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Love music: Roland setting the foundation for the next generation of music enthusiasts

Article - March 14, 2024

Beloved for more than 50 years, Roland Corporation continues to provide the world with only the best electronic musical instruments.

BRIDGE CAST AUDIO MIXER

Roland Corporation has been a driver of innovation for over 50 years as a maker of electronic musical instruments—a journey woven into the very fabric of contemporary music. The brand’s products are beloved by renowned musicians, creators, and amateur users alike. And today, Roland’s musical instruments and audio-visual equipment can be seen and heard in live venues, event stages, recording studios, and homes all over the world.

“Roland was founded on the belief that technology should enhance the creative process, not hinder it. I believe that we’ve continued our growth to date because of our passion for innovation, and the way that we develop technological capabilities that allow us to overcome new challenges,” says Gordon Raison, CEO of Roland Corporation, which was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka, Japan, in 1972.

Part of Roland’s magic is that it specializes in both hardware and software, whilst also developing its own proprietary technology, says the CEO.

 “Developing electronic musical instruments requires a deep understanding of technology, and while we don’t manufacture the chips, the designs are very much ours. When you sit down with our instruments, you should feel comfortable and inspired —there should be a creative symmetry between the person playing and the instrument. Our goal is to deliver an experience that’s every bit as enjoyable as playing an acoustic instrument, for example, drums or piano, and then go even further.”

Indeed, digital technologies have advanced in nearly every industry and music is no exception. Today, producers can compose and distribute high-quality music from a computer-based digital workstation. While for amateur musicians this process can be somewhat daunting, Roland Cloud—a subscription-based service including software recreations of the brand’s iconic legacy instruments—aims to make music production more accessible than ever before.

“The next stage for Roland Cloud is to expand beyond the core audience. Currently, around 80% of subscribers are experienced ‘top tier’ hobbyists and professionals. We’re looking to bring the potential of Roland Cloud to a much wider community—the goal being to remove the barrier of entry so that more people can learn instruments and make music. For example, our free Zenbeats music-making software runs on computers, tablets, and smartphones and lets people produce great music as easily as possible—wherever you are in the world.

“We’re also several years into exploring how AI can support the creative process, as seen in the i-Arpeggio technology on our JUPITER-X synthesizer, which uses built-in AI to analyze your keyboard performance. It can sense how hard or soft you are playing, as well as your skill level. It then adapts the composition to match the way you play, with very inspiring results.”

In terms of where next for this enduring brand, Mr Raison is upbeat, with a recent push into gaming audio via its BRIDGE CAST series, plus a flourishing adjacent category dedicated to pro-video products.

“We make the tools for the artists and creators. Consequently, I would say that we’re a brand that is truly loved, because the people who connect with us have a passion and an affection for what we make. It all comes from the love, care, and attention to detail of the people who work for the company. It may sound cliché, but it is true.”

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