I've read with interest the promotion for The Golden Ear Club.
As it now reads, it would seem that TGEC will be an organization (in part) that circumvents the traditional retail path of a component and service, providing direct access between the consumer and the manufacturer. While there are plenty of companies that do business direct (nothing wrong with that) - most the companies you've listed so far as participating manufacturers maintain bricks-and-mortar dealership relationships, and these dealers may see the program as an encroachment.
Allow me to explain: Often times B-Stock and Close Out products are offered to dealers at an accelerated discount. This helps the manufacturer clear inventory while giving the dealer an opportunity to offer a great price on a component of value. Also - by offering "hot rod" versions of products, review units, et al to consumers - the dealer (who, by far, has shoulder the most risk in this equation) is not only being circumvented, but a consumer who may have been the dealer's customer is no longer shopping for Hi Fi. The ecosystem we rely upon has a significant player removed from the board.
And the issue seems two-fold:
1) The dealer, who - like Atlas - rests the burden of the industry on his shoulders, is denied the opportunity to serve the customer.
2) The customer - upon having a problem with his product - cannot reasonably ask or expect the dealer of that brand for help.
While I applaud the idea of special TAS events, access to Editors, review previews and quarterly updates - creating a commercial bazaar for product (B-Tock, Hot Rod, or otherwise) seems to me as if it might be crushing the toes of the retailers who maintain the health of our industry by representing and demonstrating good products, and by servicing the needs of their local clients.
Your TGEC page cites the support of dealers, so perhaps I'm off base in my assessment of the idea. As well, it may be too early to tell given that you've only laid out a general overview of the program.
Which leaves me curious to know what sorts of conversations evolved as the merits and pitfalls of TGEC were being presented - not only amongst the editorial staff, but with your manufacturer, distributor, and dealer partners. Any insight into these sorts of discussions would be appreciated (and educational).