Pandemic Tunes Sale of musical instruments

A pandemic-fueled surge in people wanting to learn to play the guitar and piano has given the nation’s largest musical instrument retailer a second chance as investors and creditors sign a plan which will allow 500 Guitar Center stores to emerge from bankruptcy.

Announcing the plan, which more than halves its $1.3 billion debt, Guitar Center CEO Ron Japinga called the proposal “an important and positive step” that will “enhance our ability to reinvest in our business to support long-term growth. ”

Guitar Center said it hopes to complete the Chapter 11 reorganization by the end of the year and will continue to pay employees and vendors in full during the critical holiday shopping season. It’s also worth noting that Guitar Center saw an 85% increase in sales in August as consumers sought solace in music to fill the time in their increasingly home-based lifestyles.

Forget life for a while

Although Guitar Center’s huge debt and bankruptcy might have placed it among a group of chain stores that have succumbed to the “retail apocalypse” caused by the coronavirus and other factors, it is also particularly well placed to capitalize on a craze that is leading a record number of future musicians to learn to play the instrument of their dreams.

For example, the CEO of iconic Fender Guitars said his company went from furloughs, pay cuts and “searching the abyss” to record sales, in the span of a few months. “We sell more guitars than we know what to do with,” said Tom Sumner, president and CEO of Yamaha Corp. of America, noting that his company also sold five to six digital keyboards in two months during the pandemic.

The trend can also be observed outside the walls of traditional traders and manufacturers. Unsurprisingly, Reverb, the largest online musical instrument marketplace, said it has seen a significant increase in sales in the era of the pandemic. According to the company’s Nov. 2 press release, increased consumer preference for shopping online, along with traditional efforts such as increased marketing, also helped drive results.

“This year has brought many challenges for the musical instrument industry, but online sales have been a bright spot, with continued demand and growth,” said David Mandelbrot, CEO of Reverb.

Reverb also noted substantial double- and in some cases- triple-digit increases last quarter in searches for items such as ukuleles, microphones and guitars. It’s a trend that has been welcomed by small business owners who publish their instrument inventory on Reverb’s platform.

“The world is weird right now,” said Reverb poster Frank Gross of Thunder Road Guitars. “As people become more comfortable with shopping for musical instruments online, our Reverb store is helping us put our inventory in front of a wider community of musicians. We feel very fortunate.

This newfound passion for music and the arts is also being noticed outside of the United States, where reports have also shown solid increases overseas. Sales of pianos and guitars in the UK increased by 80% in the second quarter and confined consumers were also listening to more and more music – and dancing to it, at least in terms of digital streaming and demand for lessons ballet.

With concerts and live performances roughly suspended for the past eight months, the DIY music craze is also seeing a surge in downloads of music-editing apps, such as Apple’s GarageBand, which has Rolling Stone magazine wondering if the deadly pandemic could just inadvertently usher in a new era of rebirth.

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