A recent study from guitar company Fender poses the question: is the future of guitar female? And, well, it very well could be.
According to the study, 50 percent of all beginner and aspirational guitar players in the U.S. and the U.K. are female, and “guitar players of today are more diverse than before.”
Three years ago, Fender conducted a similar study that proved the need to focus on female players, so the brand began seeking relationships with female artists, highlighting women in marketing campaigns, and promoting a millennial-focused line of guitars with women-led bands, among other strategies, Rolling Stone reports.
“The fact that 50 percent of new guitar buyers in the U.K. were women was a surprise to the U.K. team, but it’s identical to what’s happening in the U.S.,” Fender CEO Andy Mooney tells Rolling Stone. “There was also belief about what people referred to as the ‘Taylor Swift factor’ maybe making the 50 percent number short-term and aberrational. In fact, it’s not. Taylor has moved on, I think playing less guitar on stage than she has in the past. But young women are still driving 50 percent of new guitar sales. So the phenomenon seems like it’s got legs, and it’s happening worldwide.”
Upon seeing the news, HAIM — a band made up of sisters Danielle, Este, and Alana — wrote on social media: “THIS. MAKES. US. SO. HAPPY.”
Music critic Caroline Sullivan tells The Guardian that such an increase in women taking up the guitar may show that millennial women want to play an instrument “whose whole basis is: look at me.”
“It doesn’t surprise me that a lot of young girls are taking up the guitar, because playing guitar seems much cooler and more dominant than doing the traditional female thing of standing behind a keyboard looking pretty,” Sullivan says.
Fender’s report is both exciting news as well as a way to call attention to the ongoing sexism related to the music industry: earlier this year, The Daily Beast pointed to a report that said only 9.3 percent of Grammy nominees in the last six years have been women, for example.
Singer-songwriter Emma White said: “I’ve been told so many times that we can’t sign you … I literally had someone tell me, you know how to write a song, but we can’t sign you because you’re a woman, and we can’t sign another female. To me I’m like, that can’t actually be a reason for you not to sign me!
In an interview with NME in 2017, Alana Haim addressed some of these issues, explaining that the band will still be asked who writes their songs, for one.
“We still have to fight this s**t,” Alana said. “The other day, I was told at a radio station, ‘You don’t need headphones. I’m sure you don’t want to mess up your hair.’ ”
“I feel like the one thing that’s happening is we’re all banding together and not letting that s**t get us down. Like f**k that s**t! I’m f**king over it! Like, no one is going to make me feel anything other than a powerful woman because I love playing music and I love being onstage and if these f**ks want to do that s**t, the only way that will change is if we don’t stop.”