In the past few decades, there has been a dramatic change in the way people listen to music. When you think of popular music, you might think of MP3 players, online streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, or CDs. But what about guitars? With more people listening to electronic dance music than ever before and fewer people buying musical instruments every year, is guitar losing popularity? Let’s take a look at why this may be the case.
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Why the Guitar is Considered a Dying Instrument
Many people think the guitar is a dying instrument because it is less used in some music genres. For example, Hip Hop is Spotify’s most listened to genre and pop is radio’s number one music genre. In these two music genres, none primarily uses guitars as the instrument of choice. While their compositions may definitely feature six strings, guitars play a small role and are just one of the many instruments used in making pop or rap music. In addition, guitar solos are also extremely rare. Rap usually relies on drum machines, samplers, and turntables, whereas pop uses synthesizers and guitars play an insignificant role.
Another thing that may have fueled the misplaced talk about the “slow and painful” death of the guitar is the unkind headlines circulating in recent years about the electric guitar! Electric guitar sales have been on an increasing downward trend from year to year. By around September 2019, electric guitar sales had reduced significantly from approximately 1.5 million sold annually to a little more than 1 million, leaving renowned brands like Fender and Gibson bankrupt. The Guardian dubbed the events the “End of the Guitar,” while Marketwatch, a renowned business news site, described it as “people falling out of love with the historic guitars.”
However, the perception is actually untrue! Guitar sales have been on the rise. Research from IBISWorld, has shown that guitar manufacturing has been increasing steadily for about five years now. Manufacturing and sales during the pandemic particularly soared! Many people used the guitar as their companion to help them beat loneliness. So, during the Coronavirus pandemic, companies like Taylor, Martin, Gibson, and Fender saw an increase in sales.
The Guitar Is Not Dying Anytime Soon Because It Is More Accessible Than Ever!
One reason that can be attributed to the guitar’s projected long-term survival is that it is easy to get started on playing guitar. Also, with guitars now available in online stores, buying guitars has become easier. You do not have to go store to store. You only need to search the wide varieties on Amazon and other stores to buy one.
Additionally, platforms like YouTube and Google have made it easier to access video tutorials/lessons, guitar tabs, video game tabs, video game guitars, etc., that allow people to learn how to play. Numerous tips and video game guitar covers can further help people hone their playing skills.
Statistics Actually Show Its Popularity Has Been Soaring!
A good example of just how the popularity of guitars has been increasing, can be seen in the story of a guitar instructor in Los Angeles, called Jensen Trani! In his YouTube channel, he gives guitar tutorial videos and he has garnered approximately 75 million views during the last 14 years! This is an astonishing feat if you consider the misplaced discussions about the death of the guitar!
Mr. Trani, also an instructor of Fender Play (Fender’s guitar-instruction app), further adds that apart from the massive surge in traffic for his YouTube videos, he has also been getting more students enrolling in private lessons even remotely! Other renowned instructional sites like GuitarTricks and JustinGuitar.com have also witnessed a growing clientele. Fender Play experienced a mind-boggling spike from just 150,000 to about 930,000 clients from around late March to late June 2020. The spike in numbers was hugely attributed to the effectiveness of a three-month promotional giveaway.
In terms of the demographics, about 20 percent of the newcomers were below the age of 24, while 70 percent were below 45. A close look into the gender shows that female users constituted about 45 percent of the new clientele, up from just 30 percent before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Perhaps the simplest explanation for the surging numbers during Covid-19 was that many people suddenly had plenty of time on their hands. With the restriction of movement, a huge population was home. Those still working did so remotely via the work-from-home programs. Therefore, playing guitar was one of the activities that many people relied on to retain sanity and help them cope.
The Guitar Center was another online retailer that witnessed incredible numbers from spring 2020 to summer. Despite losing 293 of its 296 retail showrooms between March and April due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it witnessed an astonishing triple-digit sales growth for many of the top guitar brands it sold on its website. Like most other brands during the time, Guitar Center capitalized on the growing number of shoppers who were shopping from online stores like Amazon. Online shopping and tutorials was where new guitar players interacted with their new favorite musical instrument.
So, is guitar losing popularity? This question has a varied and complicated answer. Certainly, in the mainstream music world, guitar-driven genres like rock and blues are on the decline. However, online sales of guitars have been increasing in recent years, especially during the pandemic of 2020, when people were restricted from movement and had to stay in their houses. With no-where to go, people had more time to learn new things, including music instruments. In addition, the global electric guitars market is expected to reach $5.1 billion by 2027, which indicates that there is still a large population of people who are interested in learning how to play guitar. The guitar industry will continue to grow because of access to tutorials, lessons, and resources like our blog. If you’re learning to play guitar, we invite you to check out our free guitar tabs!