Guitar World Publisher Announces End of “Swimsuit Edition” Gear Guides

Bikini models in guitar buyers’ guides are soon to be a thing of the past.

NewBay Media LLC, publisher of Guitar Player, Guitar World, Guitar Aficionado, Revolver and other music publications, this year will combine the annual guides from Guitar Player and Guitar World magazines into a single product, drop the models and create a new online version, according to Bill Amstutz, VP and general manager of the music group at NewBay in an exclusive interview with Reverb News.

Amstutz describes the decision to drop the bikini models as part of a larger set of decisions related to the launch of the new combined buyers’ guide and its online companion.

“We knew we were making a change and thought now was the time to stop with the models as well,” Amstutz said. “The main driver of this decision was economic, but bikini models were outdated, and we didn’t want to associate the brand with what could easily be viewed as sexist, as a misrepresentation of women guitar players, or that women in general may find offensive. The number of women players is growing and we want to support them.”

We didn’t want to associate the brand with what could easily be viewed as sexist, as a misrepresentation of women guitar players, or that women in general may find offensive."

New Bay purchased Guitar World, Guitar Aficionado and Revolver from UK publisher Future PLC in 2012, and Amstutz has run the music group since that time.

“The Guitar World buyers’ guide has been published for many years, long before my tenure, with bikini models showing off the guitars and gear,” Amstutz said. “That was a successful and popular model with our advertisers and audience and we actually had a number of manufacturers that wanted their gear photographed with the models. At the same time, we received feedback that wasn’t necessarily good.”

There were legitimate concerns that the guide was sexist, Amstutz said, and some retailers had complained about the guide and refused to stock it, adding that they didn’t want their employees to have to look at it.

We want to reach female readers and cultivate them. And we can do a better job, as all guitar media can do."

“We’ve been dealing with this for the past couple years,” Amstutz said. We want to reach female readers and cultivate them. And we can do a better job, as all guitar media can do. It’s a bit of a boys’ club and we are taking steps this year to change that. This is part of that, as is making a concerted effort to create content that attracts women.”

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Amstutz said that his group is exploring how to create content that appeals to its entire audience, male and female alike. “There’s no need to segregate. We want to feature players and points of view from all genders,” Amstutz said. “That’s going to be influencing our content strategy going forward on all of our brands.”


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