Keyboard Magazine Dead At Age 42

It appears that Keyboard magazine is dead at age 42.

We have not seen an official announcement from owner NewBay Media yet, but sources say that NewBay shared this message with people immediately impacted by the decision earlier today:

“Today we are introducing the new Electronic Musician, a publication uniting the best of Keyboard and Electronic Musician magazines into a single brand, to better serve the continued transformation of music and technology.

Led by veteran Editor-in-Chief Gino Robair, the new Electronic Musician will focus on topics from both magazines, as well as adding new insight into how artists and producers use technology to create today’s best music. The content will incorporate techniques and music lessons for recording, producing, and performing musicians with a focus on those who use the keyboard as a primary tool of expression.”

Keyboard magazine has been a fixture of the keyboard and electronic music world for over four decades, featuring interviews with some of the most important keyboard performers of our time, performance tutorials and transcriptions, music reviews and content by a who’s who of industry authors.

Subscribing to Keyboard was a rite of passage for many, who may have spent a long time staring at the glossy spreads….but read it for the articles.

72 thoughts on “Keyboard Magazine Dead At Age 42

  1. Haven’t picked up an issue in well over 20 years. Back then its focus was heavily on rock acts. I could see myself subscribing to the new merged Electronic Musician mag, but only if it has some good in-depth articles, because honestly, good ol’ synthtopia, gearslutz, and other web sites have more than enough content to keep me going between sessions.

  2. I quit my subscription soon after that embarrassing stint of fashion photography…remember John Legend coming out of a smoking piano or Gavin DeGraw (I think) hanging onto a suspended piano. I prefer before that when they had sexy stacks of rack samplers on the cover and other gorgeous hardware. The fashion photography joke of a phase coincided with the magazine in general not being able to keep up with the current batch of hard and soft ware reviews…months behind and consequently losing relevance when readership could get their info online ASAP. I used to love Conner Freff, Titus Levi, Jeff Roma, Mitch Gallager, Anderton, Aikens…it was a right of passage and its pages got me up and running…their reviews of the Kurz K2500s and the Korg Trinity sealed the deal for me to get my K2500s after having sold my first synth, the Korg O1/Wfd. Remember the Lichtenstein inspired Pop Art cover with the woman wondering if she could live with Delta Converter 128x oversamling, the Furman ad that was sexist and caused a ruckess, having a tour of Vince Clarke’s synth playground in the dome shaped building. RIP Keyboard, live long and prosper Sonic State!

    1. For some reason, this made me laugh so hard that milk came out of my nose, which is odd as I wasn’t drinking milk at the time. Thank you for that!

      1. Milk is causing cancer. Be more worried while drinking hormon-cocktails made for babys. 🙂
        Don’t know what will hapen to you nose now…..

  3. I am shocked… SHOCKED(!) that free news, reviews, videos, demos, forums for discussion, and more, on the internet are killing off print media!!! WOW. I never would have imagined that interactive and immediate, detailed updates about every possible product (for free) would have made a magazine staffed by people old enough to remember playing the harp for King George 3 completely redundant and out of touch.

    My monocle just fell out.

      1. Interesting to see that no one from the community of frequenters has made an analogy like hardware vs software, vinyl vs streaming and so on as has been made ad nosiam when it comes to sound making utilities.
        I wonder what would be the reaction if a matured hardware synth maker closes the shop and starts to give software counterparts for “free”.

    1. I still prefer reading a magazine by holding paper in my hand, which I can read on my sofa as comfortable as in the sunshine, can flip and mark pages faster then on a tablet….
      In the beginning, I did not miss one issue of the Keyboards Magazine in Germany, among others it had real high quality product tests. I stopped buying it when reports became more flat and tests where just a copy of the product informations of the manufacturer…..

      1. While I agree with you about digital versus print in terms of comfortable usage, dropping a tablet on one’s face while reading has actually been proven to help with reading comprehension and the increase of vocabulary with swear words.

    1. There was a run in the 80s where EVERY issue was a Keith Emerson issue. Which, as someone who had no interest (as still has no interest) in Emerson’s playing got a little tedious.

      1. That’s not accurate. I have every issue of Keyboard (began subscribing in the 70s and got all the back issues before that). There was the 1977 Keith Emerson special and another issue on him in 1988 both with him on the cover. That was about it for special issues devoted to him. One issue in 1986 had and article on the ELPowell band. Yes, there were columns by Keith in the 80s but it was a short run. So your claim that every issue was a Keith Emerson issue for a run in the 80s is fallacious. Whether or not you like him, he was extremely influential.

  4. This is a shame. I was a long-time subscriber, and even though I’ve followed them both on Facebook for a couple of years (and could see them converging more and more on topics there and in print), I always hoped Keyboard could keep going. I’ve looked to it since 1985 for reviews and *very* thoughtful insight, commentary and articles.

    They had some *wonderful* writers and very talented staff. I wish them all the best in whatever they pursue now.

  5. “Electronic Musician” sounds like a name more attuned to what’s actually happening in music, closer than “Synthtopia”. Anyway, keyboards are only a small part of it.

  6. The best ever reviewer for Keyboard Magazine was Jim Aikin. It was his articles that convinced me to buy certain synth models in the 90’s.

  7. Bit sad, this is the one music magazine I had a subscription to on my iPad specifically because it was about music & keyboards & technique & styles & transcripts – rather than how to adjust the mix of a specific VST…

    1. Agreed – I liked how Keyboard actually had information about playing keyboard instruments, as well as the structure and style of keyboard music. Actual transcripts and musical notation are nice as well.

  8. I subscribed in 1980 and also bought a lot of back magazines from the 70’s – but I stopped subscribing sometime in the 90’s cause the quality of the magazine was dropping. In the 70’s and 80’s you had great variety of articles focusing on all types of music even a monthly article on modern classical piano music, it was like the standard of the magazine fell from being at university level to a high school level, maybe this is just another part of the dumbing down phenomena we have been seeing.

  9. Keyboard Mag, has been a great resource over the years. Good technique sharing, articles, reviews, etc. The death of print media = watered down, copied from site to site, articles and reviews. Consumers lose, when a resource like this folds.

  10. Subscribed all during the 1990s, but I mostly gave up on physical reading media by 2000. Great content (back then at least), but I just don’t have the space/interest in dead tree storage anymore.

    Anyone want a 30-year collection of Fine Woodworking Magazine? 🙂

  11. Keyboard sucked but it was, as the article says, both an inspiration and rite of passage. All the sarcastic comments about print vs. Internet are annoying. Everything is available at my fingertips now but my imagination was fired much more in the days of print. I would imagine Keyboard’s Cyberpunk issue alone (showing age here) started more than a few careers.

    1. Does a copy of that issue exist online anywhere? I’d love to actually see it, but can’t quite justify the 30 dollars ebay wants for it.

  12. Bummer. One thing I have to say is that I actually enjoy(ed) perusing the advertisements in Keyboard magazine – they actually added value to the publication! Today I still enjoy looking at scans of ads for vintage synths and gear.

    In contrast, I actively despise the awful advertising that pervades most web sites, and I also hate adtech which loads junk from 60 different domains, slowing down page load time, burning up your data, violating privacy and exposing you to malware risks.

    However, I do enjoy watching videos and listening to demos of new synths on youtube (and on this site!) Those videos (as well as demos and songs on soundcloud) are fantastic advertising for the equipment (and/or software) that is being demonstrated. Sweetwater’s videos are also excellent advertising.

    I’m not sure who originally said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, but I’ve found the web version of Rolling Stone (for example) to be far superior to the print magazine simply because you can actually listen to the music.

    1. Stephen Fortner here, an editor from 2006 through 2015 and editor in chief from 2009-2015. Your observation about liking the ads in print vs. web was actually something I often brought up in strategy meetings with the sales team. I find a good print article stays with me more than something I glance over on the web, but it’s true: until we get those newspapers from “Harry Potter,” print can’t do multimedia, and combining sight and sound is hugely valuable to evaluating musical equipment.

      1. Thanks for your reply and comments Stephen! I have had similar experiences of the persistence and value of quality, long-form print articles.

        I have no idea how the business model would work, but I would really like to see some combination of print and online to deliver the best of both worlds. I like how Sound on Sound makes its archives available online (though after an embargo period) – those are a huge service to the musical world, and precisely what got me interested in Sound on Sound to begin with. However, they are more like web versions of individual articles rather than a full digital replica of the print magazine, or an app version. I’d love it if each print magazine I bought included the digital/PDF/app version(s) of itself somehow, in a way that could be downloaded and also was persistent so you could re-download as needed. Then if I ever needed to archive or recycle the print copy due to limited shelf space I’d still have a permanent, easily accessible and searchable digital copy (though apps tend to break with each new OS release, so something like PDF is probably better.) I could also keep the whole set on my phone or iPad. I’d also like it to be as easy as possible to watch any videos or listen to sound examples from a print article.

  13. One other thing I’ve noticed is that many UK magazines (which sadly are also suffering) seem to be better than their American counterparts. I think this might be because they are often sold individually at news stands rather than via subscription.

  14. Keyboard Magazine was practically the only resource for keyboard musicians to get news, reviews, interviews and tips in the 70’s, and a subscription was a no-brainer. But in it’s latter years the reviews were mediocre and lacked real criticism, likely because the magazine didn’t want to risk offending their advertising base. Interviews became repetitive and the magazine ceased being relevant. Also the magazine’s forums were poorly moderated. I stopped reading, subscribing, posting and even contributing as a freelance writer years ago, and unless this new version of Electronic Musician can improve where Keyboard failed, it won’t last either.

  15. Well, with all the artist and machine makers that passed away last year, a change would be inevitable
    There is allot of major shifts going on and not only in music.
    I saw it with the last black friday where the crowd was just not there (no at big sale levels at least)
    it looks to be a time of big change
    I just hope some good ones come about

  16. I gave my whole collection of KB magz (1975 – 2000 incl.) to the Montreal University’s music department in the hope that they will be better preserved there. I also hope that someone wil scan all the printed issues and produce it in a PDF format or something made available to the public…

  17. Maybe it has to do with the growing lack of real keyboard players.
    This is a reflection of the increaing market of toy-key-keyboards (Korg, Roland) and pad-sampleclip-players (Novation), which obviously are not made for real musicians (in the meaning of studied instrument artists).

    1. The thing is, “real music” ain’t the same as it was 30 years ago.

      The focus has largely moved away from keyboard chops to production chops.

      I do miss the great players of the 70s, but most of them used synths like a fancy keyboard, rather than as a completely new tool for creating new types of music.

  18. A large portion of my youth was spent lusting after the keyboards in that rag. Sometimes I’d even actually get a keyboard they wrote about, which was always exciting. In the 80’s they did seem on top of the zeitgeist, but just as keyboards faded in the 90’s pop world, so did Keyboard. I think Keyboard was the perfect compliment to the 80’s, but beyond that it started to get stale. Almost out of nostalgia I subscribed to their online version a couple of years ago, but it really didn’t have much that held my interest any more. RIP, Keyboard. You made it fun to be a keyboardist in the 80s.

  19. anyone remember the great little plastic vinyl records you would get with them to hear examples of artists and different synthesizers etc? I loved Keyboard magazine since I started reading it in the early 80’s…. living in Minnesota, and pining away for these instruments from another galaxy…. I would pore through every article and ad, and still have saved my favorite issues from over the years through probably over 20 moves (the Eno, Peter Gabriel, Cure, DM, articles etc…)…. Thanks for all the joy you brought us guys…. As us musicians are losing revenue in the current time, sad to lose another bastion of the good fight… Would love it if I could fine scanned .pdfs of back issues somewhere online….

  20. 42 is the answer…

    Anyway, it was honestly about time, because nobody cares about magazine anymore. Let save the planet and let’s stop cutting tree to make paper! We live in a digital age now!

  21. Used to love KM, but the reviews gradually stopped being critical. Jim Aikin had real integrity as a reviewer, he gave many a rompler of the 80’s and 90’s a hard time.

  22. First subscribed in 1985 but stopped in the early 90s. It didn’t feel as relevant for some reason.

    Congrats to them for surviving this long, really. Their target audience has been technically savvy enough to get similar info from the internet for 20 years. That they kept it a float during all that time feels like a bit of a marvel!

  23. They really have themselves to blame. I bought it for years during the 1990s but the editors were stuck in a pop-rock groove- house and techno clearly didn’t exist for them/

  24. that straight up sucks. Been reading it since it was Contemporary Keyboard. Yeah its gotten thinner and less interesting of late but it was still a good read. Ah well.

  25. I was a contributing editor for Keyboard Mag from 2000 until just now, writing the Dance Mix, Sound Design and iOS columns, as well as countless reviews and in-depth tutorials. To those who say the reviews were overly positive, that wasn’t the case with my pieces. As the page count dwindled in the past 5 years, it simply became easier to ignore gear that wasn’t top notch – and when there was an problem with a product, I made it *very* clear what those issues were, in detail.

    I was so devoted as a reviewer that when the Roland Boutiques were released, I took them all to Switched On music (Austin’s vintage gear shop) and *recorded* A/B comparisons between the Boutiques and the original units. The JX3P was identical. And the Juno was extremely close to perfection (unfortunately the vintage unit didn’t have the factory presets anymore, which would have improved the A/B), etc, etc.

    Never once did I candy-coat a review to appease an advertiser, and with my newer work with EM, I still don’t.

    As for tutorials, over the past 17 years, I wrote (wait for it) 200 columns on sound design techniques for both dance music and other electronic music genres. Each column was unique and many of them made it into my 2006 book, The Remixer’s Bible, which for its time was pretty innovative (if I may be so bold as to be proud of that assignment).

    Nowadays, I’m writing masterclasses for Electronic Musician on topics like Serum, the OB-6, and the Synclavier. These are *not* trivial synths and I’ve yet to find an online resource with the same level of depth, detail, and over 15 years’ experience in professional preset design behind it. They’re all on the EM site. Right now.

    I know this will sound like I’m blowing my horn at this point – but to be clear, it’s not coming from a position of ego or arrogance – it’s coming from a sound designer, college professor, and journalist who truly cares about his journalism and wants to share insights as a programmer, for those who care about learning about the art and science of synthesis.

    As for teaching more “modern” techniques, I was also the technology editor for Beatportal for several years, writing tutorials and reviews for the DJ/Dance audience, until SFX fucked that up and the site got axed.

    Keyboard Magazine was how I actually learned synthesis back in the 80s, and for four decades, it was a place for electronic artists to hone their skills from guys who were out there doing it for a living.

    I miss it already – and will continue my work with Electronic Musician. For those of you who enjoyed my writing for Keyboard, there’s still more to come with EM. Both sites are easy to find – with nearly all articles available for reading, for those who prefer free internet resources.

    Even so, losing Keyboard is the end of an era for many of the guys who helped create this industry, so please treat our loss – and yours – with some respect.

    1. I can vouch for Francis; I was Tech Editor for a bit and was his “boss” in that role. He’s telling the truth.

      I sat at the feet of Jim Aikin, and learned the product-review ropes from him. The integrity of my own reviews has never caused me the loss of a moment’s sleep. Readers first. We let the publishers duke it out with the advertisers.

    2. Francis, as a subscriber for the past five years, let me tell you that your articles (and others, of course…and the adverts…but really – primarily your articles) are what kept me coming back. (I think the only one I had any question with one as of late – was why the Roland System 8 wasn’t a “Keybuy”…but no matter.)

      Really, thank you for such well-written evaluations and thoughts – looking forward to reading more in EM!

  26. Thanks again to everyone who worked on Keyboard – it was definitely influential and occasionally inspiring for me as well. (I also miss computer magazines and was sad to see Macworld die in 2014, even though it continues to exist in diminished form as a web site.)

    And to the point of the picture, I’m sure that Martin Gore and Vince Clarke (that is the top of his head right?) send their regards (and perhaps condolences) as well. 😉

  27. I read every issue, in paper form, from Contemporary Keyboard Volume 1 issue 1. Yes there were periods when I did not like the LA-centric bias and unsubscribed but I bought back every issue I missed. Sad to see something that helped my understanding of music and synthesis go. My thanks to every writer and editor and designer and all the companies who considered it the number one place to show their new products and to all the musicians who were interviewed and talked about not just gear but all the music and musicians that inspired them. It inspired me.

  28. 30 year subscriber here. I will be sad to see Keyboard Mag go, it taught me everything I know. The synth reviews were always excellent and I enjoyed a lot of great software and iPad app reviews. A lot of what made this magazine special vanished over the years. The letters column, vintage synth reviews, tips and tricks columns, etc. They mostly featured Jazz artists lately, mad respect to those artists, but boring and uninteresting as hell. Keyboard magazine used to be great, but as of late, they should have called it Jazz Keyboard Magazine. Stupid editors killed my favorite mag, thanks for nothing you unimaginative sh*t heads. They should have sold to Disney, where they listen to fans and deliver where it counts. Despite my evil thoughts, seeing KB Mag in my mail every month was like seeing an old friend come to visit, looked forward to it after a long day at work sometimes. I guess all good things must end. Cheers KB Mag, you will be missed.

  29. Used to subscribe in the 80s and 90s. Lost interest along the way because the magazine just got more and more dumbed down. The few musical examples started to dwindle. To be honest, I got lured away from Keyboard by guitar magazines. Every guitar magazine always had 6 or 7 full transcriptions, with complete solos, and on top of that they’d have articles accompanying each song breaking down the soloing and the chords and going step by step explaining the modes and how the solo was written.

    I ended up learning a ton from guitar magazines. I’d read keyboard and it was always more like a gear catalog. You could go 40 or 50 pages before you’d see a treble clef. They had a handful of examples but really, as the magazine went on, it stopped being geared for people who could play.

    They tried to help their reviews with the keybuy but every issue had 2 or 3 things getting the keybuy so they neutered it’s value right out of the gate.

    I completely wrote off keyboard magazine after they ran that issue a few years ago with the cover shot being of that DJ guy with his hands raised over the crowd. It was official that keyboard wasn’t geared towards musicians anymore.

    I will say that those racy ads were the best though…

    Someone mentioned furman which was great…

    But does anyone remember that Generalmusic one? The black and white one with the guy and girl half naked lying in the hay or something. That was great. And there was another one – I can’t remember – a small company and they ran an ad that was a terminator knock off with a hot chick and people freaked out. I wish I could remember that one – that was like 15 years ago.

  30. Sorry to see it go. I had dropped my paper subscription mainly to “save some trees” and lower the house clutter, but I enjoyed reading the electronic version. I grew up on it through the late 70s and have kept some key issues (Rick Wakeman, Ray Charles, etc) over time. I hope that the combined forces with EM and KB joined they will be more viable than the magazines were separately.

    1. Magazines are mostly made from recycled paper. Most trees today are falling for billions of “Coffe to go” cups, which can not be made of recycled paper…..

  31. If I still had a working record player, I’d dig out some of my Sequential “sound sheets” from Keyboard, grab a penny and play those babies. Keyboard was a fixture in my life in the 70s, 80s and 90s. not so much in the 21st century, sadly. Buy at least the combo of EM and KB into ONE pub makes more sense for the publisher. It’s like having two cooking magazines — why not put them together. That worked for Stereo Review and Home Theatre.

  32. Subscribed all through my teens and quite some time into my twenties (stopped subscribing around 2005 I think), hard to overstate just how much Keyboard meant for me musically – both productionwise and for my playing.

    While I can see why that business model is dying, I think it just wouldn’t be the same growing up watching youtube tutorials and reading about gear on the gearslutz forums. Keyboard opened my mind musically to so much stuff I wouldn’t have found on my own, especially through their fantastic in-depth interviews.

  33. I’ve been a devoted hard copy reader for years. ‘Have the first half-dozen years or so, then lost interest
    for a decade or so when it became more of a software issue. I saw the handwriting on the wall about a year ago, when I started receiving what I call the ‘Keyboard’ newsletter — issues so small in pages because even major advertisers of the past were gone or taking out business-card-sized ads.

    Through it all, I must say the writing seems to have improved, the transcriptions have less notation errors, and the interviews of the movers and shakers in the industry have been inspiring and insightful. And, Craig Anderton’s and Jim Aikin’s articles, when they appeared, were still a joy to read.

    I hope Electronic Musician devotes major space to the topics that appeared in Keyboard. Tony Banks’ ‘Cinema Show’ ARP Pro Soloist solo printed out? An entire issue themed around the late Bob Moog and the Mini Moog? It doesn’t get much cooler, no matter how much the current, music production afficionados enjoy 2-octave, mini keyboard toys and emulation software. I support them, too; but a part of my world has just gotten a bit smaller with the demise of this focused magazine.

    Naysayers aside, losing Keyboard as its own independent magazine is like losing a long-time musician-friend. I look forward to reading the April issue of EM, and hope the editorial staff and contributing columnists continue to carry the torch.

  34. I am and have been a subscriber for most of those 42 years. I learned modal theory – and so much more – from Dick Hyman’s column. I learned licks from Lavitz,, learned why I wouldn’t wanna do film music from Jeff Rona, etc, etc… . There is almost always a copy of Keyboard by the piano. EM should have been rolled in to Keyboard. (And I say that with no offense the EM. I was a subscriber of both Polyphony and later EM into the ’90s.)

  35. Keyboard introduced me to MIDI, analog as well as digital synths. I learned a lot about playing, techniques and all that back when Jim Akin and his colleagues wrote excellent articles/columns. Those were the times when they were challenging every spec of gear. T’was the golden era of Keyboard Mag if I may say.

  36. Wish keyboard magazine would digitize their entire archive. They’ve amazing interviews with artists of past. Historical purposes. To see how how it was done back then

  37. The demise of KEYBOARD as a separate entity is very sad news. I hope they put the entire archive of issues online, because KEYBOARD provides a musician’s-eye record of the history of music technology from the analog years of the 1970s right up to today. Not to mention all the great musicians they covered. Well, I’m glad I kept all my back issues… ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN came on the scene a bit later than KEYBOARD and is still well worth reading. To those who made snide comments about these publications – you are ignorant and it’s your loss. Synthtopia, GearSlutz, etc. are also great but there is no substitute for having a group of expert writers focusing full-time on their subject matter. And, these writers and editors filtered out a lot of the rumors, bullshit, technical errors, and stupid religious arguments that plague most online media.

  38. I don’t know which is the saddest story here: the death of Keyboard Magazine or the people that canceled their magazine subscriptions because they think they are ‘saving the earth’ by not supporting a recycled paper publication?

  39. As a touring multi-keyboardist setting out in the mid 1970’s, Contemporary Keyboards was a Bible. I would read and re-read, cover to cover and then lend it to the sound and equipment techs for them to read. When I wrote to the mag with a question I received a hand-written note from Domenic Milano that included a supporting schematic diagram. There are some genres I am not inclined to follow but I was interested in approaches and philosophies of the interviewed artists. Content included equipment tips for understanding: chord voicings, song arrangements, theory for deriving synthesiser patches by Robert Moog, technological developments by Thom Rhea, artist history and biography by Leonard Feather, finessing Hammond organs by Tom Coster and, Craig Anderton do-it-yourself kits…I could go on…Every issue was 10 new chapters of text book.
    My main regret is that they began publishing after I left college.

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