Beats Electronics, the company founded by Dr Dre and Interscope boss Jimmy Iovine, yesterday stepped up its plans to launch a new digital music platform by announcing that it had recruited Ian Rogers, currently boss of direct-to-fan company Topspin, to lead the new venture.
Beats, which also counts technology maker HTC as a shareholder, and which was previously best known for its Dre branded headphones, moved into streaming music by acquiring US-based service MOG last July. Then last month Trent Reznor, who had announced an alliance with Beats in October, told The New Yorker that he was involved in developing a brand new digital music platform with the Dre/Iovine company with the provisional name of Daisy.
And it is that new in-development service that Rogers has been brought in to run, though he will also head up MOG in the interim too. Daisy will operate as a standalone company under the Beats umbrella, of which Rogers will be CEO. He will report into Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine and COO Luke Wood, and will work alongside Reznor, who has the title Chief Creative Officer, from the firm’s Santa Monica HQ.
Rogers, who was GM of Yahoo! Music before joining Topspin in 2008, has enjoyed a high public profile as leader of the direct-to-fan business, and of the emerging direct-to-fan market at large. He will not completely break his ties with the company by taking the new job with Daisy. Beats is making an investment into Topspin, Daisy will look to integrate with the sell-through platform, and Rogers will remain on the Topspin board as Executive Chairman.
Daisy, of course, will enter an increasingly crowded marketplace when it reaches the streaming music market later this year, even if it will, presumably, take over MOG’s existing customer base. Last month Reznor spoke, as most people involved in streaming music services do these days, about the importance of ‘discovery tools’, indicating that he was confident the Beats service would have some USPs in helping users navigate its catalogue of music.
Though arguably the integration of Topspin services will be a more interesting differentiation – and one that may placate those artists who like to moan about the small royalties they see from the streaming sector. While for major rights owners streaming music is becoming a pretty good revenue stream, for individual artists the potential of Spotify et al has always seemed more as a promotional and fan engagement platform, though no streaming company to date has really developed that potential.
Confirming his company’s Daisy plans and Rogers’ appointment yesterday, Iovine told CMU: “What’s missing from the digital music landscape is a cultural context. We need to bring an emotional connection back to the act of music discovery. With Trent and now Ian we have the right team in place to do it”.
Meanwhile Luke Wood added: “For Ian, innovation and disruption is a concept he has mastered – he is able to instinctively identify the opportunities for growth and improvement that exist in the digital music space better than anyone I have ever met and he knows what it takes to win. There is no one better for this role”.
While Rogers himself said: “After years of fighting and uncertainty, it’s now undeniable all the world’s music will be available on every device by just clicking play. However, the current streaming experiences aren’t good enough. They aren’t good enough for fans, who need it to be easier to find music they love. And they aren’t good enough for artists, who want to grow their audiences and make money. This is the opportunity I’ve been working toward my entire career”.
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