Music News: Electric guitar sales plummet

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Electric guitars on sale at a Guitar Center in 2010.
Electric guitars on sale at a Guitar Center in 2010. (Thomas Hawk/CC BY-NC 2.0)

The birth of rock and roll, with the rise of stars like Chuck Berry, made the electric guitar the quintessential instrument of popular music. Now, though, it looks like that might be changing. A major report in the Washington Post highlights some striking trends. Electric guitar sales have fallen by a third in the last ten years, so that now acoustic guitars are outselling electric models. Major manufacturers and retailers are falling into debt and slashing prices, and innovations like Gibson's self-tuning guitars haven't done much to slow the fall.

There are a combination of reasons for the decline. Kids today don't have young guitar heroes to look up to: most of music's biggest guitar gods have aged well out of the Top 40. The most influential guitarist today? According to the CEO of Fender, it's Taylor Swift. The soaring popularity of the country-turned-pop star is helping to inspire a demographic shift among aspiring guitarists: some guitar teachers who once saw interest coming mostly from young men now find themselves with more girls than boys wanting to learn the instrument.

Brad Delson of Linkin Park says he sees stars and students embracing a new generation of instruments, with traditional rock instruments gradually receding in popularity. "Today, they're gravitating toward programming beats on an Ableton. I don't think that's any less creative," he says. "I'm open to the evolution as it unfolds. Musical genius is musical genius. It just takes different forms."

Eric B. and Rakim announce first show in decades

Hip-hop legends Eric B. and Rakim have announced their first concert in a quarter-century. And yes, that is concert, singular. They're playing a "one night only" show at Harlem's Apollo Theater on July 7, playing their classic album Paid in Full to celebrate its 30th anniversary. (Pitchfork)

#EricBandRakim Reunion Show Tickets On Sale Tomorrow. July 7th, the Apollo.

A post shared by Eric B and Rakim™ (@ericbandrakim) on

Chance apologizes to Dre

Chance the Rapper has apologized to Dr. Dre for including the superproducer's Aftermath label in a screen display mocking music-industry institutions on his spring tour. As Pitchfork notes, on the tour Chance "performed his song 'No Problem' backed by a screen showing several parodies of music industry institutions. Among them were Sony (changed to 'Phony'), Def Jam ('Don't Join'), and Dr. Dre's Aftermath ('Can't Do Math')."

Via Twitter, Chance explained why he shouldn't have lumped Aftermath into that company.

New app lets fans make setlist requests

Will artists embrace the idea of letting fans make setlist requests via app? That's what the creators of Set the Set are hoping. 75 artists including the Killers and Third Eye Blind have signed on to take requests via the app, which launches next week. It allows fans to submit song requests, with explanations of why, and allows artists to respond.

The startup's CEO Nate Tepper says he was inspired to make the app when he went to a Dave Matthews Band concert where they didn't play "Crash Into Me." Tepper wished he could have told the band that was a favorite of he and his girlfriend.

"She's pissed right now!" Tepper remembers thinking. "Obviously, Dave can do anything he wants — he's a legend, an icon. But we just thought it would be cool if the fans could have their voice be heard by the artist." (Billboard)

Gene Simmons gives up trying to trademark devil-horns

Fear not: you won't need to pay a royalty to Gene Simmons every time you want to show a band how hard they're rocking. The KISS frontman has abandoned his effort to trademark the devil-horns hand sign, reports Pitchfork. "Whether that has to do with public backlash, or the fact that the hand gesture also means 'I love you' in American Sign Language, or just that the trademark would be unenforceable, we'll never know."

However, Simmons didn't hesitate to use the gesture on Thursday in a photo with the Dalai Lama — in Minnesota, no less, where both were attending a Starkey Foundation event.

"We Didn't Start the Fire" gets super-accurate video

For his official "We Didn't Start the Fire" video in 1989, Billy Joel went for images of himself singing in front of a literal fire while a family and their kitchen aged through the decades. A new fan-made video abandons that approach for a super-literal approach that matches every single one of Joel's hundred-plus cultural and historical references with a representative image. (Billboard)

A long-overdue honor

Finally, "Weird Al" Yankovic is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — and guess who he was hanging out with when he got the news? (AV Club)


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