“Rock N Roll Doctor, Can I Make A Music Recommendation For You?” - Music Hack Day Fun

Over the weekend programmers, designers, and artists converged in San Francisco for SF Music Hack Day 2013. The goal was progress and pushing boundaries of how technology is used in a weekend of creativity, pressure, and fun.

Ian Rogers (CEO of Daisy) also threw down the gauntlet with his own idea:  a music recommendation system where tunes are recommended by operators or musicians via phone. Powered by the Twilio API and our very own ArtistLink API, Ian’s script allowed fans to receive music recommendations from humans, leave messages for musicians, and listen to unreleased music from Trent Reznor or the Beastie Boys (thanks ArtistLink!). Below are his words.


"I’ve been answering my phone, ‘Rock n Roll Doctor, can I make a music recommendation for you?’ all day, asking people what they’ve been listening to lately and attempting to steer them to something they may like but haven’t heard before. Why?

This weekend was Music Hack Day in SF. I participated along with Team Daisy. I was planning to just pitch in a little on one of my fellow hackers’ projects, but seeing the API demo from Twilio I was inspired to build something small on my own.

Using the Twilio and Topspin’s Artistliink APIs, I scripted a small phone tree:

Option 1: Get a music recommendation (just rings my cell phone)

Option 2: Leave a message for your favorite artist (allows you to choose an artist, leave a message, then get a thank you from the artist and a rare/unreleased track both via phone and text.

I reached out to a couple artists on Saturday afternoon asking for help and both Mike D and Trent Reznor and came through with a drop. Trent included an unreleased track from the upcoming How To Destroy Angels album, too. So there are only two artists on the “leave a message” option. Sorry. That’s what 24 hour hack days are all about!

Give it a try: (310) 299-8756

To get the free tracks, choose option 2 from the main menu, leave a message, then hit #. Your free track comes from there.

The Twilio APIs are awesome and so easy to use even I could pull this together, and the Topspin Artistlink APIs give access to content uploaded from verified artists (very useful and cool).

There were a ton of hacks at Music Hack Day this weekend, every last one of them cooler than mine. Check out the full list here: https://www.hackerleague.org/hackathons/music-hack-day-sf-2013/hacks


For a 3rd party perspective, check out this article on Hypebot.


(Source: fistfulayen.com)

SF Music Hack Day 2013 Hackday ian rogers Trent Reznor NIN Beastie Boys

Future Sound Presentation: Nov. 2012

Hello.  My name is Ian Rogers and I’m the CEO of Santa Monica-based Topspin.  We build software that helps artists grow their fan base and make money.  Thanks to Bill, Antony, and all of Billboard for bringing us all together and for the opportunity to speak today.

I’ll start today with a theme I first started talking about in 2006, Media 1.0 vs. 2.0, then discuss what I believe the key innovations of the last fifteen years are as they relate to artists, and finally describe the characteristics of the new value chain that’s emerged and what kind of companies are best situated to serve artists in this new value chain.  This is a presentation of ideas, not an advertisement for Topspin, but at the end I’d like to spend thirty seconds making an announcement closely related to these ideas.  

I’m forty years old.  I grew up in Media 1.0.  Distribution was limited and largely controlled by huge companies.  As the industry grew, we evolved from buying vinyl at a local record store to buying our CDs at Best Buy and Wal-Mart.  We learned about new music from FM radio, nationally-distributed magazines, and MTV.  

The result was blockbuster success driven by blitzkrieg marketing, peaking in 1999.

The Internet brought us a new paradigm.  Getting music to fans no longer required manufacturing and distribution of physical products.  Digital file sharing led the way to digital stores, where music could be infinitely replicated and downloaded.  Every artist could relatively cheaply and easily find their way to store shelves.

A few specific innovations bear mention.  In the Media 1.0 world, an artist was reliant on mass media to let consumers know about new product, tours, or to build up their persona.  The Internet has brought countless ways for fans to connect directly to the artists they love, from email lists to social media.  Take a look at FanPageList.com.  The number of direct connections between artists and fans is astounding.  Each of these connections, technically unavailable just a few years ago, allow artists to disseminate news without needing mass media gate keepers.  Once they’ve made the fan connection, they control the means of marketing and communication to a greater degree than they did in the past.

Piracy gets blamed but many studies have shown unbundling has been the primary driver of lost revenue in the music business.  What used to cost $18 has now become $0.99 or in many cases, free.  I’m increasingly convinced when people buy digital music the value in the transaction for them is in convenience and curation, not the digital music itself.

But the music has been rebundled in new, higher-value packages.  Where we used to visit a different retailer for each type of product, fans have come to expect everything an artist offers to be available on an artist’s Web site, and have shown a willingness to pay for high-value items including tickets, vinyl, and collectibles.  Fans are generous when it comes to direct patronage and value that direct connection to an artist.  

Beyond just the unbundling, the act of music listening has moved to a fundamentally different point in the discovery process.  Consider the funnel as your potential audience graduates from not knowing you exist to being a paying customer.  When I was growing up, the act of listening to recorded music was firmly in the “paying customer” strata; if I wanted to hear an album my options were to borrow it from a friend, wait for it to come on the radio, or buy it.  Today, the act of listening is firmly at the “awareness” strata.  Customers know if they want to hear something, they can.  Via YouTube, downloads, or services like Spotify.  Music has become “no purchase necessary”.  It would be impossible to overstate the implications of this shift, and we’re only at the beginning of this shift as an industry.

As a result of these fundamental changes, we’re going to see more organic success driven by fan passion.  Mumford and Sons seemed like an anomaly?  What do you have to say about Lumineers following fast on their heels?  How about Odd Future going from hanging around the Supreme skate shop on Fairfax in LA to MTV’s Best New Artist after releasing more than 10 records via Tumblr (not even available on iTunes)?  Or Seattle’s Macklemore, who has been growing his “out of nowhere” success organically for twelve years.  

The physics of Media 2.0 state the quality of the music and its ability to touch people is worth more than blitzkrieg marketing.  Unlimited consumer choice also means that “pretty good” is not good enough to win (“the difference between an 8 and a 10 is the difference between failure and success” - Eric Galen, Music 180) but when you have a 10 you can take it all the way with less investment than in the past.

As Al Teller said, “There are two people who matter in the music business, the artist and the fan.  The rest of us are in the way.  We need to either provide value or get out of the way.”  Today’s value chain takes artists from ideas to funding to development to aggregation and distribution to data about an artist and their music to marketing to consumer applications and retail out to fans.  There are two layers, one for platforms providing tools for everyone and another for the service layer where individual attention is given to specific artists and projects.  All of us “in the way” fit into one or (usually) a couple places along this value chain.

But none of us solve the artist’s (or fan’s) needs end-to-end.  It’s interesting to consider where the incumbent scale players (major labels) are playing today.  They only fill a couple of roles in this new value chain, and only at the service layer.  

In the Media 1.0 context, major companies were gate keepers to each step in this value chain.  As an artist, you would give up rights to get access and support at every step along your path.  Recording music in expensive studios, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing cost significant money artists didn’t have and big companies were needed to risk the capital to provide basic access to the value chain.

In the Media 2.0 world everyone can get basic access at every step in the value chain without much capital risk and without giving up any of their rights.  Access to the tools has been democratized.  

But this by no means amounts to success.  Artists need experts in each of these areas to help them succeed.

In many ways this is the most exciting part of what the Internet has done.  It’s given artists leverage to choose the right partners under the right deals.  The conversation changes from “I’m going to make you a star” to “I’m going to add value beyond what you could do on your own in this specific way.”  Artists get to say to companies in the value chain: Provide value or no thank you.

So, what will the next scale player in Media 2.0 look like?  I believe they will solve the platform line of this value chain end-to-end (or most of it).  There are companies all along this line today, but the space is extremely fragmented.  Over time, these functions will consolidate into a single platform capable of servicing all artists but identifying content which resonates with fans and helping get it to the next step in the process.

Topspin fits into a few places in the value chain today: aggregation and distribution, media data, marketing, and retail.  But it’s just one piece of what an artist needs, the direct-to-fan marketing and commerce component.  

Often artists come to us with many pieces solved and they’re just looking for the direct-to-fan component, but increasingly artists are coming much earlier in the process and looking for an end-to-end solution.  We work with literally hundreds of companies to this end (and will continue to) but we wanted to be able to offer artists a single solution where they know everyone is excited to work together and will all collaborate on a plan to maximize fan growth and revenue for the artist.  We’re extremely excited to announce today a collaboration between Topspin, fan-funding platform Pledge Music, distribution and artist services powerhouse INgrooves Fontana, merchandise company Firebrand, and musician business tools Artist Growth bringing artists the most comprehensive suite of services available along the Media 2.0 value chain.  If you’re interested in taking advantage of this new set of partnerships, please visit TopspinMedia.com and click Creative Services to get in touch with us.

Thanks!  See y’all soon.

Future Sound education ian rogers music marketing

Ian interviews Chuck D at New Noise

Last week Topspin CEO Ian Rogers attended the New Noise Festival in Santa Barbara. There he discussed one of the industry’s most popular and pressing topics with Public Enemy’s Chuck D: What is technology (namely the Internet) doing to the music biz? Chuck’s answer? 

“Either you get on top of technology or technology will get on top of you.” 

Chuck and Ian’s discussion centered largely around using technology to improve experiences around music. Ian took the Topspin perspective of making technology work for better for the artist, and Chuck D emphasized the importance of artists making their chosen technologies work for their fans. Whether it be the fans being able to choose what they consume from enormous libraries of content, or artists making additional and exclusive content available directly from a band’s website, technology has empowered the fan and artist to dictate the channels of release. And success means getting it right for both.

Chuck D said it best:

“I was asked the other day…what’s in your top ten? What are you listening to? The moment they made the mp3 player it gave you the ability to put more than 1000 in the palm of your hand. So it’s not about ‘what you’re listening these days’, it can be ‘what are you not listening to.’ …So really what it is, is that people’s individual’s programming space is harder to crack.”

Well said. It’s become much harder for outsiders to force individuals what to listen to just by controlling the channels of release. And it’s now much easier for artists to give fans the content they want, when and where they want it. So what does that mean for the future, Chuck?

“I think that this is the most beautiful era of music for the artist and the participant there has ever been.”


ian rogers this week in music Public Enemy New Noise Festival Chuck D Internet music marketing

Beyond Homesteading: Direct-to-Fan, Americana, and the newest addition to the Topspin Family, ArtistLink

September 17 - Press Release

[The below is the text of my keynote from the Americana Music Conference, Nashville, TN, September 14th, 2012 - ian]

Hello. My name is Ian Rogers and I’m the CEO of a company called Topspin.  We build software to help you grow your fan base and make money.  I’ve been working with artists online since the early 90s both directly and via stints at Winamp, AOL, and Yahoo! Music.

I’m from Indiana and grew up listening to what we today call “Americana” — in my house it was just called “music” and was played by my parents alongside everything from Hendrix and Sam & Dave to Bob Seger and ZZ Top to Talking Heads and Husker Du.  Thankfully my parents schooled me in the fundamentals, from Hank Williams and Jimmy Rodgers to Townes Van Zandt and John Prine, and my love for roots american music has grown on its own.  I feel like the luckiest person on the planet to get to bring my two loves, music and technology, together professionally.  Thanks so much for listening to what I have to say.  I hope you find it interesting and useful.

Today I’d like to talk to you about:

  1. Why the Internet should, can, and with your help will grow Americana’s audience
  2. Why Direct to Fan is an important retail channel for Americana audiences
  3. A new wave of tools coming which will deliver you exposure and distribution, not just homesteads (aka “places on the web to stick your music”)

There’s no question the Internet has disrupted the music business over the past 15 years.  Let’s be honest, there is much for the greater industry to lament as the CD has been unbundled and revenue has fallen.  But there are two key innovations the Internet has brought to music and I’d argue Americana should benefit from these innovations disproportionately, in particular much more than the “mainstream commercial country” category.

Read More

Americana ama topspin ian rogers

Topspin Music and Tech Meetup in Nashville

Join Topspin and our Americana Music Association Conference partners for a cold beer and conversation, Friday, 9/14 from 5:30p-7:30p on the Mezzanine of the Sheraton Hotel Downtown Nashville. Meet some folks, talk some shop, drink some beer. Repeat. Conference registration is NOT required to attend, so no excuses. Here is a list of our partners for the event: Stageit, MusicSynk, Bandzoogle, The Uprising Creative, Girlilla Marketing, Mobile Roadie, and Outside the Box Music.

Please RSVP here: http://t.opsp.in/f0Coo

Topspin is also proud to have produced the "Digital Slate" of panels for our good friends at the AMA Conference - including the business keynote and a very special “masterclass” by our head honcho, Ian Rogers.

To learn more about the conference, purchase registration or support this incredible organization, please visit www.americanamusic.org

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SXSW + Topspin: Panel Voting Part 4 - Ian’s views on Games, Mobile + Discovery in Music

Curious what Ian Rogers thinks about music relating to games, mobile and discovery? Here’s your chance to vote his panels into the 2013 SXSW Conference. Read all the options below. 

Title: The Music Games: A New Chapter for Artists & Fans

Description: Fantasy sports engage 50 million global players 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These players don’t merely watch sports; they examine stats, track new talent, follow multiple games and thus relate to their favorite sport in a more meaningful way. Fantasy sports brought about a massive shift in the fan experience by creating an active, rather than passive, form of participation. In this panel, five industry experts will discuss how and why music makes traditional game play more fun, and how and why games make the discovery and sharing of music more fun.


Organizer: Marc Ruxin TastemakerX

Vote here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/2282

Title: Enhancing the Mobile Music Experience

Description: Two of the great side-effects of the current smartphone boom are the big gains in the number of mobile music consumers as well the increased appetite for music related apps. However, with more and more music fans turning to their mobile devices to listen to, learn about their favorite artists and share their experiences, it becomes increasingly important for app builders and developers to not only drive fan engagement but also to help fans find the information they are looking for via an elegant and simple user interface. It also means “mobile” as a distinct entity will become even more important for artists and their teams and will start to demand more expertise and partnerships.


Organizer: Shaun Eidson BandPage

Vote here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/6614

Title: Now & Next: Tech for Crossplatform Music Discovery

Description: Today more than ever, a myriad of old and new media platforms are available to help consumers dig through the clutter and discover new music and emerging artists at their fingertips, whenever and however they choose. This panel will discuss the platforms and technologies that enable these rich, niche, customized and consumer-oriented music discovery experiences available from big media, niche and start-up providers. The panel will also discuss what’s next from the technology and consumer-experience sides in music discovery.


Organizer: Jaimen Sfetko Text100

Vote here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/5027

topspin sxsw ian rogers mobile games discovery music