Strum a guitar, bow a violin, tap a piano—heck, even loop a beat. That’s the promise of the Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1, a sleek and versatile tool that can transform its sound into whatever you want it to be.
The INSTRUMENT 1 came from the brain of Dr. Mike Butera, a multi-instrumentalist and product designer who’s made it his mission to democratize music making with adaptive technologies. In other words, he set out to make an intuitive device to use with music apps so that creating music wouldn’t just be limited to tapping a screen or keyboard.
Mike was clearly onto something, because the INSTRUMENT 1 Kickstarter campaign, which ran in 2015, surpassed its funding goal of $75,000 and raised $1.3 million from more than 3,000 backers in 70+ countries.
“We come into work each day and ask ourselves: How can we better support this colorful community of users and inspire potential customers?” says creative director Adam McHeffey. “From sharp video content to emails bursting with color, we do our best to show off all this new product can do and how it can elevate music-making for our customers.”
When Adam walked us through their Nashville office, we got to test the awesome powers of INSTRUMENT 1 and learn more about how Artiphon has kept their momentum going. Adam cites an extensive network of influencers and musicians as integral to Artiphon’s marketing strategy. Here are his top tips for working with them—and how they influence Artiphon, too:
“We have something that you might call a ‘substance policy.’ Every email we send has to have a great piece of video content, a beautiful photo, something juicy like that,” Adam says. “We adhere to the show-don’t-tell philosophy. Let’s not tell our customers that you can play a synthesizer like a guitar; let’s make a video, really inform people, and show them how fun it is.” It’s one of the ways they keep their open rates as high as they are, he adds.
And those displays, whether they’re on Instagram or a YouTube video, have garnered a growing audience that also shows what they’re capable of doing with the instrument. “The validation a potential customer gains from watching others play is so great,” Adam says. “These organic videos go farther than any glossy commercial we can create ourselves, and we share them frequently via Facebook, Instagram, the Artiphon blog, and of course, a monthly Community Roundup email.”
“Linking up with artists and influencers really helps to expand our audience. Finding these people is a supremely fun challenge,” says Adam. So how do they do it?
Some artists reach out to the company, such as Jesse Daniel Smith, a Canadian singer-songwriter who makes YouTube videos of cover songs with tens of thousands of views. “We liked that he was left-handed; playing the instrument left-handed is something we wanted to feature,” says Adam. “He’s a great interpreter of popular songs, which the internet loves. That made him an easy choice to pair up with.”
Adam also tours the country with his own band, Swear and Shake, and meeting artists on the road every day has helped him show other bands what a great touring companion the INSTRUMENT 1 is.
Recently, the team also put up a Craigslist post looking for anyone in New York or Nashville who likes to dabble with music. “Not surprisingly, we were overwhelmed by the response here, and it led to some amazing friendships that are still blossoming.”
Artiphon is continuously improving its product. “What’s fun about digital instruments is that through app and firmware updates, we can literally improve the playability and add new features while our customers sleep,” says Adam. “They can wake up to a brand new feature.”
But explaining those features can be difficult, especially when they’re groundbreaking. Adam cites a video they made that didn’t get too many hits, likely because it was missing a human component and wasn’t friendly enough, he says. “How do we make their music-ing easier, not more complicated? We are always trying to listen to our customers, figure out what is working for them, and follow that.”