Fender, the iconic electric guitar maker, getting into the software business. I'm Stephen Nellis, here at Haight Ashbury Music Center, in San Francisco, to tell you about Fender Play. Which is a new online software system that the iconic electric guitar maker who's powered the careers of folks like Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, has just come out with.
So the electric guitar industry is kind of stagnant, moving along very slowly after the recession. Fender, wanting to sell more guitars, has come up with a new idea. They've noticed that about half of their guitars go to first time players, but 90% of those players actually give up the instrument within the first year.
So they've come up with an online learning system to help teach students everything from how to hold the guitar, to how to play popular songs that aren't necessarily associated with the guitar like John Legend's All Of Me. The point is to try to turn those players into repeat customers.
Fender is also trying to respond to trends that it's seeing in the market. The company says that about half of the people buying its guitars for the first time are women. Many of them are buying online, and they're going to sites like YouTube in order to get lessons.
The reason is that traditional music store settings can be kind of intimidating. There's a lot of words you don't know, there's a lot of gear that you don't understand just yet. So the company is trying to reach out to them with lesson that don't assume you have any prior knowledge of the guitar and start off with things as simple as how to hold them.
The idea is that once students get pass that point, then they'll move on to buying electric guitars and on multiple ones over the course of their playing career. Despite what you might have heard about the death of the electric guitar because the instrument doesn't features heavily in popular music as it used to, sales of guitars, overall, have held steady at about 2.4 million units every year for the past five years.
So Fender, the company that made its mark in the original Rock and Roll era of Buddy Holly is trying to make its mark again in the age of the iPhone.