Perhaps the most difficult part about achieving success as a musician is imagining your art as a commercial product. But to anyone who desires a reward for the hard work, such a feat of imagination is a must. Fortunately or unfortunately, it’s a fact that artists who understand the relationship between product and consumer are more likely to stick around and make an impact. Like any product, music must also be marketed, and that’s where Ian Rogers comes in. As the CEO of Topspin Media, Rogers realizes that the forces of good and evil are inherently at work in such a game, and since becoming CEO of the company in 2008, he has strived to persuade musicians away from the dark side with a service that is viable, accessible, and, most importantly, fair to everyone. Topspin Media specializes in direct-to-fan marketing, providing the tools necessary for music makers of every caliber to increase awareness, build relationships with fans, and turn those fans into customers. If you make music, he can help you be heard and make a profit in the process.
But before he found himself at the top of a company whose clientele includes such artists as Arcade Fire, David Lynch, Odd Future, and your friend’s garage band, Rogers got his humble start in digital music during the early ’90s. His résumé reads like a hand-over-hand climb up the dot-com ladder: After working as webmaster for BeastieBoys.com, he moved on to be president of new media at Capitol Records’ Grand Royal label, then founded Mediacode Inc. — the company that basically envisioned the current state of digital music more than a decade ago — and finally became VP and general manager of Yahoo! Music in 2003 before leaving five years later to run Topspin Media. In addition to helping with the dissemination of material and preventing artists from being scammed by middlemen, Rogers also has a few more ideas up his sleeve about this whole thing called “media.” For example, he posits that the next evolution for digital distribution will be the era of trusted brands, in which the present world of nearly infinite niches will spit out a mere handful of Web-transcending brands that we trust to filter out the noise and deliver media custom-tailored to our tastes and personalities. If you’re curious about what else is in store for us in the digital future, check out Rogers when he hosts This Week in Music, live at the Canary Hotel on Saturday, November 5, at 1:15 p.m. as part of New Noise Santa Barbara. Visit newnoisesb.com for ticket info.