object to political content, what is your objection, given the inclusion of audio content ? why can't the two coexist ?
Audiophile companies are some of the stupidest companies out there. BY audiophile companies, I mean the mags, manufacturers, etc. Their is no marketing outside of the mags, which is preaching to the choir, and the ads in the mags are the stupidest ads I've ever seen. The They're beyond laughable, they're downright horrible. The Upscale Audio ads and the stupid football players with brand names on their uniforms and helmets immeditaely come to mind.

God forbid if any of these companies hired someone who has any formal training in marketing and/or ad writing.

Then there's the comment that Stereophile reviewing lower cost equipment and trying to appeal to a younger market isn't appealing to him. Seriously? Do you think this hobby is going to grow without a larger market? Do you think reviewing more entry level products like NAD and Cambridge is a bad thing?

Then again, even if they solely reviewed entry level gear, no one would notice. Why? Because they have no idea how to market their magazine. Sitting on the bottom shelf of a magazine rack in Barnes & Noble doesn't get any attention. Offering a stupid mp3 batter or whatever the garbage is doesn't get any attention. What gets attention? Advertising.

Why is good home audio dying? Because no one knows it exists.
If I want to read about political events and topics, I will buy Time or Newsweek, not Stereophile. Sure the two can exist in a magazine, but so can porn or some other subject that is just not what most of us signed up for. IMO, the space that is employed by Stereophile writers giving life to their political slant should be about audio.
Not for anything, maybe I am naive, but has anyone ever seen a TV commercial for Mark Levinson, Audio Research, conrad-johnson, etc,etc. Has anyone ever heard them advertise over the radio. Has anyone ever had a pop up on their computer form any audio manufacturer. The medium is there for the audio industry to reach all demographics in the entire world and yet, a few audio magazines are barely breathing trying to carry the weight of the industry in fewer and fewer pages.
is it possible that a more successful business model for stereophile, to expand the topics covered ?

granted, readers will be lost, but perhaps, others will be gained ?

what is sacrosanct about a one-subject magazine ?
Many years ago a collage professor said , to determine where we are going we must first understand where we came from . Rather than trying to reinvent itself with low priced gear , music servers, USB dacs and such , maybe Stereophile should look at the past . The glory days when Larry Archibald and J.G.H. ran the show . That would likely interest new readers more than a bunch of new technologies .