Musical instrument company Roli files for administration, relaunches as Luminary

Roli, the modular musical instrument business backed by Pharrell Williams and Grimes, has entered administration in the UK, the company has confirmed. It will now relaunch as Luminary, with an emphasis on beginning rather than professional musicians, the company said. 

Luminary will be led by Roli founder and CEO Roland Lamb. Roli had approximately 70 employees who will move to Luminary, which will also retain Roli’s intellectual property and assets. However, Roli raised some $76 million from institutional investors, some of whom will lose their money, according to the report. 

The company launched with the Seaboard modular keyboard and Blocks modular system designed to let you play tunes, tap out beats and do loops while recording music with an iPhone or iPad. It followed up with Lumi Keys, an electric light-up piano designed to help novices learn to play. 

Roli Lumi keyboard and app


However, Lamb said that the company’s early focus on professional musicians and tinkerers limited its potential for growth. “Ultimately, what happened was the pro-focused products we initially developed, although successful within their marketplace, the marketplace wasn’t big enough given our venture trajectory,” he told Business Insider. In 18 months up to June 30th 2019, the company lost £34.1 million ($47.1 million) on revenue of just £11.4 million ($15.8 million). 

As such, Luminary will now focus on learning to read music and play piano with the aim of becoming “Peloton for piano.” To that end, it will offer the $300 Lumi Keys keyboard and an $80 yearly app subscription, along with a basic free tier. It will also relaunch the Seaboard, which has been out of stock recently. “I’ve learned a lot about how to operate in new ways that are better… so I’m excited about this next stage,” Lamb said. 

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