An interview with Andy Mooney


MIA’s own Paul McManus talks to the Fender CEO about growing the market…

I recently read a great interview with Andy in the US Music Trades magazine about his thinking on the market in relation to women and guitars. I has also heard him talk at the NAMM Show the previous year about retention of new players and was keen to share ideas about these important themes.

We started by talking about why certain sectors of our industry (i.e. playing rock instruments) appear not to appeal to females.

Here is the killer statistic………….Fender have data showing that female guitar purchasers comprise nearly 50% of the total. This figure came from research they conducted in the US in 2016.

What was also apparent was that females were far more likely to buy online in many cases instead of using a bricks and mortar shop. Indeed one leading retailer shared with Andy that 60% of the people using their teaching services were women but that only 6% of their in-store purchasers were female.

This led on to our second theme exploring the (just maybe) our male-dominated industry can often act as a sales prevention to the female species? We have certainly made strides over recent years in employing more women on the sales floor and the “macho” imagery of the point of sales material may have reduced (a bit), but we agreed we have a long way to go to make our shop environments (especially the rock ones) truly female welcoming and friendly.

We naturally also discussed the actual instruments that women gravitate towards. This does not automatically mean “flowers and pastel colours” (anything but in most cases!), but more the sorts of designs that are a sensible weight and slimmer neck girth….Fender Mustang, Duo-Sonic and Telecaster as examples! Fender have no plans to offer “women specific” guitars (quite right) and instead want to adopt the Mooney philosophy that he used at Nike and Disney of giving people what THEY want.

We discussed the trend towards lighter weight amps and cabinets may also have some unintended positive consequences in this area as well?

We also talked of the growing importance of shops offering the “total package” of instruments, lessons, real links to the music community including performance venues etc. in order to truly offer a “one–stop shop” to create AND sustain the new musician.

When you look at the Fender statistic showing that 90% of people give up learning after only 90 days, there is a HUGE case to better support the new musician instead of simply selling them the instrument and then leaving them to their own devices?

As Andy has previously stated….”If we could only stop 10% of those people giving up on playing, we could have a huge positive effect on the total number of musicians”……especially when you consider that 45% of all guitar sales relate to first-time players!

Fender is in the process of delivering all-new digital products that will include lessons and guidance to try and respond to the challenge above, and players should be on the look-out when it’s ready!

So, a great chat with the man and some great sharing of ideas. If we can keep them playing (male and female!), we could truly grow the industry for us all to benefit from?