Beats, Daisy, Topspin. Putting The Pieces Together.

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I’m overdue writing a blog post saying THANK YOU sincerely to everyone for all the kind words I’ve received regarding the article about me in this month’s WIRED magazine. Those thanks should start with Brian Raftery, Rob Capps, and everyone involved on the WIRED side for making me look like a decent human being, passionate about technology and music and in love with my family. It’s nerve-racking to read an article about yourself, especially when it unexpectedly turns out to be a life-story including family and friends. But Brian did an impressive job (IMHO) stringing my rambling this-then-that into a factual narrative. Yes, the story was a bit of a softball, ignoring most of the countless mistakes I’ve made and the many places you could lay fault or blame at my feet. But at this moment in my life, when Zoe is starting grad school and Lucinda is heading into kindergarten, it was a great feeling to hear “congrats!” from so many people. Being honest, I had tears in my eyes reading the last paragraph of Brian’s piece which quotes from this blog. As silly as it is I have tears in my eyes writing the words you’re reading now sitting at my dining table, waiting for Lucinda to rise. It’s a bit scary and surprising to think of my teen-pregnancy-done-ok story as inspiring to anyone — I generally regard myself as a jackass who likes to work and has had a bit of good fortune here and there. In summary: I don’t know that the attention is deserved but I appreciate it nonetheless. I will do my best to live up to it.

I’m writing today to humbly announce the next chapter of my professional career.

If you’ve followed along with what we’ve been up to at Topspin the last five years you’ll know we’ve been working hard to connect our software tools aimed at helping artists grow their fan base and make money to places where fans experience music. Our integrations with MTV and YouTube are evidence of this, and I voice my opinions in depth in this presentation from Americana Music Fest last year.

While my involvement in the artist-to-fan connection dates back to building the Beastie Boys web site in 1993 my work on search/stream music services dates even earlier. As a computer science undergrad I was lucky enough to receive the vision of (and $6.25/hour work-study job from) Indiana University Music Library Head Dr. David Fenske, who had a vision for how students would search the university library’s card catalog, find and stream music from file servers. It was science fiction until we built a prototype of it, with the help of IBM, Rob Francis, and others. In the twenty years since I’ve found myself involved with updates on that vision many times, from Winamp and SHOUTcast to Muse.Net and Yahoo! Music Engine to LAUNCHcast and MusicMatch. While my focus at Topspin the past five years has been building software for artists, it’s been a blast to watch from the sidelines as streaming music finally becomes a reality for the average (non-nerd) music fan, thanks in no small part to the proliferation of powerful mobile devices and faster cellular networks as well as the music industry’s decline to a place where the incumbents recognize they need to welcome new options.

But there’s still a long way to go. While I use and love many music services today (mostly MOG, Songza, and Pandora in my personal life), the music experience and interface hasn’t evolved all that much. In many ways it seems like we’ve spent the last fifteen years answering the basic question of “how do we make the music available” (the question Napster answered in 1999) and not “how do we find the music we love? the music we want to listen to right now?” I talked about my belief that the next phase of Web distribution is “curation by trusted sources” at length in a presentation at Digital Music Forum West two Octobers ago. In a 2006 presentation I accused iTunes of being a spreadsheet that plays music and I’m disappointed the industry hasn’t found a way to surround music with context in the years since (kudos to Pitchfork for building a context-intense “leak” player — what royalty rate are you paying? ;-) ).

Given this, I’m sure you can appreciate my desire to get back in the game building music services for fans. When I left Yahoo! to join Topspin in April of 2008 I was frustrated by the resistance I was meeting from the labels; I felt I was trying to help and my help wasn’t welcome. Times have changed, though, and as Rob Wells at Universal Music Group points out in a conversation we had a year ago, the future health of the industry is dependent on getting these services to scale. Furthermore, the work we’ve done at Topspin over the past five years is immensely useful here. We have direct connections to bios, photos, music, video, merchandise, tickets, etc (context!) direct from artists. Connecting this artist layer to music services fans love will be powerful and exciting.

With this as the backdrop, I’m jumping up and down excited to be able to share that I’m taking on the role of CEO of the project currently known as “Daisy”. Daisy is the subscription service being developed by the folks behind Beats By Dre: Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, and Luke Wood. Daisy, who, as leaked in the New Yorker recently, has Trent Reznor as their Chief Creative Officer. Daisy, who, in July of last year purchased my favorite streaming service, MOG.

At the same time, Beats is making a strategic investment in Topspin (whose revenues grew another 50% in 2012, YAY TEAM) and we are partnering to provide a direct connection to artists inside the coming service. I’m remaining deeply involved in Topspin, taking the role of Executive Chairman and staying on as a member of Topspin’s Board of Directors. We brought in an incredible COO at Topspin six months ago, Jeremy Bellinghausen, and he’s taking the CEO position. The killer team of Bob, Parker, Brad, Jon, Paul, Nicole and so many more remain to double-down on the original mission, with the added bonus of being able to scheme on the ways a consumer service can/should/will serve the artist. [ps - Topspin is hiring! Job postings at http://TopspinMedia.com/blog]

This is an enormous opportunity for Topspin to take the approach we’ve pioneered with MTV, YouTube, and the ArtistLink API generally and set the gold standard for how artists can be integrated into consumer music services. This is the next step in the evolution of the way fans find the music they love and connect directly with the artists who make it. I am stoked and fortunate to get to be a part of it.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to Shamal Ranasinghe for believing in me as Topspin’s CEO to begin with, and to Peter Gotcher, Tim Haley, Ryan McIntyre, and Mark Solon for your patient mentorship and guidance. I’ve always said I’m the luckiest startup CEO in the world to have y’all as my board and it’s a fact.

To the Topspin team, y’all are family and you’re not getting rid of me just yet so I’m not making as much as a wave goodbye.

Thanks sincerely to Jimmy Iovine and Luke Wood for your unending belief in my being the right person for this job. We first started talking about working together on a streaming music service exactly five years ago. I appreciate your patience. The time and circumstances are right. Game fucking on.

ian

Thx to Brian Frank for the suggestion this would be the most appropriate image for this blog post:
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Unfinished business, indeed. So watchya sayin?

Trackbacks & Pings

  1. Trent Reznor’s music service ‘Daisy’ gets a CEO, will launch in late 2013 | VentureBeat on 10 Jan 2013 at 3:35 pm

    [...] into the partnership itself. Notably, Reznor will be Daisy’s chief creative officer, while former Topspin head Ian Rogers will become CEO. Rogers will also be taking over leadership responsibilities for MOG, which Beats [...]

  2. Beats' Daisy Project Revealed, CEO Ian Rogers Declares 'Mission To Win' [Details & Analysis] | Planet 6 String on 11 Jan 2013 at 8:24 pm

    [...] Just found out about this blog post from Ian Rogers. He gets to the heart of the matter on both the business and personal side. [...]

  3. Daisy — Pixel Envy on 12 Jan 2013 at 1:42 am

    [...] Daisy [...]

Comments

  1. Adam Mirabella wrote:

    Ian,

    No one deserves this more than you! You are a true pioneer for music services and artist development.

    I look forward to Daisy becoming as much of a household name as iTunes.

    Adam M

  2. Brian Zisk wrote:

    Congratulations, and best of luck! :-)

  3. Jacob Tell wrote:

    I’m excited to witness where your path leads …. From everybody at Oniracom, Congrats Ian.

  4. Tonefive wrote:

    Congrats Ian! This is great news, as a TopSpin user and a “This Week in Music” fan, I find your work really inspiring and hope to achieve as much as you have in my professional career. Keep on rocking!

    Greetings from Mexico,
    Toño
    @tonefive

  5. David wrote:

    Congrats Ian. Good luck!

  6. Jason Feinberg wrote:

    Congrats Ian, I can’t think of anyone better to lead this charge! There’s a gaping hole in streaming services giving fans the all-encompassing connections they want to the music and artists they love, and I am sure your leadership is going to make a huge impact on this. Search and Destroy!

  7. Clément Elbaz wrote:

    Woah. This is big news. Dr Dre, Trent Reznor and now Ian Rogers under one roof ! That rocks :)

    Best of luck to you Ian !

  8. alysha wrote:

    Congratulations, Ian! This is very exciting for you — and for all music lovers! I am a long-time MOG user and can’t wait to see what you’ll all do together.

  9. max tarkhov wrote:

    Congrats Ian!

    Can’t wait to see what you guys will came up with together! :)

  10. Julie I. wrote:

    Game fucking on, Ian! Awesome news :)

  11. Jeff Theimer wrote:

    You rule. Much love brutha….

  12. David Marcus wrote:

    Dude, this is such great news. Exciting for the industry and fans alike.

  13. @dannydee wrote:

    Congrats homie!!!

  14. Charles Slomovitz wrote:

    Nice One Homes. Fun to watch u roll. U now have super rad new mentor. He produced one of my favorite tunes: Edge Of 17.

    See u at the intersection of Scale and Discovery Street soon. That’s where I
    live.

  15. marc wrote:

    see you in the office monday!!

  16. Mac Rebant wrote:

    Congrats and please do not use the name Daisy!

  17. Adam Bates wrote:

    Big congrats Ian! Can’t wait try out some Daisy.

  18. Jay Frank wrote:

    Huge congrats! This is a massive creative team and if subscription will win, this is the team to do it.

  19. Dick Wingate wrote:

    Ian, you rock! Congratulations!

  20. Michael DEputato wrote:

    Congrats Ian!

  21. Mary Chen wrote:

    Congrats, dude. This is great news.

  22. Rick Gonzalez wrote:

    Inspiring….congrats Ian.

  23. Andrei Marinescu wrote:

    Mount up! Congrats, Ian—can’t wait to see Daisy in action.

  24. Michael Gill wrote:

    Congrats Ian!

    Onward and upward!

    Cheers

    Mike

  25. Cindi Peters wrote:

    Hi Ian! Best wishes, what a journey, what a guy! All good and game on!!! LOL
    Cindi

  26. Jason wrote:

    Just. WOW. So, so happy for you and your teams. Feels good to see all this change & evolution/revolution, and man how exciting for you to be there in it.

  27. juepucta wrote:

    yet another round of messing around with MOG

  28. Lindsay wrote:

    Congrats, Ian! I am very happy for you. This is a win for the music industry in general. You are going to kill it!

  29. Ryan Lee wrote:

    Congrats, Ian! That’s so great to see how life, experiences, and skills come full circle. I’ve been following your career for a few years now and it’s really been inspirational how you’ve been able to transfer your innate love for music into an admirable career. Kudos!

  30. Andy Weissman wrote:

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right

  31. JaaDFire wrote:

    Sounds like exciting times Ian and congratulations on your appointment.

    I remember the days of using winamp and can’t even imagine building a website back 1993 (That was the dark age of the internet, with things like Gopher :)

    Once again, congrats and all the best.

  32. Oke wrote:

    Hi Ian,

    we rarely meet personally though saw each other at numerous events like Midem etc.

    I just want to throw some clapping hands overseas and congrat you on things you have moved so far.

    Hope to cross paths in future and looking forward sharing some thoughts.

    All the best for the new task,
    Oke

  33. Stevo wrote:

    So Sweet, congratulations Ian.

    Remember this if you could shove streaming music services up the ass of Pigeons, the sky would be filled with the sounds of music…

  34. Ryan wrote:

    Congrats from the MOG/Telstra team in Sydney, we are fired up and can’t wait for what lies ahead

  35. Ryan Catbird wrote:

    Awesome news, congrats!

  36. Rich wrote:

    The hardest working man in show biz gets a much deserved dream job!!! Congrats!

  37. Tom wrote:

    ian, i read in the engadget report that daisy would be focused on mobile first, which i totally understand why, but please, dont let a desktop client be an afterthought. mobile/web is fine for the average person, but us hardcore music fans need a responsive native client, not what feels like a glorified browser displaying the web interface. (apologies if this has changed since i tried the mog client forever ago, its kind of hard to keep abreast without a full free version)

    spotify is currently the only service i would consider paying for because the basic functionality of listening to music works so well, but there is so much else wrong with it that i cant justify it. what it looks like they are going to fix in the next version, it seems they are totally going to nullify with an overly flashy and illogical interface.

    with you and reznor involved in mog/daisy/whatever, ive stopped laughing at my friends who swear by mog and am now very curious. nail the desktop client and you may win myself and many others over.

  38. Mitch Rotter wrote:

    Congrats Ian!

  39. Kyla wrote:

    Ian,

    The attention is totally deserved. You are a powerhouse and an inspiration. Can’t wait to watch the next chapter unfold! Congrats.

  40. Jeff Wallace wrote:

    Congrats Ian from MediaNet! Looking forward to doing great things together.

  41. mpegcto wrote:

    I second Stevo’s sentiment. Make some beautiful music and let it reign down from the internets…. A big congrats – and looking forward to the great things ahead

  42. Jason spitz wrote:

    I’ve been on vacation for the past 2 weeks, with 1 week more still left. Gave passing glances to industry news, trying to keep my head in vacation-space. But this story is exciting enough for me to pop back in to the real world and comment. Congrats to you, and to the whole Topspin team, and good luck for a fantastic future. Part of me still wishes i was there to tackle it with all of yall, but i’m happy keeping one foot in the game and consulting for a few bands i really love. Looking forward to seeing Daisy roll out later this year. Kick some ass!

  43. Anthony A. wrote:

    Congratulations on the years of work you’ve put in at TopSpin. This sounds like a great move on your part to take what you’ve worked hard for to the next level. I’ll be cheering you guys on!

  44. Jon Vanhala wrote:

    Ian:
    (late and belated to drop this here but we traded notes)

    Sincere Congratulations. The early looks I got at Daisy are impressive and have a wonderful balance of soul and commerce with a focus on what makes fans lives better…ideal. a great team there and adding you only makes it even better. I’m sure you guys will knock it out of the park. I remain a fan. Cheers.
    JV

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