Music Marketing – Is Topspin The Answer?

I first became aware of Topspin when Ian Rogers left Yahoo Music earlier this year to become the CEO of this mysterious startup. Some of the suspense has been lifted now that Topspin has come out of stealth beta – but is this the new music marketing model that so many of us have been waiting for?

Better Marketing Or Just More Marketing?

Topspin describes itself as a technology/marketing tools software company which aims to be “platform of choice for many of the great marketing services companies already in existence”. At the moment, they are working with a select few artists such as the Dandy Warhols and Jubilee (comprising members of NIN and Queens of the Stone Age), but plan on expanding to a broader customer base when the initial bugs get ironed out.

The company is based on three core modules, the first of which seems to be a distribution channel – the other two have yet to be announced, but will probably deal with marketing, managment and promotion of music and events.

As it stands at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of difference between Topspin and other online distribution services. However, given the track record of the personnel, I would expect this to evolve into a very interesting and compelling service.

The Music Is Strong In This One

The original idea for Topspin was hatched by Peter Gotcher (Digidesign) and Shamal Ranasinghe (Real Networks, Musicmatch, Yahoo! Music). Ian Rogers is a highly experienced and innovative character too – he ran WinAmp in 1999 after having dropped out of a Computer Science PhD to tour with the Beastie Boys in 1995. He also likes skateboarding, proof of which can be seen on the latest cover of Billboard.

music marketing topspin

So what have they got? Well, Topspin bands get their own ‘digital music store’. Nothing new there – although the platform behind them is very robust. So robust, in fact, that Topspin helped out Nine Inch Nails by stepping in to provide additional bandwidth when demand for the new albums (Ghosts and The Slip) caused the NIN site to go down.

Consolidating The Future of Music Marketing

The payment structure for Topspin artists comes in a variety of flavours; there are prices for single downloads, prices for album and EP downloads, and an option to pay a flat fee for everything the band produce in a year.

However, as Ian correctly points out, online distribution is now a commodity. There are new sites springing up every day where artists can sell mp3s online. What is more important now is having a powerful marketing strategy, and this is where Topspin can set itself apart.

Although the press release on the Topspin site doesn’t give too much away, it certainly provides a glimpse of what might be in store. This space is one to watch.


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