Warner Music Boost Fund’s First Investment Is A Universal Instrument Startup


Universal instrument startup Artiphon has become the first public investment for Warner Music Group’s Boost fund, a seed-stage fund for innovative music startups. WMG’s investment was part of the Nashville-based startup’s first institutional round, a $2 million seed.

Jacob Gordon, Artiphon’s co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, tells Hypepotamus that the funding will fuel team growth, support and updates, and expanding their distribution in Europe and Asia.

Artiphon produces the Instrument 1, a device that plugs into a smartphone, tablet or computer to produce sounds of any instrument — drum, guitar, violin, piano and more — on its built-in speakers. The lightweight device, which starts at $399, is physically manipulated by the user to allow them to tap, strum, press, or slide to mimic the playing of various instruments.

Instrument 1 can then be connected to the hundreds of music apps on the market, including Apple’s GarageBand, to create tunes and songs. It can even allow users to explore their inner DJ. 

Artiphon also has a companion app that allows users to customize their device.

The startup was founded by CEO Mike Butera, a sound studies PhD, multi-instrumentalist, and electronics designer. The early team raised angel funding from Revolution’s Steve Case, 500 Startups’ Dave McClure, and Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup.

In 2015, prior to launch, Artiphon opened a Kickstarter campaign to bring in additional capital and generate interest. They surpassed their initial goal of $75,000 in less than three days, eventually pre-selling $1.3 million worth of product before it was even manufactured — the most successful musical instrument crowdfund ever.

That same year, Instrument 1 was named one of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of the Year.

Since 2015, Artiphon has maintained the same original Instrument 1. They have focused on software updates, both to their own app and compatibility with other apps.

Artiphon has several open roles right now, mostly in engineering. Gordon says they plan to double their team of nine this year, and remain in Nashville.

“Music City has been a great place to test products with musicians, and Nashville investors have been a key part of our growth, including in this latest funding round,” he says.