This has been a crazy year worldwide, for everyone. Numerous lockdowns, curfews, and mandates have changed the way we socialize and live on a fundamental level. But apparently, it is also a great time to learn guitar!
Fender Guitar Sales In 2020: It’s Been a Challenge…
Since the first lockdowns in March, until the present here at the end of the year, it’s easy to see lots of people are playing guitar. On a personal level, I have probably played more this year than I have in almost a decade. I have talked about guitar being a perfect cure for boredom before, and I stand by that statement.
During this whole year, I have watched online guitar vendors and their stock dwindle. It has been a big point of conversation between my friends and me. Having often said: “I bet people are picking up guitar for the first time, or for the first time in a long time.
Turns out, I was very right!
Fender Guitar sales plummeted at the beginning of the year. Once shutdowns began nationally, Fender’s factories in Corona, California, and Ensenada, Mexico, shut down, furloughing hundreds of employees. Its headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, shuttered, as did its Hollywood hub, where CEO Andy Mooney and his management team work:
“We were looking over the edge of an abyss, frankly, and went into company preservation mode,” Mooney Said from his Los Angeles home office. His fear continued as he, and other high-ranking officials took a 50% pay cut.
“We just tightened our belt.” Mooney expressed over the Summer.
In a strange twist of fate, Fender Guitar Sales started seeing an upward trend. Their third-quarter report showed a 17% gain over last year’s sales. Fender Guitar sales is looking at over 700 Million dollars projected. This is compared to last year’s 600 million total.
“We are anticipating 2021 being another record year,” he predicted, “no matter how the pandemic plays out.”
That’s a pretty bold statement, but considering the numbers, Mooney may be right!
More People Are Playing Now, More Than Ever
This pandemic has been devastating for so many different reasons. But at the same time, I feel like people have gravitated towards music and art. It seems that more people, having free time, have found that maybe they have a hidden talent. Once Fender saw the uptick in buying patterns, they moved on to other platforms.
The Fender Play program is an online video community for learning guitar and bass. This is usually a paid program. Fender guitar sales soared, so they gave deep discounts on Fender Play subscriptions. Enticing newcomers and veterans alike. The online course was even offered to be free for the first 100,000 people that signed up.
They quickly bypassed that number, reaching nearly a million new subscribers by July. Stats show that 95% of the people that signed up were under the age of 45, with half of that number being female.
“I never would have possibly predicted that,” Mooney said, noting that the same offer has been extended to the end of this year.
While many dealers and shops closed across the world, Fender never shut down their distribution. You could easily buy direct from Fender via their website, or from one of their many distributors world-wide.
“Our distribution centers, owned by third parties, never closed, even as dealers’ did,” Mooney explained. “We shipped product directly to consumers on their behalf.”
Besides its own e-commerce operation, a program put front an center since Mooney was hired in 2014, Fender Guitar sales come from online through pure-play instrument e-tailers such as Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Sweetwater.
Not mention the giant Thomann, headquartered in Germany, as well as more pedestrian retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target. While the shops and stores may close, the internet never closes.
Fender Had A Head Start…
While beginner instruments have seen a huge uptick in sales over the past 8 months, Fender had something that many other companies do not; a name brand.
It’s no surprise that Fender Guitar sales have been through the roof. The company is a “legacy” brand that people know and trust. people who have never held a guitar before recognize the shape and appearance of a Fender Stratocaster. The brand is iconic.
I’m happy not only to see that guitar companies are doing pretty well (others are as well as Fender) but I am just as excited to see so many new players and enthusiasts come into the fold. The next few years could be pretty interesting in the world of guitar playing!
Christoper HortonChristopher has been playing guitar and piano for 27 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. He has toured for years with several bands and music projects. He worked in LA as a studio musician and engineer working with bands like IAMSOUND, Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk, Reflux, and Tripping Daisy. In between giving private lessons, he is recording a solo album for 2022-2023. Christopher plays Schecter guitars, BOSS amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.
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