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Thread: Ukulele Business Still Booming: Good News

  1. #1
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    Default Ukulele Business Still Booming: Good News

    Came across this article in a local (more or less) newspaper. Very upbeat about the future of ukuleles and stringed instruments in general:

    Industry is humming

    The overall musical instrument industry in the United States had $6.2 billion in revenue in 2018, with a profit of $341 million, according to IBISWorld, a Los Angeles market researcher. The retail market posted 1.2% annual growth from 2013-2018, but it is expected to decline to a yearly growth rate of 0.9% through 2023. There are 13,191 such musical instrument-related businesses nationwide.

    http://santarosapressdemocrat.ca.new...link=1c5452e1b

  2. #2
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    What WE have known all along

  3. #3
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    I first became interested in playing the ukulele about twenty-five years ago. At that time you would never have seen a uke in the window of a music store. Most music stores would not have had any ukuleles in stock. It was difficult to find a decent ukulele. The first one I bought was made in Japan, and the bridge fell off pretty quickly. The second one came from Taiwan. The neck had been butt jointed to the body, after the gloss finish was applied, no dowels, no screws - just glued on. It fell off within a week or so. My third uke, I built myself.

    Yes, the ukulele has had a presence in western music (not C.& W.) for about a hundred years, but its popularity has waxed and waned a number of times over that time. The present boom shows no sign of tailing off, as far as I can see.

    John Colter.
    Last edited by ukantor; 04-14-2019 at 02:25 PM.

  4. #4
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    I attribute the current interest to the advent of the internet and the ease in which the general public can see and learn about ukuleles. Certainly the presence of Jake Shimabukuro, Iz's "Over the Rainbow" followed by so many virtuoso performers shows how versatile it is. I played guitar for almost 50 years, then I took up the uke about 6 years ago. I found it so comfortable and fun that I gave my nephew two of my guitars and plan on selling my other two.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

  5. #5
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    The 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco introduced the ʻukulele to American and international audiences. Within a few years Martin was making the wee instrument, Tin Pan Alley song writers were trying to emulate the Hapa Haole Hawaiian style and the rest is history. Basically the USA went crazy over Hawaiian music and associated instruments such as the steel guitar and 'ukulele for the next couple decades. The popularity waxed and waned but has always been there for the past century. I suspect the Hawaiian music aspect of the 'ukulele isn't as popular now as it was in the 1920s but the ukulele itself has been integrated into Western pop culture and has nearly displaced the guitar as a household instrument.

  6. #6
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    I read that article this morning. Kala has been an important part of our community for years. they have sponsored ukulele workshops, and got us "Petalukes" in the annual parade. Most of the participants in the Petalukes group play Kalas.
    Kala Ukuleles is also the reason I decided to fix ukuleles rather than attempt building ones, I just couldn't match the quality of even the mid priced Kalas.
    There is lots of musical instrument makers, a major supplier of materials and technicians here in the North Bay, it makes for a great community in this blessed climate where you don't have to worry about drying and cracking.
    Glad to be here Dave

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1 View Post
    Look at the history that already exists and take the marketing material we see coming out now with a grain of salt. Ask yourself if the phenomenon that started around 1916 - 1920 has really ever stopped growing in the area where you live.
    I do think the popularity of certain types of musical instruments do wax and wane in popular culture over time. It can also be geographical. I do remember in my area that the ukulele was definitely seen as a fringe instrument not really worthy of serious study in the 1950's and 60's when the guitar became king. I also think it can be a regional thing. Look at George Formby, a beloved figure in Great Britain but virtually unknown in America. Then flashes in the pan like Herbert Claury (aka Tiny Tim) who was an American phenomena. I do think the ukulele is an instrument that will endure and has endured, but I sometimes wonder if the current level of interest will endure at current levels. I hope so because I love the instrument. But there might be a zither resurgence on the horizon. Or maybe the theremin?

  8. #8
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    Maybe the melodica is the next wave! I recent saw a melodica band in a parade with maybe a hundred young Japanese women playing melodicas of various sizes complete with dancers and flag wavers...

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    To my observation in my own location the Ukulele market is doing well and nationally I believe that there is quite some scope for growth too. However, be aware that like every fad, craze and bubble before it the Ukulele one will also fade away or burst at some point. When it does fade or burst the market will be flooded with second hand Ukes that nobody wants and folks like Martin will stop making Ukes - just as they did last time. An additional factor is the current good state of the economy, typically folk have spare cash in their pocket at the moment and are happy to spend some of that on a Uke. However that good economy cannot be relied upon to last and once cash gets tight the new instrument market will suffer.

    In the longer term, say ten to fifteen years time, I wonder who will be buying and playing Ukes. The Uke club’s that I belong to have only a small percentage of members that are under retirement age in them, and us older folk enjoy singing the popular songs of our youth, or similar. That type of music might well die with our generation. The Ukes that have been bought to date are a set-up cost for existing players, but when they give up those instruments will be sold and undercut new ones on price. Even now of the Ukes that I own over half are second hand and I always purchase second hand if I can - they’re better value (often barely used and much less than the new price ) and it’s better for the environment.

    Culturally I really am uncertain whether the generations below us are music makers and am inclined to believe that the social trend, through the generations, has been to become listeners rather than players. In the U.K. the teaching of music inside and outside of school has declined over several decades. Just as one example no one whistles anymore or hums a tune, instead they are plugged into their headphones listening to ‘canned music’. It would be fair to say that the picture is complex and that music is still made in community groups, however the music is typically made by older people and our days are numbered, and so it might be for the Uke too, in the longer term.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 04-15-2019 at 12:19 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post
    music is still made in community groups, however the music is typically made by older people and our days are numbered, and so it might be for the Uke too, in the longer term.
    I agree that the uke groups that I've seen and played with tend to be older and even elderly. One time I thought a guy died mid song but he only fell asleep. On a more cheerful note, I've sold some fairly high end ukuleles to parents for their kids. The kids really respond and seem to love them. One 8 year old girl has gotten quite good actually. Also here in Northern California, many schools use the ukulele in their music classes because of its affordability and portability. When I was a kid we were required to learn on the recorder flute which everyone hated and who still plays the recorder?

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