ROLI, the UK music technology startup, has been placed into receivership, citing a smaller than expected market for its products. The news comes despite the company having received money from the UK government to help it survive the pandemic.
Company founder and CEO Roland Lamb is now planning to start a new company, Luminary, which will focus on LUMI, ROLI’s piano learning platform.
“At the end of the day what happened was the pro-focused products that we initially developed, although they were successful in their market, the market was not big enough given our trajectory. corporate, ”Lamb said. Business intern. “We had our eyes on hypergrowth and it turned out to be difficult.”
We first heard of ROLI in 2013 when he launched the Seaboard, an MPE controller that replaced standard piano keys with spongy keys. Although it has received considerable attention, and was even featured in Hollywood blockbuster La La Land, it was a niche product sold at a high price.
In 2017, the company was targeting a larger market with its BLOCKS series of controllers. However, these were launched with limited software application and, despite high level support from Pharrell Williams, struggled to make an impact.
Then in 2019 came LUMI, a piano learning platform that combines an illuminated keyboard and a piano learning app. Launched on Kickstarter, it exceeded its fundraising target, but backers have complained about shipping delays and build quality issues have also been reported.
ROLI then released an updated version which has been said to be more sustainable and provide better key action. LUMI was also relaunched as a production device.
During all this time, ROLI received significant investments, acquiring other companies – iincluding music software developer FXpansion – along the way. However, rumors of financial difficulties have been circulating for some time.
The telegraph reports that ROLI has also received taxpayer funding from the UK government to help it survive the pandemic. This came from what was known as the Future Fund, which donated between £ 125,000 and £ 5million to start-ups, on condition that these were matched by investors.
It remains to be seen whether investors or the government will get some of their money back, but The Telegraph also notes that Roland Lamb has now secured £ 5million investment for Luminary from a company known as Hoxton Ventures. .
“Our primary investor Hoxton Ventures was not prepared to fund Roli and instead wanted to invest in Luminary to advance the consumer opportunity,” Lamb said.
It is believed that the 70 employees of ROLI will be transferred to Luminary, which wants to become the “Piano Platoon”.
It remains to be seen whether this will be a more efficient business model than the one ROLI has pursued. While the LUMI has some advantages as a learning tool, its small size means that playing with two hands – essential if you want to become a proficient pianist – is virtually impossible.
Multiple units can be clicked together, but the LUMI’s relatively high price tag ($ 299 / £ 299) makes it an expensive workaround.
A question-and-answer page on the ROLI The website states that all ROLI and LUMI products will continue to be supported as before and that the respective brands, websites and social media pages will still exist. Orders for existing products will also be honored, although they may arrive “a little later than expected”.
Luminary has also confirmed its intention to relaunch the Seaboard in 2022.