Digital music biz superstar Ian Rogers recently announced his move to become the CEO of “Daisy” — a new project that’s being built out of streaming subscription service MOG, which was acquired by Beats Electronics in 2012. Beats, is of course, known for its headphones and for being the brainchild of hip-hop legend Dr. Dre and music executive Jimmy Iovine.
Ian is the former CEO of Yahoo! Music, and more recently ran Topspin — a service that helps artists and labels with direct-to-fan commerce and communications at a relatively low cost. (A free and open source service that provides a similar utility is CASH Music.)
We’re huge fans of Ian Rogers (he’s also a fan of ours), and think he’ll do great things in his new role. Topspin users should rest easier knowing that Ian will remain on the board of directors and serve as executive chairman.
Topspin won acclaim for its clean interface and powerful feature set that makes it easy to sell (or give away) music and merchandise while keeping on top of important fan data. Ian’s move to MOG could mean big things for streaming music, which is powerful in terms of access but is currently limited in revenue and promotional potential for musicians.
The Daisy project also boasts another big name: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, How to Destroy Angels and Hollywood soundtrack fame. Trent will be serving as the company’s Chief Creative Officer. Iovine, for his part, has clear ideas about what’s missing from today’s streaming services. “Our intention is to everything to bring the industry together through a form of curation that doesn’t exist right now,” he said in a statement.
That may very well be true, but we think there are other areas in which the streaming music experience that could be improved — for fans and artists alike. Which is why we’re hoping that Ian’s experience with direct-to-fan technologies could make streaming a more attractive proposition for musicians.
The last twelve months has seen a good deal of criticism around the low payouts on streaming music services like Spotify. This Pitchfork article by Damon Krukowski of Galaxy 500 and Damon and Naomi paints a pretty grim picture of musician earnings from streaming. Our own research into artist revenue streams shows that, while the percentage of income from streaming is very small, it is nonetheless growing. And with the number of paid subscribers to streaming services quadrupling in the past two years, it seems clear that streaming is here to stay. The challenge is to make it work better for creators, particularly musicians and songwriters who may never achieve the mass-market scale of, say, Beyonce.
We’ve often wondered if streaming could be made more effective if Topspin or CASH-type technologies were integrated into the experience. For example: you might click on a track by an artist for whom you have already demonstrated some interest. A small and elegant pop-up might inform you that they are playing in your town the following Tuesday, and provide a link to buy tickets. Maybe there’s a limited edition pink vinyl 7” record available for purchase, or some other digitally unreplicatable item. Then there’s data, of which these services collect a tremendous amount. Data that could be useful to artists for everything from routing tours to marketing. Features like this could help attract more meaningful revenue beyond the fractions-of-a-penny per-play payouts (say that ten times fast).
We’re not suggesting that this is what Ian has in store for the revamped MOG (but if you’re reading this, Ian, maybe give it some consideration?). We also realize that that implementation could prove tricky. Who gets to participate and at what cost? Would the service get a percentage? What about the user experience? Still, as excited as we are about access and discovery on streaming services, we’d love nothing more for the economics to work better for all artists and not just superstars (or their labels).
We are very much looking forward to what Ian can bring to the table in his new position. What do you think needs to happen to make streaming more attractive for musicians and fans?