How Did the Artiphon MIDI Controller Raise $1 Million on Kickstarter?

"It does for musicians what the Traktor Kontroller S4 did for aspiring DJs."

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Apr 2 2015, 7:40pm

Nashville, Tennessee-based Artiphon have developed a multi-instrument MIDI controller called the INSTRUMENT 1 that's designed to mimic virtually any instrument you could possibly imagine. Four years in the making, the prototype's Kickstarter has surged well beyond their initial goal of $75,000 to a staggering $1,000,000 US (roughly nine-hundred million North Korean won). Why? Because it's awesome.

"A guitarist walks up and they see a guitar. A DJ walks up and they see a grid controller. A violinist walks up and says, 'Oh my gosh! This is the first digital violin ever!'" says Artiphon's founder and CEO, Mike Butera, explaining the instrument.

Throughout its development process the INSTRUMENT 1 underwent extensive beta testing, allowing the public to try their hand at using the instrument. From cellists to guitarists to electronic music producers, the product was given to a wide range of musicians to test out the goods and get their feedback—unlike, say, the iPhone guitar app you bought for 99 cents.

This relatively light, ergonomic device can do a mind-boggling number of things. Hook it up to your PC, Mac, iPhone, or iPad and it will work with most existing production software apps such as Ableton Live, Protools, or Animoog via MIDI (a data transfer protocol commonly associated with digital instruments). You can strum, pluck, tap—the whole shebang.

"Our goal is to create a musical experience that lets people have that direct connection to sound," says Butera. "Whatever their intention is, it can go straight into [that] sound."

Lack of technical knowledge, or lack of funds, or lack of Ableton's new book often create insurmountable creative hurdles for musicians. Bedroom producers especially. It's no surprise then that the musical community has swarmed to get in on the action. INSTRUMENT 1 is, from the outside, much simpler than creating custom sounds in Massive or another production plugin. It's also cheaper. Much, much cheaper. At $349, it does for musicians what the Traktor Kontroller S4 did for DJs: breaks barriers.

The INSTRUMENT 1 makes it that much easier for aspiring musicians of all tax brackets to fall in love with the creative process. It also looks badass in photos. For this reason, it gets the highly coveted THUMP stamp of approval.

Artiphon is on Facebook.

Hollie is on Twitter.

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