Roland Corporation

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Roland Corporation
Public (K.K.)
Traded asTYO: 7944
IndustryElectronics
FoundedOsaka, Japan (April 18, 1972; 46 years ago (April 18, 1972))
HeadquartersHamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan
Key people
Ikutaro Kakehashi, Junichi Miki[1]
ProductsMusical instruments, Audio/Video, Electronics, Computer-related products
Number of employees
3,060 (2013)
Websiteroland.com
Roland SH-32 WAS Synthesizer

Roland Corporation (ローランド株式会社, Rōrando Kabushiki Kaisha) is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, electronic equipment and software. It was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka on April 18, 1972. In 2005, Roland's headquarters relocated to Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture. It has factories in Taiwan, Japan, and the USA. As of March 31, 2010, it employed 2,699 employees.[2] In 2014, Roland was subject to a management buyout by Roland's CEO Junichi Miki, supported by Taiyo Pacific Partners.[1]

Roland has manufactured numerous instruments that have had lasting impacts on popular music, such as the Juno-106 synthesizer,[3] TB-303 bass synthesizer,[4] and TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines.[5] In 2016, Fact wrote that Roland "arguably did more to shape electronic music than any other [company] in history".[6]

Origin of the Roland name[edit]

Kakehashi founded Ace Electronic Industries in 1960, a manufacturer of numerous combo organs, guitar amplifiers, and effects pedals. He was also contracted by Hammond to produce rhythm machines for the company's line of home organs. In 1973, Kakehashi cut ties with both companies to found Roland.

As with many Japanese start-ups of the period, the name Roland was selected for export purposes as Kakehashi was interested in a name that was easy to pronounce for his worldwide target markets. Rumour has long circulated that he named his company after the French epic poem La Chanson de Roland. In reality, the name Roland was found in a telephone directory. Kakehashi opted for it as he was satisfied with the simple two-syllable word and its soft consonants. The letter "R" was chosen because it was not used by many other music equipment companies, and would therefore stand out in trade show directories and industry listings. Kakehashi did not learn of "The Song Of Roland" until later.[7]

Brands[edit]

Roland markets products under a number of brand names, each of which are used on products geared toward a different niche.[8]

  • The Roland brand is used on a wide range of products including synthesizers, digital pianos, electronic drum systems, dance/DJ gear, guitar synthesizers, amplifiers, and recording products.
  • Boss is a brand used for products geared toward guitar players and is used for guitar pedals, effects units, rhythm and accompaniment machines, guitar amplifiers, and portable recording equipment.
  • Edirol was a line of professional video-editing and video-presentation systems, as well as portable digital audio recorders. Edirol also had Desktop Media (DTM) products, more production-oriented, and included computer audio interfaces, mixers, and speakers. Following Roland's purchase of a controlling interest in Cakewalk Software, most of the division's products were rebranded as Cakewalk products or blended with the professional audio/RSS products to form Roland Systems Group.[9]
  • Roland Systems Group is a line of professional commercial audio and video products.
  • Rodgers was founded in 1958 as an organ company and survives today as a subsidiary of Roland, still manufacturing high-quality electric, electronic, and pipe organs.
  • Cakewalk music software company was a long-term partner of Roland’s. In January 2008, Roland announced the purchase of controlling interest in the company. In 2013, ownership of Cakewalk passed from Roland to Gibson Brands.
  • Amdek was incorporated in 1981 "as a manufacturer of computerized music peripherals and as a distributor of assembled electronic music instrument parts."[10] The Amdek brand is best remembered for a series of user-assembled effects pedals and accessories, marketed until 1983;[11] at least 16 kits are known to have existed.[12] Amdek's primary focus was on the potential uses of personal computers to assist musicians, and in 1982 they introduced the DXY-100, the company's first pen plotter, with the intent of allowing users to print out their own sheet music. Soon realizing the printer had a much larger market potential, in 1983 Amdek became the Roland DG Corporation.
  • Roland DG produces computerized vinyl cutters, thermal transfer printer/cutters, wide-format inkjet printers and printer/cutters, 3D scanners and milling devices, and engravers.[13]
  • At one point, Roland acquired the then-defunct Rhodes name, and released a number of digital keyboards bearing the Rhodes brand. Harold Rhodes had regained the right to the name in 2000 prior to his death that same year. Rhodes was dissatisfied with Roland's treatment of the marque, and had plans to re-introduce his iconic electric piano, but died before he was able to bring it to market.[14]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Taiyo Pacific Partners Supports Management Buyout by Roland's Executive Team". Thomson Reuters. May 14, 2014.
  2. ^ "Roland Corporate Data". Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Blast from the past: Roland Juno-106". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  4. ^ Hamill, Jasper. "The world's most famous electronic instrument is back. Will anyone buy the reissued TB-303?". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  5. ^ Reid, Gordon (December 2014). "The history of Roland: part 2 | Sound On Sound". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  6. ^ "The 14 drum machines that shaped modern music". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 2016-09-22. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  7. ^ I Believe In Music, Ikutaro Kakehashi with Robert Olsen, 2002. p. 64
  8. ^ "Brands and Business Domains". Archived from the original on 2014-02-17.
  9. ^ "Roland rebrands for the future". Archived from the original on 2012-05-07.
  10. ^ "The Milestones In the History of Our Company".
  11. ^ Hughes, Tom (2004). Analog Man's Guide to Vintage Effects, p. 100. For Musicians Only Publishing. ISBN 0-9759209-0-1.
  12. ^ "All musical AMDEK devices (by Roland Digital Group)".
  13. ^ "A History of Innovation Worldwide".
  14. ^ "Biography of Harold Rhodes".

External links[edit]