Topspin’s About-Face: The Complete Details

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Topspin CEO Ian Rogers unveiled a major shift in strategy Wednesday afternoon at New Music Seminar in Los Angeles.

Instead of working with a select group of several thousand, invite-only artists, Topspin is now redialing its approach back towards the masses – in the spirit of startups like Bandcamp, FanBridge, ReverbNation, and Sonicbids.

The unexpected shift means off-the-shelf tools for everyone, regardless of affiliation, resources, existing fanbases or sales volumes.  “By the time SXSW rolls around, anyone will be able to get on board the same software platform that powers Arcade Fire, Linkin Park, Paul McCartney, Trent Reznor, and a host of other direct-to-fan enterprises, for as little as $9.99 a month,” the company indicated.

Sound familiar?  Instead of playing to moneyed artists or major label refugees, Topspin is suddenly diving into an extremely crowded swimming pool.  The first hint of this came last Friday, when Rogers shared bits of his strategy at a very exclusive pre-Grammy party in Beverly Hills.  The event was held at the none-too-shabby Soho House, an ultra-elite hangout for celebrities and the super-rich (we’re not making this up).  This was a closed-door, invite-only (and non-transferrable) event, and press was certainly not invited.

Ironically, the discussion at the get-together was about expanding beyond the higher-end and towards the masses.  And, perhaps breathing life back into the original, ‘ProTools for Music Marketing’ mantra of old.

Fittingly, Topspin is now offering a $5,000, Direct-to-Fan Grant.  The band with the best direct-to-fan plan wins, and judges on the “all star industry panel” include Rick Rubin (co-president of Columbia Records), Marc Geiger (William Morris Endeavor), Richard Jones (manager of the Pixies), Glenn Peoples (Billboard Magazine), Mike King (Berklee Music), and Jennie Smythe (Girlilla Marketing). The winning plan will be announced on the Thursday of SXSW, and the grant is open to anyone – Topspin user or not.  The deadline is March 7th, more at