Saturday 21 October 2017

The Edge helps Stratocaster-maker find what it's looking for with app

The Edge and Bono on stage during the Canada Day Celebrations in Ottawa last weekend
The Edge and Bono on stage during the Canada Day Celebrations in Ottawa last weekend

Lucas Shaw

Almost 40 years after The Edge got his first Stratocaster guitar, the U2 star is helping Fender Musical Instruments, where he is a board member, to market a learning app.

The new app, Fender Play, went on sale yesterday in the US, UK and Canada.

"There's still a lot of interest in guitar music, but it doesn't appear at the forefront of contemporary culture,'' The Edge said.

"It's in the back there somewhere. This will help."

In the 71 years since Leo Fender starting making guitars in a radio repair shop, the company has sold Stratocasters to the likes of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, gone through ownership changes and weathered a few recessions.

Today, it is controlled by a unit of TPG Capital and Servo Pacific Inc. But the number of guitars sold in the US is stagnant and few top music acts today play guitar.

With industry sales slack, the world's biggest guitar-maker sees Fender Play as one way to boost revenue.

"There are a lot of people who have guitars under their beds," said Ethan Kaplan, Fender Digital's general manager. "If we could give them a quick path to feeling accomplished, we could re-activate this existing base."

Two years ago, TPG Growth and Servco recruited Andy Mooney, a veteran of Nike and Walt Disney Co, to bring Fender into the 21st century. TPG's Bill McGlashan also recruited Evans and U2 lead singer Bono to join Fender's board.

"They were looking for some big gains, which they saw by leveraging Fender and digital products and services," Mr Mooney said.

The Edge has played a Fender since he was 17 or 18 and used his first professional-grade guitar to record U2's debut album, Boy. He owns a few hundred now, most of which are in Dublin.

His favourite, a recreation of the guitar he has played for decades, bears his name.

He often looks up YouTube videos of himself at the beginning of a tour to remember how to play certain songs. In the app, he and the band will help would-be guitarists learn hits such as 'Beautiful Day', 'Desire' and 'Where the Streets Have No Name'.

"I'm not one who loves practising the fundamentals the basics, the scales," The Edge said. "The quickest way to bone up on a tune is to see a video of someone playing it - or playing it yourself." (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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