Highly successful school music and instrument rental programs ushered in the sales boom. Added to that, products developed in the 1930s and 1940s became big sellers in the 1950s and 1960s. Then, a phenomenon called “rock and roll” cranked up the volume on instrument sales. After Elvis, and then the Beatles, invaded the pop music scene, millions of young people bought guitars and started garage bands.
Guitar sales tripled, band instrument shipments doubled and overall industry sales surged from $400 million in 1960 to $1.1 billion in 1969. Wall Street took note of the success. Corporate giants, with little experience in the music trade, bought dozens of established musical instrument makers. Conglomerates became a fact of life.
Consider these highlights:
As the baby boom took hold, the population of school-age children grew from 25 million in 1950 to 35 million by 1959.
Walter Schirra was the first astronaut to play a musical instrument in space. He played the harmonica as he circled the earth in 1962.
All branches of the music industry set new sales records in 1956.
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