- Guitar maker Fender this week introduced a subscription app to help people learn their favorite songs and keep them playing for years after buying their first musical instrument. The Fender Songs app uses machine learning to analyze a select group of songs streamed on Apple Music and create chord fingerings for guitar, piano and ukulele, per a live demonstration Mobile Marketer saw.
- The app costs $4.99 a month, or $41.99 a year, after a seven-day free trial, and offers 10% off guitars, amplifiers and gear from Fender.com and participating retailers. Fender Songs aims to support 300,000 to 500,000 songs within the next couple of years, CMO Evan Jones told Mobile Marketer in an interview.
- Fenders Songs is the fourth app created by the guitar brand, and the second one to charge a subscription after the 2017 launch of Fender Play, a guitar lesson app with about 110,000 subscribers. The company also publishes Fender Tune, a guitar tuning app, and Fender Tone, which controls effects on two models of amplifiers. The company estimates sales will exceed $600 million this year, 9% of which will go toward marketing, Reuters reported. Fender Songs is only available for Apple iPhones and the iPod touch.
Fender Songs is the instrument maker's latest effort to boost customer lifetime value (CLV) while cutting the first-year abandonment rate of 90% for guitar lessons, as most people lose interest in endless hours of practicing. Fender estimates that customers who commit to playing will spend an average of $10,000 on guitars and equipment throughout their lives, Jones told Mobile Marketer.
"If we can get another 10% of first-time guitar buyers to keep playing after that first year, we could add $1 billion in revenue to the industry," he said. Jones joined Fender in 2015 as the company's first CMO after working at New Era Cap, Nike, DC Shoes and Activision.
Fender Songs is part of the company's shift to a customer-relationship management (CRM) model while de-emphasizing its past focus on storytelling, Jones said. The 73-year-old company is steeped in musical lore, making guitars that have been played by musicians such as Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jack White. Guitar legends may provide plenty of inspiration to budding musicians, but they also need practical help on learning to play.
By creating its own apps, Fender also can extend its brand among a younger generation of consumers who rely on mobile devices for a wide variety of activities. Fender found that 50% of new guitars are bought by females, challenging the idea that guitar playing is a male-dominated activity. The company also found that 45% of guitar shoppers are first-time buyers, making consumer education a key part of a sales strategy that extends into retail.
To help train salespeople, Fender built an enterprise-level web app called Fender Academy that's continually updated with product information and now has 5,500 users, Jones said. Fender's market research found that people spend four times as much on music lessons than they do on their first guitar — a potential revenue stream that could be captured with app subscriptions to Fender Play and Fender Songs.