GM, Fender Digital

Ethan Kaplan

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation

Ethan Kaplan brings over 20 years of experience to Fender Musical Instruments Corporation’s (FMIC), the world’s leading guitar and musical instruments manufacturer transforming music history since 1946. This seasoned and respected executive is the first head of Fender’s wholly owned and rapidly evolving digital consumer products division, Fender Digital. Among many digital initiatives, he shepherded the creation of the new department from scratch, recruiting, staffing, and overseeing the team after joining in September of 2015. Since then, Ethan and his team have initiated major digital modernizations for Fender focused on education, customization and innovation – including Fender Tune and Fender Tone applications, as well as Fender Play – the complete digital learning app for guitar, bass and ukulele. He’s formally ushering a digital ecosystem and directing the company ahead of the curve online. He started his career with his self-proclaimed “dream job” at Warner Bros. Records. Eventually, he’d rise through the ranks to SVP of Technology for both Warner Bros. Records and Warner Music Group where he led the development of their first-ever direct-to-fan platform. He collaborated closely with favorite band R.E.M. on the creation of multiple websites, an open-source music video, and live fan-generated video on stage to launch Accelerate in 2008, which earned the group it’s highest Billboard Top 200 bow since 1996. He transitioned to Live Nation as part of their acquisition of Big Champagne. There, he assumed the role of Head of Product/Technology and helped found Live Nation Labs, a startup within the premier concert promoter that changed the concert experience from discovery to purchase to attendance. A lifelong music fan and owner of a Fender American Elite Telecaster®, the Orange County, CA native seemed destined for the business. At eight-years-old, Ethan’s uncle bought him R.E.M.’s Document, and it quietly ignited his career trajectory. He went on to join the Pulitzer Prize-winning Orange County Register team at just 16-years-old, when he would also start R.E.M.’s most prominent fan web site. He graduated from UC Santa Barbra with a Masters in Fine Arts. When he’s not plotting online revolution for Fender, he’s spending time with his wife and two kids. The family often does weekend photo shoots, speaking to his passion for photography. A true renaissance man, Ethan still finds time to work out every morning (a CrossFit fanatic at heart) and even hits the skies personally piloting small planes. He’s also still holding out for that R.E.M. reunion…