If you follow this blog and/or our facebook pages you may have noticed a gigantic controversy that happened yesterday. First off, I owe you, the reader, customer, former customers, and potential customers, a gigantic apology.
From the beginning of Wampler, I've always encouraged my employees to work on what I would call their "personal brand", meaning that I want them to understand that the social media platform is groundbreaking. It allows one to help others, share your knowledge with the world, and unfortunately sometimes hurt others. This can be great if used for the right purpose. I've allowed and encouraged Jason Wilding and Alex Clay (and others before them) to post on our company blog if they have content that brings value to those reading it. In fact, everything I do is an attempt to bring you, the reader, value in some way, whether that's by information, education, and/or entertainment.
Yesterday it got out of hand. I woke up to a blog post about Phil Mcknight (popular youtuber) with a title that had....emm colorful language in it. It went on to rant about the power of gear "influencers" and how it's important for them to know the subject they are broadcasting to the world. Granted, the content and general idea was correct. Phil said that you can tell the value of a pedal by looking inside of it, then he went on to say the exact opposite and say that you can't judge a pedal by looking at it. He pointed out the use of "SMD components" and "PCB mounted jacks" as proof. Even Robert Keeley jumped into the conversation to explain how these were actually far superior. However, the blog post in general came off like a bitter angry person. I can't share disciplinary actions but I do want you to be assured that the situation was handled internally swiftly, thoroughly, and appropriately.
I just want to extend my most sincere apologies to you. I want you to know that I've set up precautions to *never* let this happen again. And, I understand if you want nothing more to do with us - though I do hope in time you do forgive us.
Lastly, I think it's appropriate to give Jason the space to speak about this as well, where he was coming from, and his thoughts on this situation.
Unfortunately, I seem to have upset some people with my blog yesterday. I understand if the bad language, or the style of the piece, offended you and I would like to apologise for that. Unreservedly and completely.
Having said that, can we take a look at the entire situation from a broader perspective? One of the reasons I’ve been with Wampler for so long is that I am not a “yes man” when discussing issues with Brian. He has always encouraged me to be outspoken, to speak in a way that will make people stand up and think about the issues – and let’s remember what the real issue is here – it was to start a conversation that was being overlooked again and again. Brian had offered multiple times to have the conversation in private, or on a video collaboration with Phil, but it was rejected – we noticed that Phil had made a blog piece stating that no one was trying to tell help him and show how he was wrong… But this is exactly what Brian was trying to do – and continued to do so after publishing his blog piece.
In my position, I have to read all the forums and watch all the videos, I often start to notice patterns, comments and questions – and sometimes these are not based in fact, they are based on emotion. For example, a lot of people talk about pedal clones (and companies that do them), but where is the discussion about Strat copies or Plexi amps? At what point is it wrong to clone? That can’t be answered because it’s based on emotion, somethings “feel” wrong, and other things “feel" fine. We have always tried to help our viewers/customers by digging in and looking for the facts behind it. Any one of Brian’s recent videos about TubeScreamers will show that better than I can explain it here. A lot of people won’t like it, as it’s uncomfortable to have their thoughts and beliefs challenged, but at least then the conversation has been started.
Many of the things I have noticed since reading the reactions to my blog, is that many people who objected to it were overlooking the original issue. And that is to understand who is in the position of being an industry influencer. Phil said in his response video (that I watched once late last night and appears to have been deleted this morning) was that he is just a guy giving an opinion. I don’t doubt for a minute that is what he feels he is, but when you have 128k subscribers and you are giving opinions, you are influencing people in their choices. He is an industry influencer, and that is said as a compliment. He has built his channel to such a position that he can influence people to make a purchase, or not make one. One of the reasons I got so mad when writing the piece (which I fully admit that I should have backed away from the anger) was because I read the comment thread under the video, and it is safe to say that his comments had influenced the people watching it. Now, I – or we – do not have a problem with opinions, but what I have a problem with is when those opinions are presented in such a way they appear to confirm a myth that damages the industry we work in, and in turn, can lead the customer to a gear choice they are unhappy with because it’s not right for them.
Before Facebook, YouTube and gear forums, there were magazines. And if a magazine said that a pedal should have been much cheaper than it is just by looking inside, they would have upset many people who expected a higher standard of proof. Social Media has meant that people can now upload what they want, when they want, and it does not have to be accurate. Maybe accuracy isn’t as important as it used to be for some of us these days, maybe we don’t consider the value of accurate information. I don’t know. However, at the end of the day, it does nothing but hurt the end customer. This was the point that I felt I had to stand up for you, the customer, and to give balance to the video. Albeit in a way that was incorrect. If you look past the bad language choices, you see that every point I made was referenced to give the customer the chance to decide for themselves, rather than have it decided by one YouTubers opinion. A lot of people have asked why I am sticking up for a competitor’s product, but it doesn’t matter who’s pedal it was, this is not about JHS, this is about the entire musical instrument industry and the way it is viewed.
I can understand that some were upset by my comments and I am completely open if you would like to discuss this with me personally - I am easy to find on social media.The blog on the Wampler site is one where Alex and I hav the freedom to speak as we wish, although it is safe to say that should something like this come up again, I promise you that I will not use that kind of language, be more diplomatic, and leave the anger at the door. It’s in no-ones interest to let passion turn into anger –the last thing we all want is for that to be the issue, rather than the discussion we are needing to have.