A Music Streaming Service That Builds In CwF+RtB? Built By Trent Reznor And Ian Rogers? Sign Me Up

from the could-be-on-the-way... dept

A few months ago in writing about my interview with Trent Reznor, I mentioned that what Reznor was working on with Beats by Dre would be much more interesting than most people thought (at the time, most people were guessing something having to do with headphones). More of the details are starting to come out. First off, there are the two things that everyone in the press is focusing on, the announcement that Trent Reznor has officially been named Chief Creative Officer and Ian Rogers has jumped over from being CEO of TopSpin to be CEO of this new project, called Daisy.

This is great news for a variety of reasons — I can’t think of two better people to team up on such a project (if you’re unfamiliar with Ian, you should read this brilliant profile in Wired, and then know that many of us who know Ian think that the article wasn’t nearly glowing enough). The fact that these two (and some others who know what they’re doing) are teaming up to work on this project is, by itself, big news.

But those high profile announcements seem to be obscuring some of the other news that came out at the same time about the project, which actually reveals a bit more about where this is actually heading. Since Beats bought failed music service MOG for $14 million, many have been expecting a new version of that with some new paint, but it seems a lot more likely that the purchase was more about buying the licenses, and then building something new from scratch, without having to waste time negotiating. Last month, Reznor had hinted that the music service would add more value beyond what today’s streaming services offer.

One way it may be doing so? By building the whole “connect with fans, reason to buy” concept directly into the service. While Ian left his CEO spot at TopSpin to take this new gig, there are some other TopSpin details related to this. Not only is he remaining the executive chairman of TopSpin, Beats has invested in TopSpin and Topspin is providing infrastructure for the service. TopSpin, of course, powers a bunch of artist websites and services for “direct to fan” efforts. Basically, they enable “CwF+RtB” (and, apparently, have even used one of my own CwF+RtB videos in explaining it to people).

So, if you take the guy who inspired me to come up with that formula in the first place, and pair him with the guy (and the tools) that have come pretty far along the path towards enabling it all… and what do you get? Well, TopSpin itself makes some suggestions:

Our plan is to set the standard for how consumer music services can integrate and benefit artists.

Here’s an example: When Trent Reznor uses Topspin to release music and merch on his website, his products should appear inside the streaming services, where the millions of fans listening to his catalog of songs should have the ability to connect and hear from Trent directly when he has new music, merchandise, and tour dates.

The core of this partnership, then, is a shared belief that streaming services should do a better job helping fans discover artists and connect with them directly to buy merch, tickets and other products. And so, Topspin GoDirect will become the way the Daisy service gets photos, videos and products from artists, and both companies will work together to make sure fans see those products when they listen to songs.

Three years ago, we suggested that this kind of thing was exactly what Spotify was missing: a platform to help artists do much more, both in terms of connecting with fans, but also in enabling new business models. While Spotify has tried to do some of that with its app platform, those haven’t really taken off the way I had hoped. A system built from scratch with that concept in mind, however, gets very interesting very fast.

So you can see a situation where they build a service that actually is good for everyone: fans, musicians and the company itself. That seems like a pretty good deal. True, some of the other services have actually been pretty good for everyone as well, but there are still limitations, which are why there are so many complaints about services.

In the end, execution is everything. If you have a great idea and terrible execution, it won’t matter. So it’s possible that all of this goes nowhere, but it certainly has a lot of the right pieces to make something great. Now, if they figure out some way to bring on Zoe Keating to consult on some of her ideas about how online streaming music could create closer connections between musicians and fans, I think that would just turbocharge the whole damn thing.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: beats, daisy, topspin

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Comments on “A Music Streaming Service That Builds In CwF+RtB? Built By Trent Reznor And Ian Rogers? Sign Me Up”

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Karl (profile) says:

Ian Rogers

The Wired article on Ian Rogers should be required reading for any industry executive (an probably any music fan).

We both grew up in Indiana listening to punk music in the 80’s, and I know first-hand exactly what he’s talking about regarding the recording industry at the time. I’m a bit jealous of him, actually – I’d love to have done as much for both technology and musicians. Guess I should have stuck with programming, instead of dropping out to study music composition…

Anyway, if he’s on board with this project, then you know it’s going to be awesome.

The Real Michael says:

I went and read the Wired article, talking about how difficult it was for Ian to find an alternative to the major label/MTV while in his youth, etc. etc. I conclude that this guy is really on the fans’ side and is railing against the mainstream. Then I checked out TopSpin. First thing I see is a large MTV logo sitting on the front page.


Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Daisy

I have had too many subscription music sites bore me. Now we will get to pay for one that comes complete with commercials for artists merchandise. How very Big Business is that?

This new project has put together a great team. So it will be interesting to see how it does.

And if it doesn’t succeed, I’m sure people will say that music licensing is the issue.

However, I think Sandra has hit upon the bigger problem (other than the fact that I don’t think any music startup should get involved with anything that requires licensing). People have a limited amount of money. They still like music, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into them wanting to spend money on music. Maybe they’ll go to a few shows. But how many t-shirts will they buy?

I love the tiny house movement because it focuses on living in small spaces. And if you live in a small space, you have very little storage room. You just can’t own a lot of things. And while you might still be able to purchase digital items and non-digital experiences, if you are living in a small space, you’re probably also focusing on economical living in general. That means not spending more on anything that you don’t need to spend.

Yes, there is a demographic who will plunk down serious money to go to music festivals, so there are music fans with money. But there are also a lot of music fans without enough money to be able to pay for anything but their non-music bills each month.

How big is that music audience with money? And those with money are also being approach via places like Kickstarter. So the hard core fan might be going there rather than through Topspin.

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