Ethic and marketing, transparency and social media


This post was an attempt to bring a critical discussion about the influencers in the music industry and more specifically the eurorack community.

Poorly writing by my self, my original post was talking about individuals. Of course it had to come out wrong and people took it like a direct attack. I’ll then edit my post. You can check the original version if you want to.

Where do you stand regarding the use of social media as a marketing platform?

We already have great discussions about the subject like Quitting MW Reddit FB Social media, Marketing without social media, some also interesting on MW, but after the last segment from Last Week Tonight about influencers, I felt like some improvements could be made.

I’m using social media. I’m trying to keep it simple though, not FB account, try to avoid sharing personal stuff, keeping it as a tool to follow interesting people. So I’m directly confronted with marketing content regarding modular material.

I’m not questioning the quality content of the video neither the time spend and legitimate passion from those content creators. I just wished that they made it clear when such content is paid by manufacturers, or module were send for free. That would make me respect their work even more.

But I’m totally biased on this topic.

I know I’m the consumer, so fully responsible. But I wished that all this was a lot more transparent.


Using social media as a marketing tool seems fine to me. It’s similar in approach to putting posters in street, giving flyers to people etc. If you’re making something and you want to share it, it make sense to use the tools that are available to you.

I’d avoid mentioning people because it do feel like judging individuals - text based communication is imperfect and we should be mindful of that. But the music tech channels you mentioned are usually pretty clear about what is paid or not.

3 things to consider:

  • If your mission is to share gear reviews, how do you make it sustainable if you buy everything when it is released?
  • even when gear is sent by a company, they seem honest in their review
  • if you feel that most review are too “positive”, it might be because most gear today is at least pretty good? Gear quality is very high these days. And that’s great! It means a beginner has less chance to make a big mistake when getting a starting kit.

For channels that are less “music tech” but still review gear regularly, I think it goes back to the same point: good gear is exciting! And again, I feel like they are already good at being transparent (I remember a video about captain chord vst that was very clearly sponsored).

I also think it’s our responsibility to not GAS on everything we see. Being at peace with what we have, and if we chose to look at content related to new gear, using it as inspiration for what we have, instead of GAS fuel

Lastly, I think humans on lines are expressing their personal views and not pushing their content, even the “bigger brands”.

EDIT: surprisingly I have a lot of thoughts about that :smiley:

About social media you say “keeping it as a tool to follow interesting people.”. If you don’t want too much marketing content, maybe follow less gear reviewers? Change your curating criteria, follow more artists, writers, people outside of the music field?

We still have a lot to learn about social media and how we use it. We should try to make it more human. Maybe not sharing sensitive information, but sharing thoughts, ideas, struggles, could make it a lot more interesting than what it’s used for by most.


I don’t want less marketing content. I want marketing content to be clearly stated as such.

That’s the whole point of my post. But you’re right, text based communication is imperfect, and I’m not a native English speaker.


What are the ethics of assuming a fellow member of this forum is acting in bad faith? What are the ethics of treating a person not as a human being, but as a brand?


None. Not my point at all.

I was speaking openly about a feeling I got, when the lines are blurred between the individual and the brand. Not putting a label on a person.


I think it’s safe to say he’s here as an individual. I’m personally quite happy to see him here discussing topics as an individual as I try to avoid his content on YT because in that case I am being fed a brand(which is completely fine but not what I’m into).


Thanks for all for your remarks, I’ve edited my post. Let’s hope this would bring some more constructive discussion now.


I think an important point to consider is “what is marketing?” and what would need to be more transparent.

As I said in my previous post, I think sponsored content is mostly transparent and well defined, I personally am happy of how communicated they are.

But for everything else it’s more complicated: If someone got a piece of gear and is excited about it, what is the difference if the piece was received for free or paid? As long as it’s a genuine opinion is what would matter to me, and the reputation of the person will inform how I read it.

Another kind of marketing that you are not talking about is the “brand on the t shirt” kind of marketing. It might not feel like marketing, but anyone posting images of modules on instagram/twitter/lines/etc is promoting these modules.

Going back to your point:

I understand the feeling, it would be nice to separate “things that make us want to buy stuff” from everything else. But I think it’s impossible, because of this diversity.

The best solution I have at the moment is critical viewing and education: recognise when someone is selling something, not getting too easily into “hype mode”.

And if we want to reduce the impact of marketing content - consuming less marketing content. (this is not for you specifically but as a general tool).


I would say that few if any of these are active marketing – the module sellers don’t control the message, and the people making the videos aren’t their spokespeople.

You mentioned Sonic State, and I would say that’s something of an exception – their format is much more review-like and you’ll often see Nick Batt telling you what he doesn’t like and what he thinks is missing from the thing in question.

Here’s why I don’t think there is a serious ethics issue here:

  • nobody is giving review scores which might be biased
  • nobody is doing direct comparisons between modules, showing that Brand A is “better” than Brand B, which might be biased
  • nobody is making guides about which gear you should get, which might be biased

We’re not being scammed, and I don’t think module brands are applying a lot of leverage – it’s just exposure. And it works, because seeing them in action is enough without some kind of sales pitch to go along with it.


I think this is a little too simple of an approach. There are plenty of people out there saying which gear people should buy by the virtue itself of having that gear in a video. They are stating their preferences by representation, and the more-followed content creators have a larger platform, which means more visibility for those products, which in turn means those products will sell more. They don’t have to blatantly say “Buy this thing,” all they have to do is use it or show it for people to be influenced. That is real marketing, that is incredibly valuable marketing.

Whether this is ethical or inethical is a different question entirely. A community would have to define what a certain set of ethics are and agree upon them. I think it’s ethical, personally, for social media content creators to try and make a living with their work, and that may take a lot of forms. Maybe that means a free piece of gear here and there. I also feel the manufacturers are engaging in this ethically, it’s a pretty simple barter arrangement.

I’m also of the opinion that the way social media and capitalism intertwine has a lot of ethical issues, and a major part of that is the fact that consuming media is a form of capital. It doesn’t have to be monetary to have an effect. It doesn’t even have to be selling a product, in the same way that lifestyles are brands, ideologies are brands. I think we have social responsibility to this end, and it’s a responsibility that seems often neglected or disrespected.

I feel like it’s not a scam, but also we need to be approaching it from the very beginning under the assumption that things are vying for our attention, thoughtspace, time, and, essentially, money. We keep calling these platforms “social media” without really dissecting what those two words mean together. Especially in light of what they have become.


I’m not sure that having influencers explicitly state how they are compensated would change much. My main impression is that there is a sense of jealousy amongst a very gear hungry crowd.


Not the topic of my post though, but I can understand why people make the shortcut.

My question is: would it be more ethical to state any compensation as influencer, or wouldn’t it be?


Maybe it’s not exactly the topic, but in my mind, that’s where some of the sentiment stems from.

Just my opinion though.

Also, to answer your question, I guess I see a lot of unspoken cues that inform me around this, so I personally don’t see the need for explicit statements.


I understand your opinion. But I’m sure the question still stand without this assumption.

I took some time to write my original post, because I knew I was being sensitive and expressing something really personal who could back fire at me. Like it did.

But I still wish that we could elevate the discussion to it’s main topic. I already saw how this discussion can go to a dead end. I hope that it won’t this time, because it can be a really interesting exchange of point of view, as we can all relate to it.

Good points have already being made so far.


I think it’s probably more ethical, but does it really make a difference? There are youtube music tech reviewers that mention whether or not the device was provided by the manufacturer, but in either case, they usually present things in the exact same way.

I’d have a problem with some kind of “top 5 best DAWs” video where Ableton Live is #1 and the presenter was paid by Ableton but didn’t disclose it. But then, I’m not sure it even matters. I would never buy a Live license based on a single lists-for-clicks video, and anyone who did might have some bigger questions to ask of themselves than was that video presenter a shill.

In the case of individuals participating in general discussions, we all have our biases, and it’s up to each of us to make a decision about any other participant’s opinion, whether or not they were paid.

As an example, I’d be surprised to see anyone here attack monome, but I don’t think that invalidates anything anyone here might have to say about monome devices.


I wouldn’t dream of attacking monome, but I also wouldn’t hesitate to critique monome designs if I felt the need to do so.

I come here for the community but I’d be lying if I said that hanging around here hasn’t put the seed in my mind that I might enjoy using monome products.

And I don’t have an issue with that. I don’t feel anybody is being deceptive in any way, and the time I spend here is entirely of my own choosing.

I understand the desire for explicitly stated intentions, an urge to banish ulterior motives. Calling it out may be a good way to get folks to be a little more conscious about what they are doing and why they are doing it. But I’m not going to get wound 'round the axle if folks don’t go out of their way to do this, partially because we aren’t even always aware of our own ulterior motives.

How should we navigate our desires in a late-capitalist society? How might we navigate our desires in a post-capitalist society? Can we even imagine a post-capitalist society, in any capacity?

“Someone once said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.” -Fredric Jameson


Going back to the analogy of “putting posters in the streets”, I think a big difference with social media is that it’s a virtual wall. It’s only in our landscape because we want it to be. And everything (except sponsored posts and the like) are things we want to see there.

I don’t really like wide attacking statements. I think calling out someone doing something bad is useful, and we need to be vigilant if we want to change things for the better.

Also, we need to be careful with the word “ethic”.
First because it’s been weaponised by certain groups under false pretences (I’m thinking of gamergate and a bunch of similar recent situations).

But also because ethic is not a set of neatly defined rules with things absolutely right or wrong. One could argue something is ethical because X and another say it’s unethical because Y and both could be right.


What’s ethical is ensuring there’s still a community where people from various contexts can feel welcome and free to express themselves. Objectivity is not about flattening difference by way of a single totalizing concept, one that would somehow be “free” from bias. Objectivity comes not through rhetoric, but discourse. A discourse that’s not about resolving differences, but leveraging them to tell a collective story, one with many twists and turns. A story that never ends and is always held open to revision. A community of mutual respect is what allows discourse to happen. It allows difference to be preserved as difference rather than totalized into a single concept that ends the conversation.

That being said, I think the best thing that can be expressed at this point in the interest of ethics and objectivity is how much I appreciate Andrew and his contributions not only here but in the modular community in general.

Obviously, we come from very different places, and so I guess we’ve had differences. But I think those differences have been productive. For my part, they led directly to introspection in terms of my own creative process. This introspection helped transform that process. I would have been absolutely unable to think those concepts without the difference that occasioned them. We began with difference, and we ended with difference, but something very real and indeed “objective” nonetheless came forth.

In other words, I don’t think much was accomplished in the attempt to make the topic more “general”, and to attempt to follow it up that way, without actually going back and addressing the problem still feels … I would say “icky” at the very least. It’s missing this much broader picture that to a certain extent to pursue the “objective” and discover our own contexts in which we frame things, which may be commercial, or which may be simply because we come from a certain culture and place… we need most fundamentally to be able to trust and respect one another… I appreciate that you’re trying but I can’t yet decouple the “broader discussion” from the initial event, and so I felt I needed to make a few things clear in explicit support of Andrew.


little side-anecdote on the subject…

A couple months ago when Arturia released their latest drum machine (forgot the name… brute something), I remember opening up YouTube and having no less than 5, 6 or 7 review videos for the product being suggested to me on my homepage.

My overall reaction was… “uhh… gross”. It just felt like such a blunt manipulation of the YouTuber ecosystem to launch this coordinated assault on my attention span. I normally appreciate the videos that YouTubers make on these machines, and I do appreciate transparency around the machinations that enable their content, but there was something that felt very unsavory about this campaign.


Yes I’m bothered by influencers, the blurred line between commercial and non commercial content.

I’m bothered by how it biased my point of view about an individual, and that was what I was trying to explain thru my example with Andrew Huang posts here.

I’m also bothered by how people can assume the worst of what were my intentions and the irony of some posts.