Responses

  1. koyokim

    As a professional instrumentalist myself, I find this article interesting and extremely relevant not only to the electric guitar market, but to the culture surrounding live music as a whole with respect to changing trends. You (in direct response to Edger) effectively address the three-dimensional nature of the problem; the multiple and sometimes obscure factors causing guitar sales to plummet make the solution not an easy or obvious one. It is difficult to pinpoint the basis for the shift in mindset, which is characterized by the youth’s diminishing interest in the guitar legends whom were idolized in their prime. According to digital and physical sales, rock is still the most popular genre in America, with classic rock topping the charts in 11 states. Indie, which is also heavily guitar-based, is the third most popular. It is clear that people still value the actual music. With the increased availability of music due to streaming services, more people than ever are listening. As a nation that also values health, we are aware of the benefits in well-being, both of playing and listening to music. Your story about Julie Martin and her son Matt finding confidence through the guitar is a powerful example. So where is the real problem? We must look at declining guitar sales in a wide cultural context, taking technological trends into account.

    When cultivating the next generation of guitar heroes, it may be beneficial to view the solution in a more modern context. I noticed that several of the interviewees in the article refer to a generation of guitar players from the 60s and 70s—a golden age that they seem to have a shared nostalgia for but is not necessarily relevant to the times. You do address marketing as the main source of popularity, where guitar sales are dependent on the changing tide of the music industry and the demands of millennials. The fact that Taylor Swift, with her widely promoted image and branding, is inspiring young women to take up guitar is a prime example of the power of current billboard status. Therefore I believe the real problem is not that the nation’s youth is not attracted to the guitar, but is not being given enough opportunity to see it in action.

    To revitalize the value for live musicians, I would like to see more development and promotion of underground guitarists that are appealing to today’s youth— John Frusciante, Tosin Abasi, and even in genres other than rock, such as R&B’s Keith Askey. As a Los Angeles resident, I have witnessed incredible young guitar prowess at underground jam sessions such as Jammcard’s Jammjam and The Viper Room’s Sunset Jam. It is apparent that guitar virtuosi still exist, but we cannot see them. Visual media is key. With all the reality shows aired on MTV, it is hard to believe the network stands for Music Television. However we now do not even need television when nowadays the tools at our fingertips. To take advantage of technological trends, bands, promoters, managers, and anyone interested in revitalizing live music should create a platform to stream concerts, jams, and sessions. This would be a modern take on something like Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, which you mentioned was an inspirational source for the previous generation. Direct delivery into people’s smartphones and tablets fits the nation’s emphasis on convenience. Whether this is creating a new video portion of music streaming services, creating a new Netflix series, or simply utilizing Facebook and Instagram live tools more often, harnessing popular technologies will increase visibility to the youth. This way, everyone can contribute in perpetuating a culture that values live music, and we may yet find the next generation of guitar heroes.