Should Companies Make Artist-Branded Synthesizers?


Eagle-eyed viewers of the new Giorgio Moroder + Sia Déjà Vu music video noticed a unique synthesizer – the Novation MoroderNova. 

The MoroderNova looks like a custom version of the Novation MiniNova:


The custom synth makes its appearance in the video about 2;44 in:

It’s not clear from the video how the MoroderNova has been customized. But, it’s not much of a leap to think that companies might release an artist-branded synth – like a MoroderNova with a custom styling and Moroder-style sounds and vocoder presets.

Guitar companies have done artist-themed guitars and effects for years.

Should synth companies do the same and make artist-branded synthesizers? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

via sonicstate

52 thoughts on “Should Companies Make Artist-Branded Synthesizers?

  1. There’s no real need for that level of labeling when a majority of synthesizers are already so dance-heavy. The age of Herbie Hancock promoting a Chroma are long gone and anyone who likes Derek Sherinian doesn’t need him to endorse Korg or Nord. They’re already in the club. Its not an actual problem, but it probably pigeonholes the synth more than the artist. I’m sure no one thinks Moroder is a solo cellist. BTW, the “Cat People” soundtrack rocks the f*ck. Get it, just plain get it. Its an A-1 synth lesson in a box.

    1. in fairness, the Roland and Korg flagships have been unashamed Rudess signature models for about 2 decades.

  2. I doubt if the Open Labs Neko Timbaland did much to increase sales. The Dee & Ricky (who?) Casio XW-G1 that is still for sale on eBay ( after a year or more is just a joke. Has anyone bought a Keith Emerson Moog Modular? Would anyone buy an Andres Segovia Hauser guitar? It does not stop wave after wave of guitar-hero-wannabee star-“tribute” electric guitars from appearing in all the music catalogs with unsurprisingly inflated prices. How about a Tony Banks Roland JD-800? Sometimes it is merely a harmless honorarium, sometimes it is a sign of ego problems. Either way, does it make it play better? Or more importantly, does it make YOU play better?

    1. Actually, with the “Timbaland Series”, Open Labs did increase their sales significantly back in those days. I don’t recall the exact numbers, but it was quite important. And my sources are good on that, I was working their at the time and I did work on the Timbaland (both R&D and Production).

      PS: I’m not trying to say it’s a good or bad idea, I’m only giving you this info since I know it from first hand.

      1. I stand corrected. Maybe sponsorship is a good thing. If they could get Hiromi to play a Nord Lead, or Vika on the new Roland, it might go somewhere. But, I think the real stumbling block is and always will be that guitarists are the jocks and keyboardists are nerds. Even though the nerds end up running the corporations, the jocks still get all the birds.

        1. artist sponsors also give a way more in-depth way of providing EXAMPLES of a synth’s sound potential. Most marketing reps no doubt understand that their weak simpleton demoes very very rarely grab people, especially these days when youtube reviews have a huge amount to do with the mass’s opinion of a synth’s potential. Even then, there are still major genre blindspots for the use of MOST instruments. You are still very hard-pressed to find complex chords and melodic leads along with synth modulations being showcased appropriately on ANY synth.

      2. I think the point is well informed people won’t buy a synth because of an artist endorsement. But the not-so-well-informed will. What market has a majority of uninformed customers? I can see it now…
        Access Virus TI3 could come in 2 different colour schemes both with the same price and features:
        Access Virus TI3 (grey model) normal sales
        Access Virus TI3 (Black Model) Showtek Edition – massive sales increase

  3. i hope not , that is a terrible idea.
    the last thing i want is an instrument with another artists name on it. and i def don’t want his/her sounds
    whats the point of creating if your just imitating unless of course that is what you enjoy , but i won’t be buying a synth taylored to another artists style. no tanks.

    1. While I agree with the spirit of originality, there are countless artists that played a Gibson Les Paul and they all contributed in their own way. It’s now an iconic instrument.

      I fail to see how a synthesizer with custom specs is any different. It’s not like anyone would force the user to only use factory presets prescribed by the artist. I think it’s rather interesting to see a change in format that possibly opens new doors altogether.

      1. Les Paul actually made that guitar from the ground up though – that’s why his name is one it. In this case it looks like AT BEST the artist contributes a few presets, with MAYBE a special function or two, and most importantly mutual brand improvement.

        1. Yes – and that’s exactly the type of innovation that I think would be interesting. Not a rebadged product, a true custom design.

  4. It’s a good way to alienate your potential customer base unless you want to appeal solely to just Skrillex, Right Said Fred, Milli Vanilli, etc, aficionados.

  5. Might be a good idea if the artist versions are better constructed with more wood, better knobs, better gooseneck MIC, less crappy plastic for a price premium. If not then I don’t see a point.

  6. NO! There is already too much branding in the world. Labeling will make people expect to “sound” like their favorite artist, then be dissapointed by the outcome.
    Putting “rad synth” on it would be more enticing.
    Let’s try to do something original man.

  7. I suggest it is a “skin” face layover that you purchase with the addition of a sound set and arpeggios and other specialized button or knob functions created by the Artist it represents. Personally I think it is a great idea if thats what it is.

  8. Quasimidi did the Klaus Schulze edition of their 309 in the late 90’s. Kraftwerk endorsed and help develop the Doepfer vocoder modules, even though they were not branded on the actual modules. And lot’s of companies have used endorsements to market their products, Arturia, Moog etc. So do we need more branding in the synth business? Nah. Will we get it? Most likely.

  9. At the music store: “ok, I’ll get the Depeche Mode Nova… oh can you also throw the JM Jarre one in there… and how about the Kraftwerk one too. It is a buy three get four deal one… ok, well I’ll take the Moroder too. Ok, so do I have talent now? … you say no… but I am getting an nifty woolen hat I can wear in the hot studio! … Wow gee…thanks… now I can be making hipster beats!”
    Seriously with all due respect to Novation (I love the Bass Station 2), you, the artist, make your own music inspired those great musicians. And also, leave that woolen hat in the closet unless it snows outside.

  10. It’s only a good idea if it gives struggling artists a potential revenue stream in a time where it can be difficult to make a living with music. If it’s only for big names already leaving in mansions and is just full of presets that sound for people to sound like them, I would think it would end up producing a lot of derivative music.

  11. Personally my opinion is there is not much sense if an edition differs in nothing but the label. Different presets are minor touch too, this all stuff is cosmetic. But how about a synth developed under a guidance of a well-known musician? To that I say Yes!

    There have already been precedents – Bleep Labs made a little noisemaker for Neon Indian and the Harvestman released a custom synth for SONOIO (Alessandro Cortini). That’s just out of the top of my head, but wouldn’t that be cool if there were also say something by Mark Mothersbaugh or Martin Gore in the list! (Wait, MG actually has a line of his eurorack modules announced, but they’re utility; I’d rather see some sound-making machines).

    So yeah.. each artist has their own ways of working with sound, and seeing what features they’d include in their signature instrument would be cool.

    Me, after working and performing with volcas, I like some of their immediacy aspects so that would’ve been a good beginning: make a three or four-voice synth with some parameters that dramatically change the timbre: e.g a 1-knob called ‘fm depth’ for modulating with another oscillator without affecting base pitch, then I’d add a crossfader for 2 oscillators per voice and spring reverb. Some of the best patches I created on modular were cv over verb, so there we go. Of course I’d make it possible to assign modulation to x-fade, reverb amount and (why not) fm depth. That would make a flexible machine with some of the most interesting features of a modular but without time-consuming patching. Then there would be sequence recording per track — something that is there in the DSI Pro-2, but for my take I’d ditch the keyboard and make it more portable. That would be my custom synth 🙂

    1. Yes – this is pretty much where I was headed with my comment regarding Gibson guitars. The LP was so successful because it was a brand new design, not because it had Les Paul on the headstock.

      The nice thing about synths is that many of them allow you to download artist preset-packs – Moog does this frequently. It is interesting to me to see how other people have configured their equipment and this gives me new ideas on what is possible with their stuff. Modular also offers a lot of options here as individual module designs can be easily tweaked and entire systems could be built.

  12. Novation, please fetch out an updated KS rack, lots of outs and effects etc. I have two ageing rack versions and would love to know , a new Novation muti timbral rack synth was on its way.

  13. its dum,,but can i say there already is a justin beiber keyboard on the market ,,and any artist that wants there name on a keyboard is pretty much a self conceited fool,and this just proves what a idiot this person is .oh by the way ive never heard of this dude ,,and ive been going clubs since club uk in not that great a name on the council estate streets of england and thats a fact……

  14. I think it would be awesome, but only if 100% of the patches were made by the artist. That way, fans could examine the patches and gain insight into how the musician programs.

    I would love to see a skillex or Trent reznor or infected mushroom synth. I think I could learn from all of them.

  15. Only morons blindly trust brands for brand-sake.
    And if it’s about styling and/or presets… I don’t have anything to say about that, I’m not a hipster and I don’t care that much about presets.

  16. I remember when I was like 6 years old I was getting a new pair of shoes. The only ones I wanted were the bruce jenner shoes. I even asked the salesperson if I could run fast like bruce jenner if I got them. of course the salesperson said yes, I would run really fast.

    But today we have styleflip and you can do it yourself.

  17. all they needed to do was to haver some branded downloadable presets, no need for a full paint job
    , this is what happens when the development team has run out of ideas or have run out of Dev Dollars, feels a bit like what access have been doing to their VIRUS synth for the last 5 years.

  18. Like celebrity naming of products is something new? Air Jordans anyone? Really, who cares. If you are a sucker and buy something because of it’s celebrity naming then that’s your problem. This is all a non issue unless it stunts development of instruments; looking at the amazing variety of synths that have come out in the past 3 years, that doesn’t appear to be a problem.

  19. am fortunate to have a drum machine with Roger Linn’s signature on it, i would like to have a synth with Dave Smith’s name on it. 😉

    i think endorsements are fine, i guess it comes down to if its a real endorsement but those are more effective and genuine when there is a studio tour of an artist you admire and you find out what they use and it inspires you to use the same thing.

    1. I think you nailed it! Synth geeks admire the synth designers, Moog, Friend, Smith, Linn, et. al. However, (for example) I don’t think a Jordan Rudess-signature Korg would move the sales needle too significantly over a stock model. That said, Jordan does grace some of Korg’s ads with his interesting mug.

      As for guitarists, they are more like golfers. High and mid handicappers golfers pay big bucks for brand-name, off-the-shelf clubs endorsed by touring pros. The myth that “you can buy a better game” is catnip to the amateur golf world. But the pros using those endorsed clubs go and find the tour’s technicians to have said brand-name clubs ground, bent, balanced and re-gripped to the player’s specifications, with only the sponsor’s logo intact on the head & grips to meet the contract specs demanded by the club’s manufacturer.

      As pointed out previously, top touring guitarists endorse off-the-shelf “signature” axxes by major manufacturers. These guitars are aimed at wealthy Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers wanting to sound more like the heroes of their youth while playing in their church’s praise band (an honorable pursuit, BTW). Meanwhile, the touring axxe men send their Strats, Les Pauls, PRS’s, etc. to a trusted luthier, who tweaks their “brand-name signature” guitar into something so personal, it might as well be a custom-fit condom.

  20. moog Prodigy- I have no idea did this name was given for Liam (or just this not celebraiting name) but you can see nice synth solo in ‘Baby’s got a temper’ oh I think Liam plays Virus Ti mostly in his songs next is probably Gaia Roland after that miniMoog Voyager, I’m waiting for Gaia special Liam edition, that can be not to expensive cool synth

  21. Though I love most of the music of Giorgio Moroder I think that a synth based around the sounds, sequences,vibe of a particular artist could stifle creativity somewhat. Would it not be better to create a synth with new sounds rather than rehash somebody elses?

  22. Coming soon, the Owl City groovebox, with premade rhythm and backing tracks, and a microphone with built-in Autotune. And there’s a special knob that will adjust the tuning so that every note you hit is in the right key.

  23. I would like a Heiko Maile ( Camouflage), A Martin L. Gore ( Depeche Mode) and a Reznor ( Nine inch nails) nova… but i think that any of them with the name access would be better…

  24. Oh you mean like perfumes? Its not enough that the whole spirit of the audio market is as fetishistic for man as fashion is for woman, its about to go a step forward..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *