An Open Letter to Guitar Tricks


faith83
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faith83
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04/08/2021 6:37 pm

An Open Letter to Guitar Tricks

I enjoy Guitar Tricks and find it has a lot of value. But it's hard not to notice that GT overwhelmingly features songs by white men in your song selection.

[br]I'm posting this to request that Guitar Tricks make a commitment to equal representation and diversity by including equal numbers of songs by women and by people of color in your catalog. Given that new songs being added keep being 100% male and almost 100% white, I don't see any effort being made at all to rectify this problem.

[br]Please don't answer that GT is just responding to "what people want" and that if I have a particular song I want included, I should request it (which is the answer I got when I emailed about this). That's the excuse that's always used to sidestep taking action on issues of social justice and equality. It's not my responsibility to diversify your song catalog, it's yours.

People request what they're aware of, and if songs by women and people of color aren't visible on the platform, it further marginalizes and makes people less likely to think of those songs, and thus marginalizes artists who aren't white males.

[br]The world of guitar and music in general is so much bigger and more interesting than just white men and I hope that GT does a better job of reflecting the beautiful diversity that is truly representative of music.

I've said my piece. I hope it makes a difference.


"I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk."

# 1
Guitar Tricks Admin
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Guitar Tricks Admin
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04/08/2021 6:57 pm

Hi Faith,

Thank you for this forum post. We greatly appreciate your feedback in regards to this matter. I will be forwarding this message to our development team. We do have a wide variety of artists of varying backgrounds featured on the website. You can use the search function (the magnifying glass icon) to search for any artist or song you would like to learn. In addition, if you have any song/artists requests, please submit those ideas to our Song Request Forum! We are constantly working to add more songs and artists to our platform, and strive to remain inclusive. Thank you for being a part of Guitar Tricks!


If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us.
# 2
Kelenpe
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Kelenpe
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04/08/2021 7:19 pm

@Faith83

Thanks for posting your message, I fully agree with your obsevation.

I also noticed that the diversity in the song selection is limited it can and must be improved in my opinion...

Additionally, diversity in genre would also be welcome (ex: Funk, Soul, Reggae). I like Rock but some more balance towards other genre maybe...


Yamaha Pacifica 112v and APX600

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snojones
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04/08/2021 10:08 pm

Joni Mitchell, Sarah Mclachlan, Melissa Etheridge, Heart, Shawn Colvin, Bonnie Raitt.... immediatly come right off the top of my head. All of these women would fit right into the current song line up. They are all monsters of musical ablity.

I am sure that others would name many more. I vote for a Women Ax Slingers Department. Women are the majority of the skilled song writters in the last buch of years. A serious effort to have more songs by women, would be a good start on making GT better reflect the musical landscape.


Captcha is a total pain in the........

# 4
Tinpan
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Tinpan
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04/08/2021 11:56 pm

Oh dear. I hadn't even thought about that. I guess we like what we like and not everyone looks at everything through race or gender.

I just close my eyes and open my ears and if it sounds good to me then I couldn't give a crap who wrote it or what colour their skin may be.

You said "don't tell me to request'? Why not...that is a reasonable answer. If enough people like a song and that goes to top of list as a result, then ..bang...equality.

I really hope that GT admin' don't think along these lines...there's enough kneejerk accusations going on around all sorts of subjects across the planet without making music about sexism or racism too.

Now.....I'm going to keep requesting Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix songs and keep my fingers crossed. If they don't make it, then I guess not enough members agree with my tastes, but doubt because Jimi was black.


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William MG
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William MG
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04/09/2021 12:19 am

Well said Tin. Let's focus on the music and try to improve our skills.


This year the diet is definitely gonna stick!

# 6
moosehockey18
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moosehockey18
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04/09/2021 12:47 am

This is a pretty important subject so I`ll add my two cents for what it`s worth.

I`m all for diversity in music. They don`t call it the universal language for nothing.

That being said........

GT is a private for profit company. Their 2 most important responsibilities are :

1) Give their customers what they want.

2) Make a profit.

If they don`t achieve those two things then nothing else matters because they go out of business. If there`s a certain genre or type of music or specific artist(s) that we want, then it`s up to us to request those . GT cannot be in the business of being the arbiter of what types of music we should be exposed to. Purchasing song rights cost money ( as we found out recently with the loss of a number of song lessons here) and GT needs to spend their money wisely if they`re going to stay in business. We , the subscribers have the power to determine what song content exists on GT. Therefore, it`s up to us to make it known to GT what WE want. That`s how the free market works.

Anyway, that`s it. Back to practicing guitar !


# 7
W3
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04/09/2021 10:34 am

I wholeheartedly agree with tinpan and the moose. This website is about learning rock, funk, blues, country and others. Not every song is one I would've picked but I get it, someone else did in a majority way. By the way y'all pick some great rockers. But if you decide to start choosing solely by the color, sex or multi-gendered (?) part of an artist, then I am gone. Faith, if that's what your sole determination and guidelines for how you play guitar, great, have fun. But if you want me to embrace that for myself, start your own site or perhaps there's someone who's got the capital to do it. The players here are looking for the best guitar driven songs. I'm like tinpan, I close my eyes and just dig into the sound. I don't see color or gender. If that's not how you hear the music you love, maybe it's not about the music at all. That would be sad and that would be the wrong reason for your social change because it would remove the soul of the song and replace it with a political slogan.


# 8
sachin_karne
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sachin_karne
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04/09/2021 5:28 pm

I completely agree with faith, there has to be much more diversity in music lessons in GT.

I greatly miss the absence or not adequately represented acoustic guitar Blues of classical era.

We shouldn't be so naive to just close our eyes and listen or decide what music we like without understanding that certain kind of music is being offered. I understand that getting a music rights is a costly affair.

But what faith is saying has a point too.


# 9
JeffS65
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JeffS65
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04/09/2021 7:01 pm
Originally Posted by: faith83

Please don't answer that GT is just responding to "what people want" and that if I have a particular song I want included, I should request it (which is the answer I got when I emailed about this). That's the excuse that's always used to sidestep taking action on issues of social justice and equality.

[/quote]

To be honest, if Guitar Tricks had a lot more R&B material, I'd be very happy about that. I've seen Prince, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang and The Commodores amongst other R&B acts. The second song at our wedding was the E,W &F song 'September'. It one of my (and my wife's) all time favorite songs of any genre. It's an amazing song. Further, every guitar player could use a lesson on how to comp rhythms/chords from Chic's Nile Rodgers. Amazing stuff.

However, you couched your request within the sphere of social justice. From the above quote by you, you advised by being asked to request a song, that this is what's always used to sidestep taking action on issues of social justice and equality.

If I'm being direct, change comes from you and me. Change is reflected in those people we interact with and those businesses with which we do business. However, a business does not hold the same responsibility we all do as individuals. A business is a reflection of what is asked of it.

On social justice issue, I take action from a very personal level. That is to say that I have a standing monthly contribution to a rescue mission as well as a childrens after school program in a very vulnerable community. I recently built beds for kids that have been placed in group homes due to a difficult homelife. I've also spent time at a food pantry (I mean, sorting canned good but hey, that's what's needed). There's some other stuff but you get the point.

What I'm trying to say is that we are personally a reflection of that which we believe and though we can say to other people or even businesses that we expect them to act in a way that aligns with my beliefs, it's starts with my actions first.

Which leads to the stuff below.

[quote=faith83]

It's not my responsibility to diversify your song catalog, it's yours.

I'll be rather pointed in this regard; you're wrong on this point. As a consumer, you have responsibility to the very thing you've outlined in your post, taking action.

At some point recently, I noticed you added a URL to your profile under your avatar so I went to give your stuff a listen (very nice) and then poked around your site to include your Desert Island picks page...because it is interesting to find out what really musically motivates people. What I say in following sounds like a criticism but it's not.

That is to say that none of the persons within your desert picks are minorities. As a person senstive to social justice, I would assume you'd want to promote the music of minorities. Even if your desert picks would not be exactly or accurately reflected as your favorites. If equity is important, why is that not reflected in your picks? Equity is something you noted in your post and equity is really the equality of outcome. If equity is a priority, then it would be more important for you to promote a great minority artist than artists or albums that are actually your favorites. That's the point of equity, that we all end up the same.

Why this is not a criticism is that while you've set the expectation that others should be taking action, is that reflected in your own tastes? I have no doubt that you enjoy music from many genres and no doubt from people of many, many backgrounds. However, you've told Guitar Tricks to take action wherein you would not be a consumer of the music you told Guitar Tricks to publish (based on your listening preferences).

This is moreso a call to action. That we each have a responsibility to what we believe. You do have a responsibility to ask fot the very thing you ask of others, to take action. That may be as little as requesting a song. It's a very small responsibility...to be honest, much less than the sore back I got building beds from scratch with 2x4's....

I truly don't intend to make this seem like I'm bagging on you. I think you have a heart for things and intend to do well by your fellow human. However, when we start down the path of expecting others to take action, it first matters what we've done ourselves. You may well have done things similar to me with hands on help in communities. I have no idea. However, it is still important to point out that we only function best when we work in concert with one another and not in conflict.


# 10
Tinpan
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Tinpan
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04/09/2021 7:20 pm

Hey sachin if listening with your ears is naive then do tell what we should listen with. What a ridiculous debate. By all means the world needs to pick up it's game with regards to gender and race equality ( and i reckon its making ground finally) but music is totally about what makes you feel good and what your ears respond to.

I'm sure most on this site have spotify and use random to discover and listen quite a bit. There's the music exposure you require, then take what you like from there and request any songs through the request forum here. Simple and without agenda. Unless I'm missing something. Hey admin....you putting hand up to admit that you are actually misogynistic clansmen or can we have faith that you are choosing material for us based on popularity of members requests?


# 11
LynnS1951
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LynnS1951
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04/09/2021 7:54 pm

As a brand-new member, I've been impressed by the power invested in Lisa McCormick to deliver the basics and set the tone for beginners. This is very welcoming to women. Before I read this post I'd browsed instructors and noted that, yes, overwhelmingly white male. I suspect that more female customers may move things along. My tastes run to female singer-songwriters, white and black.

I went to an art college (in the '70s) that instituted affirmative action in the 1980s to make half the instructors female. I wasn't impressed with the quality of hires. You can't just push this stuff.


# 12
Tinpan
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Tinpan
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04/09/2021 8:09 pm

Ahhh interesting. Faith started with song choises being racist and sexist now we are about the actual instructor makeup. More interesting point but still doubt there's and agenda here.


# 13
snojones
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04/09/2021 8:19 pm

Nobody is talking about excluding what is here now, only including some more sources.

I mean really, no New female artists?! How can that be representitive of modern music?! Asking to have some women, represented in the line up, is not unreasonable. In fact it is over due, just like it is all over the world we live in. Faith is not suggesting that we set up mind police to dictate a distribution of required songs to learn (You can't have your Hendrix until you finish your Sanatra!). She just wants to play some songs that reflect her gender. I mean how many of you guys would like to only learn "Stand By My Man"? Is that so hard to understand?! There are also other people who are likewise excluded.... PEOPLE OF COLOR, who are directly responsable for all this guitar music we are so enthralled with. Just where did you think Rock and Roll, Jazz, and the Blues came from.... Frank Sanatra and Roy Rodgers?!

She is simply pointing out a glaring hole in the music/ materials that GT provides to it's users. For example, I am not a big country fan. I hear twangy and I start looking over my shoulder for who wants to kick my ass. It is a visseral response born of PTSD of the 60s. However, GT has extensive Country Music lessons sections included in the cirriculum. I don't feel threatened or excluded by GT teaching mearl haggard, but I clearly see that GT needs to start including women and artists of color. Otherwise they are excluding more than half the worlds population. I REPEAT...MORE THAN HALF THE POPULATION!

I have no doubt that here are a lot of women and people of color who want to learn the guitar. Just look at the growing number of women who are currently signed up to GT. They all want what you all want... which is to learn to play music they can realate to. You can't really claim to be spreading the humanities, while excluding large sections of Humanity from the cirriculum. Sounds a lot like, what is good for Jim Crow, is good for JANE CROW thinking! Not Jimi Hendrix calling the to world "I am going to let my freak flag fly.....!"

I say everybody will benifit if we all can find ways to "Let our freek flags fly!!!!


Captcha is a total pain in the........

# 14
LynnS1951
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LynnS1951
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04/09/2021 8:25 pm

Animation studios are notoriously macho. It's not a plot. I'm old and in my life I've known way more men who play or try to play guitar than women. I'm a weaver. There are a few male weavers. You wouldn't see a man on a weaving site complaining half the artists profiled should be male!


# 15
Tinpan
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Tinpan
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04/09/2021 9:05 pm

Perfect point Lynn. Sno... this site ain't about exposing us to all music... you can get that in a million other places. This is a service based on what paying members request. The only answer would be to actually let us have access to what is requested by number of requests and see if they are only picking white males from the list. Like to think not. Suspect Lynn's point is spot on. Dig a little and you'll find plenty of songs here from all races and even a few written by women anyway. And if it doesn't suit what your ears prefer then vote with your wallet and try YouTube or another guitar site. Not sure if there are any that are political and musical but couldn't hurt to shop around.


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john of MT
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04/09/2021 11:55 pm

There is some very good writing above with well made points. I am impressed with the heartfelt perspectives and sympathize with the concerns expressed. So... please don't regard this post as a change of subject or a hijack of the thread but...

sop - a thing given or done as a concession of no great value to appease someone whose main concerns or demands are not being met.

When there is talk of or a suggestion to make a song request I believe it is a sop.

Below is my post from January this year. It is post #5 from the thread "Song lesson requests?", Open Discussion sub-forum. I've added the bold emphasis for this post.

Song lesson requests? #5 01/21/2021 -------------------------------------------

There use to be a Song Request sub-forum with hundreds if not thousands of posts. That was removed a year or two ago and, as far as I can tell, those posts by the many GT members are no longer accessible, even to the members who wrote them.

Other than the odious wholescale removal of members' posts it makes little difference... of the hundreds of requests by members, none were honored. At least, none that I tracked which covered about the last three years before the removal of the request sub-forum.

While one can do a search, e.g., "song requests", and the posts will be listed under "Song Lesson Requests" forum the posts themselves cannot be reviewed. Click on the search results and it takes one to the song request form. Posts using that form are also blocked from GT members.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'd like to think there have been requests that were turned into song lessons but, now approaching twelve years as a GT member, I don't know of any. I'd have to find/check my notes but I believe I tracked over a hundred requests that never resulted in a lesson. Of course, requests are now hidden from GT member's view so it's possible there have been lessons since that block was instituted but, I for one, am very skeptical.

My point: make your requests for songs. If it's what you want, make requests for songs representing a wider range of race/ethnicity, gender or genre. Just keep your expectations for a request response low. Very low.


"It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to. I haven't found any shortcuts, and I've been looking for a long time."
-- Chet Atkins
# 17
moosehockey18
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04/10/2021 12:08 am
Originally Posted by: john of MT

There is some very good writing above with well made points. I am impressed with the heartfelt perspectives and sympathize with the concerns expressed. So... please don't regard this post as a change of subject or a hijack of the thread but...

sop - a thing given or done as a concession of no great value to appease someone whose main concerns or demands are not being met.

When there is talk of or a suggestion to make a song request I believe it is a sop.

Below is my post from January this year. It is post #5 from the thread "Song lesson requests?", Open Discussion sub-forum. I've added the bold emphasis for this post.

Song lesson requests? #5 01/21/2021 -------------------------------------------

There use to be a Song Request sub-forum with hundreds if not thousands of posts. That was removed a year or two ago and, as far as I can tell, those posts by the many GT members are no longer accessible, even to the members who wrote them.

Other than the odious wholescale removal of members' posts it makes little difference... of the hundreds of requests by members, none were honored. At least, none that I tracked which covered about the last three years before the removal of the request sub-forum.

While one can do a search, e.g., "song requests", and the posts will be listed under "Song Lesson Requests" forum the posts themselves cannot be reviewed. Click on the search results and it takes one to the song request form. Posts using that form are also blocked from GT members.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'd like to think there have been requests that were turned into song lessons but, now approaching twelve years as a GT member, I don't know of any. I'd have to find/check my notes but I believe I tracked over a hundred requests that never resulted in a lesson. Of course, requests are now hidden from GT member's view so it's possible there have been lessons since that block was instituted but, I for one, am very skeptical.

My point: make your requests for songs. If it's what you want, make requests for songs representing a wider range of race/ethnicity, gender or genre. Just keep your expectations for a request response low. Very low.

Hmmmmmmm.... Now that does change things a bit. I`ve never gone through the song request process myself as my main focus here is the core curriculum. Maybe someone from GT can shed some light on this. Maybe if anything needs to change it`s the song request process. Maybe more transparency and clarification on how this process really works is needed ? What say you....... GT ?


# 18
Tinpan
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Tinpan
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04/10/2021 12:19 am

Very interesting and hope not the case otherwise what would be the point in having song request option. I assumed would be simple process of highest number requested...can we get the license...nope....move to next most requested. Is that the case admin, or is it more what the teachers want to teach?


# 19
deanbadam
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04/10/2021 5:57 am
Originally Posted by: Tinpan

.... if it doesn't suit what your ears prefer then vote with your wallet and try YouTube or another guitar site. Not sure if there are any that are political and musical but couldn't hurt to shop around.

Tinpan - a site that predomantly hosts and provides tutorials for songs played by men and/or white men is political. The only people who can ignore color and gender are white men. Like others have said, there was never a suggestion to take the choices away from the likely older men and their crusty ways, just to provide more considered diversity.

Diversifying offerings - both song lessons and tutors appeals to a wider audience. This isn't rocket science and is what a lot of companies are realising.

This isn't PC, but if nothing else its good business sense as most of the stale, male and pale (of which I'm one) are going to die off in time and if that's the only market the site has managed to appeal to then the writing is on the wall.


# 20

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