With much of the world staying at home to help with the fight against COVID-19, many musicians and beginners are making the most of their free time by improving their chops, picking up a new instrument for the first time, or just giving their gear some love and affection. Music stores who are able to trade online are helping to provide instruments, accessories and much needed retail therapy to those isolating.
In fact, we’re seeing a rise in sales for many instrument retailers and music software companies – perhaps we’re facing a new wave of creativity come out of this crisis?
What’s everyone buying?
Reverb.com, the online gear marketplace, is having a very successful period with searches for music gear up 50% on last year and an increase in acoustic guitar, synthesiser, keyboard, and pro audio orders.
Reverb.com’s Jim Tuerk explains: “We are seeing extraordinarily high order volumes, outpacing even the amount of orders we see during the busy holiday season. Several of the music shops that sell gear on Reverb have even told us that March was one of their best months ever”
Reverb.com are also seeing a surge in views on their YouTube channel which concentrates on gear and buying guides.
American mega-music-store Guitar Center has seen areas of their online sales more than double following Coronavirus isolation measures being put in place. CEO Chuck Surack announced that the entire acoustic guitar category is selling well as are ukuleles and online lessons.
“As students have been mandated to stay indoors, many of our students are now taking more than one lesson per week. Also, for those currently participating in lessons, weekly attendance has increased as well. For kids who normally have band classes in school, online lessons is allowing them to keep up and expand their skills with their instrument.”
Likewise, Roland’s online product training sessions have exceeded capacity causing them to add more courses to meet demand.
Dusting off that old axe
As well as buying new instruments many musicians are finding the time to restring, setup, or repair their existing instruments. With instrument owners having spare time on their hands, guitars and basses all over the world are seeing more love than usual.
“Someone who’s bought a bunch of guitar stuff is buying new tuners, new strings, polish for the neck, and a whole bunch of other things,” says Reverb.com’s Jim Tuerk. “You can just tell that they’re taking the time to take their guitar apart, upgrade it, hot rod it, and make it new again. It’s been fun to watch that stuff as I physically pack the boxes [in our warehouse] myself.”
Jim continues, “I can also tell that people are upgrading their studios. “They’re buying a whole set of drum heads to replace every one on their kit. As creative consumers continue to stay home, they’re investing in gear for their home-rigs and studios — mics, speakers, audio interfaces, music-making software, and more. Searches for audio interfaces are up 303% year-over-year.”
As well as improving their instrument skills, isolators want to record their progress, capture creativity, and share their music with the world. This has seen a massive spike in music creation software with Apple seeing record levels of interest in Garageband and 13 million downloads from its add-on Sound Library since the start of February. Other music software from Roland, Apogee, and Splice has seen record downloads too.
Reverb.com says that it has seen a rise in professional audio orders among guitarists and drummers who are likely buying their first interface and microphones:
“This could indicate that they’re experimenting or that they’re trying to collaborate with other musicians virtually. As creative consumers continue to stay home, they’re investing in gear for their home-rigs and studios — mics, speakers, audio interfaces, music-making software, and more. Searches for audio interfaces are up 303% year-over-year.”
Musicians are also making use of social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube for the first time in way of interacting with friends and the wider online community. Check out our article on recording yourself for Instagram for some top tips. Even major acts such as the Rolling Stones took to the internet for a performance earlier this month.
A time to learn
With advances in video conference software such as Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and WhatsApp, it’s never been easier for teachers and students to come together. While interactive apps such as Fender Play are seeing record numbers of downloads we are delighted to see and hear from so many local teachers who are offering their years of experience to players across the world.
Nothing beats face-to-face lessons with a real teacher and it’s fantastic to see so many Rotosound players offering lessons over video chat.
Getting productive while protecting
Only time will tell whether the Corona Crisis will produce a new generation of musical creatives but it may serve to remind us how important it is to spend time with our instruments and show them some care. We may come out of this with new and improved music skills, an upgraded or brand new instrument, or at the very least a fresh set of strings.
We hope that this trend will continue well past lockdown with stores seeing more new customers looking for a creative solution to the negative effects of the isolation measures and everyone choosing to spend more time with making music.