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Hey all, Yes, I'm in Hawaii on a long-planned family vacation. If I'd have planned it later I'd have come home a day sooner to be at SF MusicTech today! Seeing all the tweets fly by and I'm bummed I'm missing it. We made the decision to close our SF office in June and made the change at the beginning of July. We've been hiring like mad in our Santa Monica office ever since. We have hired 7 people in the past 60 days and have at least 4 open positions currently. Andrew's move is unrelated but adds one more role I need to hire. If you know good people please send them my way (via LinkedIn is probably the best way at the moment). We're on the hunt. We've had a San Francisco office since before I started at the company in April 2008 (the company was founded by Shamal and Peter in 2007). Our engineering, finance, business development and customer support teams were all SF-based. The reason to be there was for the access to the bay area engineering talent pool, but the downside of being there was having the team using the Topspin app (our industry-facing Creative Services team) in Santa Monica and the team building the app in San Francisco made for an inefficient product development process to say the least. As the years went on, it was clear the benefits of having an SF office weren't outweighing the inefficiencies. It was a really difficult decision but I knew in my heart we'd build a better product if we had everyone under one roof. It's already paying off in spades and you'll see some serious differences in Topspin in the coming months as a result. No pivot in business model. We're refining the product and our approach, but nothing worthy of "pivot" at the moment. Some very big things coming up but they're on our same trajectory. Re: the This Week In Music comment -- the real work there is done by This Week In Producer Will Thompson. He does all the hard work. I just show up for 45 minutes and talk! He also produces Pensado's Place, which you should check out if you haven't yet. Niche programming FTW! See everyone back in the office tomorrow morning. ian
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As I told Scott via email I'd prefer if this was a real A/B test with two separate sites load balanced to see which approach (not just widgets, but marketing approach) garners more email addrs and $$. We would probably learn more that way as I agree with the commenters here, it's more about the marketing approach than the tools -- the tools don't make the campaign -- just as you can make a shitty record with ProTools you can run a shitty marketing campaign with Nimbit or Topspin, and if the music doesn't touch people no tool is going to solve the problem. Ben, I agree with what you say but while it's true that most fans buy from iTunes in an absolute number basis many of our artists are finding more profit in the direct-to-fan channel. With my Get Busy Committee experiment Topspin has put 3x the money in our pocket our INgrooves checks have, so even at that level the direct to fan side drives more $$. Even David Byrne/Brian Eno they made more profit on direct to fan than they did through DSPs and physical distro combined. Less units, yes, more profit. Just for fun, a couple Topspin releases from today: Hello from SFO, ian
Toggle Commented May 28, 2010 on The Nimbit vs. Topspin Smackdown at hypebot
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Around the Dial is a good call. Give The People What They Want is a long-time favorite. I'll throw in "Industry Shakedown" by Freddie Foxxx, too: I have nothing at all against Ron but you have to give it to Spoon for the "Agony of Laffitte" b/w "Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now" 7". Oh one more, "Pull My Strings" by Dead Kennedys. ian
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Congrats, Bruce! Great news!
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Hi Bruce, I don't disagree with you at all. I actually think your summary is correct: whatever they do will benefit Apple first, consumer second, and music biz a distant third. I was being intentionally over-optimistic in my post and here's where that comes from: I remember in 2000/2001 when we were post-Napster but pre-iTunes, things seemed pretty dire. MP3s were easy to come by but all ways to buy digital music (Liquid Audio, Mjuice, WMA) were terrible experiences and consumers weren't having it. Pressplay and MusicNet appeared, each with very limited catalogs. We felt what was coming but couldn't see how anyone could get the labels to agree to anything remotely sane. This may seem over-dramatic but I remember a feeling of music being less culturally relevant. I remember looking at my ten year-old daughter and realizing she'd rather spend her allowance on video games or DVDs, and when you add all the options she has for her attention to a flailing industry, I was just imagining music itself becoming niche relative to other entertainment. When iTunes/iPod came along, from the consumer perspective, it felt like a gust of fresh air. They got the labels to agree to something which felt good to consumers, built beautiful devices, did incredible marketing, music was simple and sexy again. White earphones were everywhere. There was a lot of distance between Windows Media + Diamond Rio and the course Apple plotted for us. Imagine if Apple hadn't jumped in and Windows Media or Liquid Audio + Diamond Rio was what we lived the last 10 years with. I'm not sure if that's meaningful to you but I worked closely with those technologies and from my perspective this would have been very ugly. I'm guessing we'd actually be in a far *worse* place from a piracy perspective if Apple hadn't made it at least *convenient*. Remember I helped with Winamp and spent years of my life building a failed iTunes competitor (on top of Windows Media and MusicNet) at Yahoo!. I know as well as anyone all the reasons to dislike Apple. My post was really an admission that while I know all those things and don't disagree with all the reasons to be up in arms about this, as a music consumer who likes shiny things as much as the average Engadget reader there's a certain excitement to this coming age of connected music and I'm happy to know Apple is going to keep doing what they do in our competitive space. Yes of course they are a competitive corporation and are going to put their shareholders above all else. But I appreciate what they've done. When building Yahoo! Music Engine I had every single non-iPod device, Creative, iRiver, Samsung, Toshiba, and SanDisk. I wanted desperately to love them. When we shut down Yahoo!'s subscription service I broke down and bought an iPod. It was a huge admission of defeat. I had engraved on the back of the iPod: "Celebrating the death of Janus, September 2007". Janus was the code name for Microsoft's DRM platform which I'd just spent three years of my life fighting with. The iPod worked. The ecosystem we built did not. When I was at Yahoo! Steve Jobs came to speak to a large group of employees and I was in the audience. He was talking about the dive Apple took while he was away from the company and here's how he summed it up: "We used to say our #1 goal was to make beautiful computers and #2 was to make enough money to keep doing #1. Somewhere along the way Apple got those reversed." I think this corporate strategy is what sets them apart. Sure their game is dominance and they want to win at any cost, but they know fundamentally that delighting consumers is the way to their success. So #1 and #2 on your list are very closely intertwined and Apple knows this probably as well as any company in the world IMHO. You are correct, though, that #3, seeing the music industry succeed, is a VERY distant third and that's why we should all be concerned. ian ps - Brian, not sure what I did to wrong you but if you want to drop me a note and take it up with me in person instead of posting that I'm looking to scam people on message boards please I'd appreciate it. I'm just ian at topspin media dot com.
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I admit to plenty of free shows and music but I also still spend a large amount of my income on music today, just as I have since I was a kid. I buy MP3s from Amazon, subscribe to Emusic and Rhapsody, and at Topspin we have a no-freebies policy so I find myself buying the limited edition products from our artists often (I just tonight watched the McCartney DVD we're selling (it was great), which I paid for with my own $25). Hell, I even dropped $200 on the AC/DC box from Sony. And I pay for shows, too. I bought tickets to see Japandroids last Friday night, to see Earthless and Baroness in SF tomorrow, and to see the "Kidrockers" kids show on Saturday. So while I work in the music biz, I still consider myself a consumer. And I do think it helps give a lot of perspective on what's happening in the biz. Without naming names, there are some execs in the business I've sat with and wondered, "When was the last time you've bought music? You're talking about how 'kids buy music today' but what about you? Are you buying music?" I remember when I was 22 and first moved to LA and was working with folks at a major record company for the first time and realized, "Wait a minute...I care more about your product than you do! You go home at night and watch TV, I go home at night and listen to your albums!" I think there's a lot of truth to what Godin says. Especially when an industry's changing the way ours is, if you're not living it, you have very little chance of predicting consumer behavior. I love music and love buying music. At Topspin we're just building for ourselves as music fans and wannabe musicians the same way the photographers at Flickr did. ian
Toggle Commented Dec 1, 2009 on Seth Godin: Watch The (Music) Money at hypebot
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Hey everyone. Ian from Topspin here. Topspin is a platform for direct-to-fan marketing and retail. Our goal, crazy as it may be, is to be for digital marketing what ProTools is for digital production. I imagine we're probably about as "full featured" and "easy to use" as SoundTools 1.0 was, but it gives us something to grow to be. We're in it for the long haul. It's worth doing. We're doing two things at Topspin: 1) building the platform, 2) working with artists to help them earn revenue and build showcases for what direct-to-fan retail and marketing can be. #2 informs #1 a great deal, too. Apart from that, I try to skate(board) at least once a week (though it usually turns out to be twice a month), ride a bike as my primary mode of transport (in LA, no less), have a wife Julie and two incredible daughters (aged 19 -- at college -- and 3 -- at preschool). I scan my news reader every night before bed and HypeBot is always in the mix. Viva la revolution! ian
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Nov 28, 2009