Irwin/Carrillo FS

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Charlotte Pipe

What it sounds like

a Gateway Instrument

An instrument that is designed for beginners into music. Modeled after a flute, the Charlotte Pipe operates as a teaching tool for the player. You have 8 notes that you can play, when you sing into the pipe, a mic within the instrument reads the pitch you are singing at, and you can play in that scale. The idea was created when I was asked to accompany a dance class. After I agreed I realized that while I may be a musical person, I always gave up on my music classes and have very little formal training in music. I was very nervous knowing I was going to be playing with advanced musicians. I created the Charlotte Pipe because I wanted to be able to play and improvise in my own way without the same sort of formal training that a musician might have.` The Charlotte Pipe is meant to both, be played, and to inspire the player to learn how to play an instrument that is more complex. After designing the basic functionality, I showed the instrument to Martin Carillo who then became a partner in the development of the instrument.

The charlotte pipe is a combination of an acoustic instrument, and a midi controller.

-Targeted toward:

People interested in playing music, but do not possess traditional training,

Brand (we need a brand, ex: yamaha, steinway)

Price: ranges 50-200 varying on what is added on, for example if you were buying in bulk for a school, you could buy a bunch of the basic model (bare minimum/ just the pure sound without added on effects). If someone wanted one for themselves with all of the add ons that make it sound great, then they would have to pay more.

Add ons include, effects such as control of delay and reverb, as well as choosing a scale or type of tone that you are using.

for now it is reliant on a computer, in the future it should be a standalone instrument with a computer built in, similar to a synthesizer



  • does not sound like anything else, sounds like its own instrument
  • is easy to play and learn
  • wireless
  • it could be affordable
  • every time it is played it is slightly different (unique)


  • limited
  • how to get people to change the norm, i understand that that is in marketing, but changing traditional views of a craft takes time.
  • while it makes it easier to play with other people, the truth is that the best way to play with other people is to learn a more advanced instrument, while i want this instrument to be both a jump off point to other instruments and its own stand alone device, but one of my big fears is that people will not ever move on to more advanced instruments, or rather the instrument will discourage them from doing something more complicated.
  • At the moment it is difficult to find the pieces to ensemble (guitar hero controllers, wireless mic, etc)
  • Could get very expensive if the gadget is not produced by us.


  • it is very specific in the sound that is produced, this can provide an opportunity for an instrument with a specific purpose
  • there is room for add ons, this allows varying price and demand for what different customers are looking for
  • teaches people about sound
  • inspires people to create more—— inspire better designs in the future.
  • Open to explore different designs (material, shape,etc)


  • synthesizer is the closest thing to this instrument,
    • what is great about the synthesizer, is that it is broad in the sounds it can create, the charlotte pipe is far more specific in how it makes sound, you could potentially do the same thing on the synth, this is both a threat and an opportunity in that the specificity may attract users not looking for something so complex.
  • a melodica, an acoustic instrument that plays a specific scale and is controlled by voice, a threat in the way of its simplicity
  • vocoder, a tool that combines your voice with another instrument, this instrument is essentially the same idea, but puts it into its own instrument, combined with a sine tone rather then another tool.
  • people learn how to do it themselves/also an opportunity

Refined SWOT


  • is easy to play and learn
  • wireless
  • Novelty (Unique)
  • Big market that can expand with time


  • At the moment it is difficult to find the pieces to ensemble (guitar hero controllers, wireless mic, etc)
  • Could get very expensive if the gadget is not produced by us, raising the barrier to teenagers.


  • purpose can change from user to user, depending on the design and wants of the audience,
  • Audience can be manipulated
  • Young audience that can create a relationship in the longterm.


  • Ableton Push
  • synthesizer is the closest thing to this instrument,
  • a melodica, an acoustic instrument that plays a specific scale and is controlled by voice, a threat in the way of its simplicity
  • vocoder, a tool that combines your voice with another instrument, this instrument is essentially the same idea, but puts it into its own instrument, combined with a sine tone rather then another tool.


Charlotte Pipe 1.0/2.0

Charlotte Pipe 2.1


  • A New Instrument

Take advantage of playing with design, this is a new instrument, we should make it look like nothing else, while also referencing something that people already know

  • Different Designs for Different Ages

If we are marketing for varying ages we could take advantage of that, make a version for kids? make a version for above? or we could just have one version for everyone.

Competitive Analysis

The charlotte pipe is going to be targeted towards teenagers, from around 10 to 21. The reason for us to target this audience is because music is very present in the lives of this people. 94 % of high schools in the United States have a music program, and many colleges and universities offer music as a career. In addition, many of the people who torrent or pirate music or are exposed to it are around this ages. In our opinion, this audience is young enough to be able to get a partial or summer job and make enough money to afford the charlotte pipe ( teenagers can legally start working when they are 14) and get into it to purchase different versions when they grow up. This allows us to maintain the potential of expansion towards younger and older audiences in the future. The design of the charlotte pipe should be "sleek" and "cool" attracting the audience because they are in the transition period from teens to adults, making them eagerly want to be adults. The instrument should be marketed through an aggressive campaign in channels of communication available to us. The image of the instrument has to be as the latest innovation to raise popularity and provoke teenagers to want this due to the novelty of its new sounds and easy access to be a musician. It would be interesting for Sam to go to a couple of concerts and play the instrument and show other artists the new and improved prototype.

Refined Competitive Analysis

Our industry is in constant flux. It is constantly evolving to include new electronic instruments for a growing market of people interested in creating electronic music. While this is occurring in electronic music, our industry also crosses over with more traditional instruments as well that are also constantly updating or changing. When the first electric guitar was invented, it was huge. then over time different models came out from different companies, and people gained connections to certain kinds or were simply interested in the differences, this also goes for electronic music. People are fascinated about learning more about electronics and music, how to create more sounds that previously was not thought possible. companies like harmonimix develop new types of pedals every month that music fans go insane for, people want to expand the realms of possibility constantly and are interested in exploring the industry and field.

Even though according to NPR 94% of public elementary schools have a music program, there are usually economic barriers to get deeper into learning music. [1]. Due to the growth on music education on lower levels, there is plenty of music programs on the graduate and undergraduate degree. [2]. Music lessons are expensive. Our main target audience is for those who don’t possess traditional musical training, but would like to learn an instrument, while also being reluctant to  commit to lessons or are having a hard time teaching themselves. Ages 10-21. People this age are exposed to music daily, so there will be high interest in learning about music. In addition, the majority of people that are streaming and pirating music are around this age showing the growing interest. [3] We would also want to introduce it to Educational institutions that want to teach students how to play music. Now that elementary schools are incorporating music programs in their schools they are going to slowly invest in better infrastructure and new ways to teach, so the charlotte pipe could be very useful.

Our costumer needs an instrument that has intuitive control, simple design and is legible and pedagogical allowing him/her to learn progressively how to use the charlotte pipe.

Market Research

We believe in the current world of education and music, giving students easier instruments is not necessarily the way to go. It downplays the abilities of those instruments. What if there was an instrument that was designed for this purpose? We believe that we are entering a market where people have reappropriated certain instruments for a use that has not been developed yet.

Synth Fair

This weekend I went to a synth fair in brooklyn to explore what is new in the market at the moment. What I discovered was that there was a huge interest within this field of new synth design, the most popular booths were the ones that were thinking outside of the box. There were two companies that were the closest in our direction. What both of these companies have in common with us is its attractive qualities as intro instruments.


A synth that is modeled after the popular toy LEGO. People take different parts of hardware and attach them together like lego pieces to create their own hardware and synths.


A synth that lets users upload their own patches to create their own sounds. This may sound far off, but within its fundamentals this is similar and has gotten international attention as it was written about just yesterday after I saw it premiered at the fair.

Main competition-

Ableton (music programs)

Ableton Push is the main competitor

Ableton is probably our biggest competition. Ableton produces and distributes the production and performance program Ableton Live and related instruments and sample libraries, they also have their own software controller Ableton Push. Ableton was founded around 1999 and operates in Berlin, Germany. The founders are Gerhard Behles, Robert Henke and Bernd Roggendorf, all of them have a  background in developing software, Henke worked in music software before. Ableton is very well positioned in the music industry, their competitors are Avid Technology inc, Apple Inc, Native Instruments Gmbg. [4]

Even though our product does not create the same kind of music and the Charlotte pipe has different features, Ableton can indirectly affect our market. Ableton is focusing strengths in making software that would make using Ableton to create music easier. They recently launched a new book called, Making Music – 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers with that purpose. [5]  The same happens with their software controller Push. Even though Ableton is aggressive in the market, we are not competing directly as for now because they have not showed a lot of interest in instruments per se. If the company decides to expand towards our field, there is the big possibility that Ableton will be interested in investing with us or buying us out. So in theory there is the possibility of producing the Charlotte pipe to sell it to Ableton, with the potential idea of making it work compatible with their software (complement) 



Melodica/xylophone/recorder (intro instruments)

What all three of these instruments share, is that they are often used by beginners in music. Very often they are used by those who are just starting to learn music in school, maybe they were given a recorder in their music class as a kid, maybe they were assigned to play the xylophone in jazz band when they didn't know how to play anything else, or maybe they own a melodica and just play on it for fun. This is not to say that there aren't brilliant players of these instruments, they are all taken very seriously and have experts in their craft. These instruments provide competition to the Charlotte Pipe in the way that they are all achieving similar goals. They are all relatively easy to play, they are simple, and they can be played together or with other instruments. The Charllote Pipe can do all of this and more, however, a standard melodica or recorder would definitely be cheaper. The plus to the Charlotte Pipe is that this instrument would actually teach people how music works, rather then just listening to instructions of which notes to hit. Because of how it works, a teacher cannot so directly tell student how to play it, rather they can be taught how to use their intuition to work with other players. This could potentially also be a weakness for the Charlotte Pipe, if a teacher cannot tell the student exactly what to do, this may become troublesome, however the tool is meant to help people teach themselves (similar to the Bennington plan!).


The first popularized synthesizer was developed by RCA in 1951. When it was created, the Synthesizer was expected to be able to replace full orchestras. The ability to shape a tone to however you want, provided possibilities to create not only sounds that replicated other instruments, but sounds that had never been heard before as well. Today, wide ranges of synthesizers are created, some that are as cheap as $20 dollars and some that are as expensive as $10,000, each with different functions specific to that synthesizer. Essentially the Charlotte Pipe is also a synthesizer, with a way more specific function, and that being frequency detection helping you play in specific scales. The synthesizer provides competition in that the sounds that can be achieved are limitless, while as the sounds of the Charlotte Pipe are very limited. This could very well work in our favor, in fact we hope it does, however this could alienate potential users. The ideal market for this instrument is not for those looking for a synth, but would be for those looking for an acoustic instrument with a specific function i.e a flute, and then find the Charlotte Pipe, something that draws similar qualities to an acoustic instrument, but produces electronic sound. If one were to compare it to a synthesizer, then the synth may seem superior, but this would be like comparing the synthesizer to a guitar. Yes a similar effect can be achieved, but the guitar is so specific in its function, that nothing else can quite be like it.


Relationship with Customers

In the world of music, there is a whole culture and base that is built around the products relationship with it's customer. People have deep connections with the companies who make their instrument, and each have different preferences. This is the market we want to latch ourselves on to, if our product could be recognizable enough so that people can develop a deep connection with it and our company, then we will have been very successful.

Business Canvas Model

Narrative Description of the business

Creative Brief


Links to music educational programs



Links to Pirating Music in younger audiences (demonstrating interest in music for a digital generation)


Link to Instructional Video