Ian Rogers is CEO of Topspin, host of This Week In Music, father, husband and life-long record collector / music fan. Unlike Yahoo!’s former CEO, he actually holds a degree in Computer Science but dropped out of graduate school in 1995 to go on tour with Beastie Boys. Ian’s previous company, Mediacode, was acquired by Yahoo! in 2003 and he worked at Winamp parent, Nullsoft, when it was acquired by AOL in May of 1999.
Ian has been a fan, advisory board member and supporter of the Future of Music Coalition for years. As part of our Future of Music Coalition Summer of Love profile series, we sat down with Ian and asked him a few questions:
What’s your first music memory?
My parents and older siblings were and still are passionate music lovers so it’s impossible to pin down the earliest memory but they include: Seeing Linda Ronstadt and Ted Nugent with my dad as a pre-schooler (not at the same time, thankfully), getting a stack of KISS records from my older brother (who thought he’d outgrown them) around the age of five, seeing REO Speedwagon with my mom and sister as a young grade-schooler, and spending my recess sitting on a stump with a Panasonic tape player listening to AC/DC’s High Voltage instead of playing with other kids.
How did you first get involved with the Future of Music Coalition?
As a fan! FMC appeared on the scene at a very important time with a consumer-friendly music manifesto. It reflected many of the same things we had been saying at Nullsoft/Winamp. FMC has remained an important voice for more than 10 years. I was honored when asked to join the advisory board and jumped at the opportunity.
What’s do you think is one of the biggest issues facing musicians today?
There are many and they are very well known (thanks FMC for shining a light on the most important ones with the Artist Revenue Streams research project). One I’ve been focused on lately which is less known surrounds artists’ ability to sell their own tickets the same way they can sell their own merchandise and music in the US. The Internet has helped artists create direct relationships with their fans and as such artists are marketing direct to their fan base on every tour, letting their fans know about their shows via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Despite this, their ability to bundle tickets with their music and merchandise is limited in most US venues. I’m convinced this results in less tickets sold overall and less money for artists. Plus I think we all know the fan experience around buying tickets could be much better. I feel a movement from artists to change this brewing and plan to help. ;-)
What would you tell friends that haven’t donated to the Summer of Love campaign?
I would start by pouring them (and myself) another vanilla mint julep and commenting on the dual guitar harmonies at the end of Chuck Prophet’s “Willie Mays Is Up At Bat” — I mean, what is this, Thin Lizzy? — then I would ask them if they heard about that music industry organization that got all the bad press for suing filesharing fans. You know the one. Yeah, those guys. Then I would say something about how it would be awesome if there was a group that represented the interests of ARTISTS and FANS instead of big (yet shrinking) companies. I’d get them jumping up and down excited about that idea (another mint julep? have you heard this Deathgrips track?!) and then BOOM — “That organization already exists and they need your support. Get your credit card out, buddy.”
What’s your favorite Donna Summer album?
There are so many good ones but I’d have to go with Love to Love You Baby. Moroder invented modern EDM on that record!