At first glance, Ian Rogers doesn’t look like the CEO of a cutting-edge music technology company. He has long blond hair and tattoos on his fingers, is an avid skateboarder, and loves hip-hop music. Rogers happens to be one of the music industry’s brightest visionaries and one of the most passionate people I’ve spoken to regarding the future of music and marketing.
He runs the Los Angeles based company Topspin Media, a direct-to-fan marketing and retail software company founded by Peter Gotcher and Shamal Ranasinghe in 2007. Rogers joined the company in 2008, the same year Topspin was named Indie Visionary of the Year by Billboard Magazine. Prior to working at Topspin, Rogers was the GM of Yahoo Music for five years. In the 90s he managed the Beastie Boys and eventually became the President of New Media for their label, Grand Royal.
Rogers practices what he preaches: the direct-to-fan CEO is also direct-to-critics. He is not afraid to defend his company on message boards, in person, and on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and blogs. He recently interrupted his family vacation in Hawaii to explain the company’s decision to shut down the San Francisco office.
I caught up with Rogers to discuss the Topspin platform and its popularity with over 4,000 artists, which includes diverse acts such as Odd Future, Drive-By Truckers, Paul McCartney, Blitzen Trapper, Neon Indian, Sigur Ros, Lil’ Wayne, and Gillian Welch, to name a few.