Fender is unveiling a new way for guitarists to learn the music that inspired them to pick up the instrument.
The guitar company’s latest digital innovation, Fender Songs, is designed to help guitarists dramatically expand their song repertoire, supercharge their practice time and deepen their enjoyment of playing music.
After over 70 years of manufacturing some of music’s most iconic instruments, Fender launched its Fender Play app in 2017 to cater to beginners, helping new players nail down the basics during those frustrating early stages of learning guitar.
Fender Songs is the next step, designed to support guitar players as they get better, making song learning easier and more straightforward than it’s ever been.
Fender CEO Andy Mooney explained during a product demonstration Thursday, October 17, that the app is a best friend to any guitarist looking to learn more music, quickly.
“I can play 150 songs [on the guitar], but it took me 50 years,” he noted during a presentation in New York. “Any subscriber to Fender Songs can start on Day 1 with 750,000 songs that they can learn.”
In collaboration with Apple, Fender developed its new app's ability to generate a song’s chords, lyrics, tempo and time signature in just seconds. The app makes it easy for players to slow down a song and learn it part by part. Users can also record themselves, playing along with backing tracks within the app.
Users can browse Fender Songs, sorting by artist, genre or curated lists. Furthermore, Fender has a team of musicians maintaining the app, editing and fine-tuning song arrangements that are generated by the algorithm.
"We teach them how to play with Fender Play, and now we're going to teach them how to fly with Fender Songs," said Fender Digital General Manager Ethan Kaplan. "If you point [Fender Songs] at 50 million songs, you get 50 million songs of chords...it's the world's biggest repository of guitar song data."
Users can sign up for a 7-day free trial. After that the app costs $4.99 a month ($41.99 for a 12-month subscription) and comes with an additional 10 percent off gear at Fender.com and participating retailers.
The company says its expansion into the digital space is in response to a sharp increase in use of the guitar as a means of expression by 21st century artists. Fender says it wants to be there to meet demand of new players every step of the way.
Sales of new guitars are at a 10-year high, and the guitar industry is the single the fastest growing segment in the music industry, the company reports.
Fender Chief Marketing Officer Evan Jones told Q104.3 New York's QN'A that while pop music might not boast as many guitar heroes as it did 30 years ago, the guitar is actually being used more often across more genres than ever in history.
"The number of guitars on stage and in the studio has gone up, because guitars are now used on everything from alt, to pop, to hip hop, country, Americana, you name it," Jones said.
Consequently, the beginner market for the guitar has never been more robust. Around 45 percent of guitars bought in 2018 were by first-time buyers; 50 percent of those beginners were female players, according to Fender data.
But despite the industry's growth, 90 percent of neophyte guitarists give up in the first year of playing. Beginners also spend four times more money on lessons than they do on gear. These aren't new phenomenons, but Fender believes it can change the retention rate by dragging the guitar segment further into the modern age.
Fender Play and now Fender Songs, are part of an effort to help players stick with music and the guitar, thereby expanding the market and the possibilities.
Jones says artists are more intrigued than ever at the possibilities that come with the guitar. Fender's mission has always been to foster those innovations.
“I just think that if you’re willing to let artists lead you, growth is possible," he said. "Ten years ago, we might have been a little more defiant about different forms of music. Now we’re inviting it."
Images courtesy of Fender