Beats Just Hired Ian Rogers to Head Its New Music Service…

It’s called ‘Daisy,’ and it’s going to be helmed by now-former Topspin CEO Ian Rogers.  That’s the official word from Beats Electronics cofounder Jimmy Iovine, who shared early details on the expanded music service in a press conference with Rogers and Beats CEO Luke Wood.

And what will the petals of Daisy look like, exactly?  The conference lacked concrete details, but it sounded like an expanded and modified subscription play based on the just-acquired MOG.  Rogers will oversee the direction, vision and strategy for the initiative, while also becoming CEO of MOG itself.  “We have an opportunity to create a trusted brand in music,” Rogers said.

“To be honest, we’ll release the product when it’s ready, but we’re looking at the second half of this year.”

What happens next at Topspin is anyone’s guess, though this is an obvious signal that significant changes may lie ahead. Earlier, whispers pointed to a certain level of investor agitas around the once-hyped Topspin, and even steps by existing investors to reduce their exposure on this property (Rogers denied those rumors).  All of which could translate into a modified leadership structure ahead.

Actually, Rogers stressed that he isn’t leaving Topspin, but you know how this game is played. “I’ll remain Executive Chairman and remain a member of Board [at Topspin],” Rogers stated.  “We’re also announcing today that Beats is making a strategic investment in Topspin, so it means great things for Topspin as well.”

Across town at Daisy’s Santa Monica headquarters, Rogers will report directly to Iovine and Wood (Trent Reznor is also in the mix as an executive).  But the challenge is no less daunting: Rogers will be trying to create a game-changing service for fans, and effectively compete with Spotify, Deezer, iTunes, YouTube, and maybe even the Pandoras and Songzas of the world. “Right now, these things are all utilities,” Iovine dismissed.

“It’s give me your credit card, here’s 12 million songs, good luck.”

But is it really that crappy out there?  Spotify seems to have 5 million very happy subscribers; this isn’t cable TV.  Which means, these are people that aren’t clammoring for new service, which also means Daisy will have to win with dramatically better offerings, more celebrity sheen, better sound quality, and perhaps more attractive product tie-ins.  Remember, it happened in headphones…

Iovine stressed that sound quality would be a major aspect of the service.  “We have an entire generation that was brought up on sound being inferior, and sound is the only conduit for emotion that we have.  We’ve had ten very bad years in the audio industry.  So we want the best possible quality, and it will have global scale,” Iovine relayed.  “So it will be a balance of those things.”

We’ll have to wait for more details, and honestly, the team may be sorting these details out as we speak. Rogers noted that this will be mobile first, then feature a migration to the desktop.  “We have MOG, but our goal is to take it to a broader audience,” Rogers continued.

And pricing? Woods merely pointed to a desire to build the “greatest music service in the world,” a creation that will be “relatively price insensitive.”  That may sound fantastical, though it was also the ‘pipe dream’ that informed the ultra-successful Beats launch, a brand that often fetches several hundred dollars a pair.

More as it emerges.

25 Responses

    • Visitor

      iovine + morris = which was a response to’s biggest IPO in history (at the time). how’d that work out? What about Spiral Frog? How’d that work out?

      • jw

        I’m no Iovine apologist by any means, but you’ve got to give the guy some amount of credit for going out on a limb so early on. He was always thinking forward, & the successful companies of today owe a great deal to both the successful & unsuccessful start-ups of the last 10 or 15 years.

        Spiral Frog was before it’s time… the labels weren’t ready for it, ISPs weren’t ready for it, & consumers weren’t ready for it. They were doomed from the start because of the proprietary file format & the loads of DRM, but even as great as Spotify’s software is, it would’ve failed, too, if it had tried to launch under the same conditions & in the U.S. But because Spiral Frog pounded on the door for so long, it allowed for companies like Spotify & Mog & Rdio to launch when the stars finally aligned.

        There are so many forces at work, I have a hard time holding tech start-ups that don’t get off the ground against the people behind them.

  1. Visitor

    “Iovine stressed that sound quality would be a major aspect of the service”

    Yesterday, I saw two teenage girls sitting in the rain, listening to music from a phone.

    The sound was bad beyond belief — everything between 2 and 2.1 kHz or so was rolled off 🙂 — but they really, really enjoyed it!

    Good luck, topspin.

    • Visitor

      …and that would be everything except the 2-2.1 range…

      How do you edit messages on this site?

      • paul

        You need to be logged in, but just write the new comment you want, I’ll kill the old ones.


        • Visitor

          Thank you, Paul. Guess I should register.

          I would miss the Visitor vs. Visitor discussions, though.

  2. jessmurphey

    Ian Rogers, Iovine, Dre and Reznor. This is going to be innntersting!

    • cramerbob

      I agree – anything with Ian, Iovine, and Reznor involved should be very interesting. Congrats Ian! – Bob

  3. Blastjacket

    Wisdom from Seth Godin in today’s mailbox;

    “I might not know about your better, because the world is so noisy I can’t hear you.

    I might not believe it’s better, because, hey, people spin and exaggerate and lie. Proof is only useful if it leads to belief.

    The perceived cost of switching (fear, hassle, internal selling and coordination, money) is far higher than your better appears to be worth.

    Your better might not be my better. In fact, it’s almost certainly not.”

  4. Apologetically Anonymous

    On the one hand, I congratulate Ian. It’s satisfying to see good things happen to good people.

    On the other hand, I don’t get it; this is exactly the kind of position he’s publicly eschewed in the past. Label headaches, suffocating content costs, territory restrictions… why would he want a job that entails everything he’s historically loathed? If it’s just a matter of big check vs. small check, that’s all good — do what you’ve gotta do. But I don’t know Ian to be a “money” guy, so this is a real head-scratcher.

    • Birdie

      Ian was obviously getting booted by the VC’s as Topspin was flat

      no one leave a great company with big upside – not for beats

      so you want to go out like Jeff Price and unemployed?

      this is a good gig, you take it

      • Apologetically Anonymous

        Not sure we can conclude he was pushed out. Anyone investing with Ian would know from the start that he’s a visionary, long-haul kind of guy.

        But whether his departure was voluntary isn’t the point. He’s one of the most employable people in digital media; why take the Daisy gig, one so antithetical to his constitution? If it were just a matter of money, he could find a sizable check anywhere he wants. Has he come to the conclusion that the ceiling for Topspin (and perhaps DIY services on the whole) is just too low for him? Has money taken on greater importance for him, and perhaps this was the biggest check available? He certainly doesn’t OWE anyone an explanation, but it’s hard not to ask these questions when one of the industry’s most vocally anti-label execs jumps back into the gauntlet.

        • Birdie

          I’m not sure Rogers really had that many options.

          in realtity Topspin is/was mostly hype, but not a financial success.

          not a win in other words.

      • Birdie 2

        Ian is a good guy, but bills were not being paid at Topspin and labels were starting to threaten enhanced means to collect.

        This is a good way to pump $ into Topspin and give him a graceful exit.

    • Visitor

      Beats is not Interscope. And Mog is not beats. And Daisy isn’t any of the above. Ian took the CEO job at Daisy. It’s a start up where he’s going to continue doing the most cutting edge shit possible. Couldn’t be a more logical next step.

      • Apologetically Anonymous

        Start-up or not, any service with on-demand playback requires major label licenses. And with that comes all of the label headaches and restrictive bulls*t that drove Ian to leave Yahoo and start Topspin in the first place.