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