In a year that has seen the music industry lose an estimated $7 billion, guitar sales have skyrocketed. Fender, Gibson, Taylor and Martin have all seen an increase in revenue over the past few months, since the COVID-19 pandemic first began.
The guitar industry had been in a steady decline since 2007, with the instrument only selling one third of what it had been in the past. A Washington Post article supported by Paul McCartney in 2017 described the “slow death of the electric guitar” with Eric Clapton saying in the same year, “maybe the guitar is over.” Gibson had declared bankruptcy in 2018. Now, 2020 will give Fender their most sales in a single year throughout the company’s history. Other guitar companies have also seen a skyrocket in sales.
“I never would have thought we would be where we are today if you asked me back in March,” Fender’s chief executive, Andy Mooney, said to The New York Times.
With the majority of the world in varying stages of lockdown, more people have had time to pick up the instrument. According to The New York Times, guitar instructors have seen an increase in views for tutorial videos, and have gained more requests for private lessons. Fender’s instruction app also saw an increase, with their user base shooting from 150,000 to 930,000 in just three months. 20 percent of the guitar newcomers have been under 24, while 70 percent have been under 45. Women account for 45 percent of the newcomers.
Many factories had closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the guitar industry initially felt that they, too, would be unable to survive the pandemic due to a shut-down in production. The guitar industry’s first quarter reporting had seen sales at 40 percent below normal. However, the rise in guitar sales has allowed the industry to bounce back in an unprecedented way, and Guitar Center has reported triple-digit growth. The instruments get sold almost as soon as they’re made available.
“I’ve been in the instrument retail business for 25-plus years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” a senior salesman at the guitar retailer Sweetwater, Brendan Murphey, said to The New York Times. “It feels like every day is Black Friday.”
The sale of guitars shows how certain aspects of the music industry are able to thrive during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This year has seen a 98 percent drop in sales for Live Nation, forcing the company to cut staff in order to save money. Much of the music industry has seen record lows, a complete contrast to Fender’s record highs.