Breakfast of Champions (The 2019 NAMM Show): Jun-ichi Miki
Jun-ichi Miki has enjoyed a long and vibrant career at Roland, starting in engineering in 1977 and becoming president of the company in 2013. NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond interviewed Miki during “Breakfast of Champions” at The 2019 NAMM Show. There, he shared his insights on creating innovative products, market development and how a love of learning has driven his career.
Early in the discussion, Miki revealed what he believes is Roland’s secret to creating game-changing products.
“Our slogan from the beginning is ‘We design the future,’ so that innovation is the DNA of Roland,” said Miki, adding that “most of our engineers are musicians and know how to play a musical instrument, how to communicate with an instrument. This is the secret of Roland, I believe.”
In terms of markets for those instruments, he mentioned that “sleeping musicians”—people who once played a musical instrument but quit—have become a big customer base for the company. Miki cited Roland’s Aerophone and Piano Every Day app as key products that cater to sleeping musicians.
“For instance, the Aerophone has become a very big hit in Japan, Taiwan and China,” he said. “I’m really surprised that most of these customers are very old senior students or young ladies. These two people were not Roland fans in the past. So it’s a brand-new customer for Roland. And I realized that there are many young girls who start playing saxophone or flute in a school band, but they quit when they start working and get a job. But I realized that they wanted to play something, if possible. And the Aerophone is a solution for them."
Miki also credited his love of learning—going back to his early days in engineering—as key to his career development.
“I designed some circuitry or wrote some code for the software. And then I’ve had a long career as a sound engineer, as well—recording and sampling sound, editing sounds. But when I became the product leader of the piano division, then I started to develop the digital pianos or synthesizers or even the church organs or V-accordion, then the harpsichord. So it’s very interesting to go into a totally different market and talk to the musician, talk to the people to understand them, and I have a huge passion about creating something new. So I always continue to learn from any experience I have, even if I fail at something or make a mistake—this is all, for me, learning.
“Learning is so enjoyable. So I think I will keep learning.”