King Princess, Phoebe Bridgers, Ashley McBryde, Larkin Poe, Soccer Mommy, Tash Sultana and Wallows are among the 50 artists who will participate in Fender’s new global artist marketing program Fender Next.
The musicians in the year-long program literally span the globe, hailing from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia. Fender selected them through surveying industry insiders and cultural curators and by reviewing more than 1,000 submissions. The goal is to help propel rising artists to the next stage of their career.
“The diverse artist profile we’re seeing onstage is shaping who’s buying and playing guitars today,” Fender CMO Evan Jones tells Billboard. “We released a research study late last year, and it further confirmed what we were already observing: the face of guitar is changing. We found that 50 percent of new guitar buyers are women, and African American and Latino players make up 19 and 25 percent of beginning and aspirational players, respectively. The instrument is also being used in more unique ways in the hands of this next generation of players — who are embracing both digital and analog tools together and don’t necessarily identify their music as any one genre.”
The move furthers the 73-year-old’s company’s efforts to embrace a broader range of players. The company began marketing a millennial-focused line of guitars in 2016 with female acts like Warpaint and Bully after results from a 2015 survey demonstrated that Fender was neglecting its female audience
Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison, who is opening for Kacey Musgraves, tells Billboard, “I’m participating in the Fender Next program because I think Fender is doing a great job of encouraging people to pick up guitars. I’ve always been a Fender girl and the support I’ve gotten from them has been amazing.” Through taking part, she would love to see more young women pick up the guitar. “I can’t say that I’ll really have any influence on girls playing guitar, because I’m still a pretty small artist. But, of course, I hope that I can encourage women to play and feel included. That’s something really important.”
Fender Next kicks off at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, March 14-15, where Fender will host the Fender Next House. Events include concerts by Fender Next artists, as well as product demo stations. Fender Next activations at the U.K.’s Great Escape Festival in May, as well as festivals in Japan and Australia, will feature daytime programming and nighttime concerts.
The participating artists will receive myriad benefits, including select guitar, amp, effect pedals and other gear; push through Fender’s marketing efforts including social media promotion and takeovers and the opportunity to be featured in Fender marketing launches and ads; mini-documentaries on select participating artists distributed via Fender social media, the artist’s channels and by Fender partners; and inclusion on Fender Next playlists on streaming services such as Spotify.