Sweetwater’s revenue hits record $1 billion in 2020 amid COVID-19 pandemic

With over 1.5 million customers served last year.

Sweetwater Store

Photo: Jim West / Alamy

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As Guitar Center reels from its Chapter 11 filing late last year, another musical instrument retailer has clocked record revenues in 2020: Sweetwater.

The online retail giant has announced that, in 2020, it crossed $1 billion in revenue and served over 1.5 million unique customers, a 50 per cent gain from 2019. These figures make 2020 Sweetwater’s best-performing year.

While many in the music retail industry – from Gear4Music to Fender – initially believed they would suffer financial repercussions due to COVID-19, an uptick in beginner musicians, podcasters and engineers buying gear to fill their time in lockdown proved otherwise.

Sweetwater was able to add over 400 new jobs, increasing employee headcount by almost 30 per cent. Additionally, the company managed to launch a new distribution centre just weeks before COVID-19 lockdowns happened. At 480,000 square foot, the centre is roughly four times the size of the existing one.

In a statement, Chuck Surack, founder and CEO of Sweetwater, lionised the musicians and podcasters who “went out on a limb to invest in a new reality, rather than fold their tents”.

He added: “During such a difficult year, knowing that our customers, manufacturers and employees trust us and can continue to rely on us as a stable and growing influence in the music and audio retail space is something for which we are incredibly grateful.”

Last month, Music Tribe (parent of Behringer, TC Electronic) announced a “super” partnership with Sweetwater with a focus on factory-direct sales. This likely means that Music Tribe products will be pulled from most brick-and-mortar stores, but will be available cheaper online. Some pedal fans believe this to be the reason Behringer pedals are being sold on Sweetwater for just $19.

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