Music Making on the Rise in the U.S.

NAMM’s State of the Music Industry Report Suggests Playing Music Continues to Be Highly Important to Americans

August 22, 2006

A new U.S. Gallup Poll reveals Americans of all ages are continuing to pursue music making and offers insight into the attitudes behind this passion as part of the 2006 Music USA: NAMM Global Report.

NAMM, the trade association for the international music products industry, has released the 2006 Music USA: NAMM Global Report, a state-of-the-industry publication focusing on trends, sales and music education issues from around the world. The report—which covers a broad spectrum of music industry segments from grand pianos, to DJ gear, to violins, to electric guitars—reveals interesting data on the industry and attitudes toward music making:

Guitars and Pianos—America's favorites

  • Guitars are currently the highest selling musical instruments in America—approx. 3.4 million sold in 2005
  • In the last two years, the electric guitar has caught up to the acoustic guitar as per unit sales are becoming even at just over 1.6 million each
  • Overall, the fretted products industry is a $1.4 billion dollar industry in the U.S.
  • Yet still more Americans play the piano (31%) than the guitar or bass (28%)
  • Americans are making more music than any other nationality. The U.S. market accounts for 42.7% of musical instrument purchases, followed by Japan at 15.6% and the U.K. at 6.7%
  • More than one-half of U.S. households (52%) has at least one person, age 5 or older, who currently plays a musical instrument—a sharp contrast compared to the United Kingdom at 37% and Australia* at 36%
  • 40% of U.S. households have two or more musicians
  • More women (51%) play musical instruments than men (49%)
  • The fastest-growing segment of music makers is between the ages of 18 and 34; an increase of 5% percent since 2003
  • More people are encouraged by their parents to take up an instrument (37%) than become interested on their own (29%), or are encouraged by a teacher (17%) or someone else (16%)
  • Almost three-quarters of survey participants started playing before the age of 11
  • The number of people participating in school instrumental music activities and private lessons increased by 11% since 2003

*2001 data

The report also highlights attitudes behind these trends:

  • 85% of Americans believe that music is a very important part of their life
  • 82% of Americans wish they had learned to play a musical instrument, and 67% expressed an interest in learning to play
  • 94% of respondents believe music is part of a well-rounded education, and that schools should offer instrument music instruction as part of the regular curriculum
  • 85% believe participation in school music corresponds with better grades and higher test scores
  • Seniors are turning to music making as not just an enjoyable pastime, but also for the health and wellness benefits such as enhanced immune systems, stress reduction and staving off depression and loneliness

"With more emerging research linking active music making to a host of educational and health benefits as well as being a source of expressing creativity and having fun, it's only natural to see an increase in playing across every U.S. demographic group," said Joe Lamond, president and CEO, NAMM. "More Americans are discovering that you don't have to be a 'musician' to enjoy the proven benefits and enjoyment of playing music."

The music products industry's 16 million unit transactions last year in the U.S. alone show that the industry reaches a broad swath of the population. As more people learn about the benefits of playing music, the industry expects to see America's fondness for music making continue.

In addition to the U.S. data, the 2006 Music USA report also features industry trends on different market segments and offers a global overview of the music products industry by featuring data from nine countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom.