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A Music-Tech Startup during a Pandemic

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Henrik Langer Instruments of Things

Henrik Langer, CEO at Instruments of Things tells us about music technology and eurorack tools.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Henrik Langer: My family, friends, and I are ok, although there were some serious Covid-19 cases.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Instruments of Things.

Henrik Langer: That’s a quite long and interesting story, but I will try to keep it short. 

I was always passionate about audio and music technologies. I started to build DIY projects in my early youth and during a three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship as an information system technician. 

At some point, my mentors couldn’t answer my technical questions anymore and said, I have to study to realize my ideas of synthesizers and so forth.

So I started studying computer science and electrical engineering and luckily found a perfect professor and mentor in the first lecture, who is very passionate about music-tech as well.

During my studies, I’ve created several (open-source) projects and had some research insights.

However, I’m more of a practical, hands-on person, and fortunately, there are many government programs in Germany to found your own startup.

So I founded Instruments of Things together with my friends David and Niko.

How does Instruments of Things innovate?

Henrik Langer: We focus on new interaction possibilities for electronic music instruments and media tech based on IoT technologies.

In our view, there is a huge playground with IoT technologies in combination with creative tech, which is not used yet.

We want to provide new kinds of (hardware) tools to artists and creative people to express themselves and create unique experiences.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?

Henrik Langer: Our first product which we shipped in February 2020, is the 2.4SINK wireless interface with motion sensors for analogue synthesizers focusing on live performances.

Obviously, 2020 was a completely different year as we planned, as for most people in the creative and cultural industry.

Thus we shifted our plans and focused on products that are ideal to be used at home.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Henrik Langer: We shifted our plans from focusing on live performances and came up with the idea to create a product for everyone, which is great to play with during lockdown.

So we have created IO-Lights, a light-sensitive music controller to playfully interact with light.

I think being flexible is the most important factor in such a crisis. Fortunately, this is a typical quality for startups.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are helping you navigate the crisis?

Henrik Langer: For communication, we primarily use Zoom and Slack.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Henrik Langer: There are some indirect competitors, which offer products to control music with motion sensors.

However, we focus more on a generic approach so that our products cover a wide range of use cases (e.g., by using many motion sensors on the whole body).

Your final thoughts?

Henrik Langer: 2020 was a crazy year, but we are confident, that especially after this pandemic, there is a high demand for live performances and events again.

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