Topspin flips the music subscription model

Like a side project of revered indie stars, Topspin features former stars from Yahoo Music, Digidesign, and Real Networks taking charge of the changing record industry landscape.

At a Billboard Magazine music industry panel discussion at CES 2008, Topspin's CEO Ian Rogers, then working for Yahoo Music, contributed to the dialogue about the value held by the subscription model for music sales.

In the official Topspin blog, Rogers unveiled some projects the company has been working on behind the scenes, designed to take the subscription model and turn it on its ear. The company is helping build a platform that, in part, allows consumers to subscribe directly to the artist rather than to some music service.

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In addition to being able to sell their own products individually, musical acts can offer "subscriptions" to their entire catalog for a single or recurring fee. The artists Topspin has worked with so far that are offering such subscriptions include Jubilee (ex-Icarus Line, NIN, Queens of the Stone Age), Josh Rouse, and The Dandy Warhols.

While the company is not responsible for the artists' actual Web sites, it provides the back end for them to handle pricing, catalog, metadata, marketing, and analytics. The subscription packages from these three artists, which range from $19-$35 a year, are not limited to strictly digital media. Subscribers to Jubilee receive a 7" record, and Dandy Warhols subscribers get silkscreened posters and the physical CD of the band's newest album when it's released.

Topspin does not have a consumer-facing brand, and makes no claims at being a "marketing services" company. It is a music company firmly rooted in the tech industry, founded by Peter Gotcher, the founder and former chairman/CEO of Digidesign; and Shamal Ranasinghe, formerly of Real Networks, Musicmatch, and Yahoo Music.

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