Each week Topspin’s CEO, Ian Rogers, and VP of Product and Marketing, Bob Moczydlowsky (Bob Moz), have been doing live webcasts with interactive chat for current and prospective Topspin users. Usually it is the ‘Ian and Bob Show’, but they often have guest hosts or others making quick appearances. It is a great way to get to virtually meet the Topspin team , hear the latest news and announcements from the management team, and be able to ask questions directly via the chat.
Friday May 6, 2011 11a PT
Broadcasting from Topspin HQ in Santa Monica, CA
Ian Rogers (C.E.O.), w/ Brad Barrish (Sales/Artist Relations), Jason Spitz (Director of Marketing) and a special guest appearance by Parker Todd Brooks (Pro Services).
Watch the webcast via the archive.
News & Announcements
Without their resident platform cheerleader, Bob Moz, there were wasn’t much discussion on the new features we are all waiting for except that things are getting closer for the new streaming player (5/23), the new Facebook store (very, very soon), the new email functionality (making fast progress).
RCRD DEALS – a RCRDLBL and Topspin Partnership
RCRDLBL and Topspin have partnered together and created a weekly music deals web site/service called RCRD DEALS. It is related to the email opt-in at the end of the purchase flow for music-related deals (which can be turned off by the artist if you don’t want your fans to be presented with it). Not surprisingly, a lot of people sign-up for this Topspin mailing list and Topspin has been trying to figure out how to put this list to use. Yesterday was the first time Topspin sent out a message to that list. Topspin only plans to send out to that list when they have a really, really, great deal on a great product, at the most weekly. The deal this week is a Band of Horses deal for $49.00. This site could be “dangerous” for the bank account as the pricing seems unbelievable for some really well put together premium packages and products.
The Music Biz Weekly Podcast – Interview with Ian Rogers
Episode eight of The Music Biz Weekly, a weekly podcast co-hosted by Michael Brandvold (@michaelsb) and Brian Thompson (@thornybleeder), featured Ian as a guest in a very lively 40 minute long show. “We had an amazing discussion with Ian on social media, music marketing, and of course the Topspin direct-to-fan marketing platform.” said Brian, about the episode.
I listened to it and it was a great discussion giving a lot of details about Topspin as well as examples of artists using Topspin at all levels. Also a bit of a discussion on making the time to connect with your customers and prospective customers in a personal way. It can win customers for life when you make yourself available to them.
Special Guest: Brad Barrish (West Coast Sales/Artist Relations)
This week Ian introduced us to Brad Barrish who works in sales and artist relations, mostly on the West Coast. Brad has been with Topspin for about 2 years and is the staff person who does the weekly WebEx demos. Brad’s weekly demos are done live and are limited to up to 25 attendees, which allows for an interactive discussion after Brad finishes the scripted part of the demo. It is open to anyone and is a great way to learn about the service, to learn how other artists are using Topspin, and get your question answered by someone with deep knowledge of the platform.
Brad’s primarily responsible for getting new business going, focused on the West Coast. Ian asked what’s the biggest challenge for bands to understand direct-to-consumer, Brad said the biggest challenge is getting their head around how the platform works. Getting them to understand that is not magic. That it takes time — especially to do the email acquisition and awareness up-front.
Forecasting Before Selling via Topspin
Ian and Brad discussed a great tool they use to forecast campaigns they do with artists. Topspin came up with a spreadsheet, which is available to anyone, that takes all the variables such as costs and pricing and figures out what the projected margins. It also helps with estimating potential sales based on social reach and size of email list. Typically the biggest impact is having a larger and up-to-date email list. Forecasting Before Selling via Topspin
Membership (VIP) Product
They also discussed the membership features of the Topspin platform. Artists of all sizes can use these features. Big, big artists like Linkin Park, but also smaller artists like Jim Noir. A misconception is that fan clubs are only for major artists. The truth is that there are a lot of things you can do even at the smaller artist level. Brad is very interested in working with smaller artists to explore the membership features and encourages smaller bands that are interested in exploring this to reach out to Topspin. The feature lets you “gate” products and chat behind the membership, allowing an artist to super-serve their biggest fans. Artists at all levels can take advantage of this by just getting creative with connecting with their more active and avid fans. You can bundle the membership with anything. It can be free of charge with the purchase of an album or other piece of merchandise.
Ian and Brad discussed what artists are doing with Topspin ticketing. Brad said that artists find it very appealing to be able to bundle merchandise with the tickets and that they can offer tickets for lower fees than conventional sources. Brad reminded everyone that you can still work with Topspin ticketing even if your shows are done via another major ticketing agency. The data collected via ticketing is very valuable to the artist. The iPhone/iPad app is free. The showed a great example from Matisyahu. Topspin ticketing is self-service so you can use it to sell tickets to small shows, even living room concerts. You can even have Topspin pay promoters directly.
Topspin just released a new step-by-step how-to video on how to create tickets in Topspin.
Topspin Community Q&A
Q: Facebook store?
A: Still working on the FB store, more updates coming soon
Q: Do you guys handle every aspect of handling the money from taking ticket money to issuing refunds?
A: Yes, our customer service dept can handle doing refunds according to our refund policy and Terms of Service.
Q: Question about the new streaming player. It only shows two tracks with the scroll bar. Can it be tweaked so you can see all of the tracks listed, like the old player?
A: Not yet, but the revised version of this player is targeted to go live on Monday May 23. Not sure if that specific feature will be part of that week’s release, yet.
A: Yes, Topspin does PayPal in most circumstances.
Q: How do you pay promoters in foreign currencies?
A: If you are selling tickets/merchandise in foreign currency and Topspin drops the cash into a bank account in that currency, then they pay from that account. This avoids the conversion fees that you’d pay in both directions.
Q: News on accepting Brazilian currency?
A: No news, yet. But it is definitely on the list.
Q: I’ve been researching Topspin for a while and you guys are great, but I’ve heard sometimes it takes a while for merchandise to ship out, how do you guys deal with frustrated customers?
A: It should not take longer than next day if the merchandise is in stock. Topspin’s fulfillment house ships within 24 hours. If you are handling fulfillment, then they’ll redirect the customer to you for response. However, Topspin has probably the largest customer service (fan services) department in the business and is prepared to properly handle and resolve these issues to the customer’s satisfaction.
Q: Is it possible that TOPSPIN might connect with Flavors.me, the web aggregator? (i.e. Bandcamp and SoundCloud are currently integrated services)
A: No definitive plans yet. But Topspin has been speaking to Flavors.me.
Q: I have an artist who is getting lots of YouTube love for her single, what is the best way to grab those fans using her Topspin account? I have a link to her Topspin integrated VIRB site with an email for media widget on it, any other ideas?
A: This is a timely question since Topspin ran into this very issue with the Beastie Boys this past week. They weren’t sure on what they best way to move people from YouTube over to the artists site/pre-sale/store.
Q: So do we have to design our products, or can you guys do something like district lines where you take it through the development and production process?
A: [Topspin] does not develop or produce your products. But we help you sell them, and we have partnerships with companies [like PAID Inc. or Veoba] who can design & produce merchandise for you.
Q: What is the commitment with TopSpin like? Can you cancel at anytime or is it a binding thing or…? is it exclusive as well?
A: You can cancel any time you want. Not exclusive. If you cancel your account, we keep your data for 90 days if you want to reinstate it.
Q: Do you support school bands?
A: We’d be open to working with school bands. Have them check out our website and email us if they want to discuss.
Q: My legal team will only let me work with companies that are registered. Do you guys have a CA business license or what?
A: We are totally legit and on the up and up.
Submit Your Questions for Next Week’s Webcast
Upcoming Music-Related Conferences and Events
- Music Hack Day San Francisco – Topspin is hoping to help build a buy button that is controlled by the artist and not tied to a specific platform. That could live on a blog, in streaming radio players, YouTube, etc. Topspin plans to build it as an independent project and work with others in the music tech community in a collaborative effort.
- NARM 2011 Convention – May 9-12 – Los Angeles, CA – Bob, Jason and Andrew Mains will be there this year. Jason will be part of the panel “Product Managers: Get Naked – Part 1 – Getting Back To Marketing Fundamentals in the Music Industry” from 3-5pm on Wednesday May 11. Andrew Mains, Topspin’s VP Artist and Label Relations and Services, also appears on that panel for “Part 3: What Gets Measured, Get Managed”
- Great Escape – Brighton, UK – Ian plans to be there with Topspin co-founder Shamal Ranasinghe, Co-founder of Topspin.
Each week Topspin archives these webcasts on their site. You can check them out here.
The Clash – This week Ian shared the “London Calling” 12″ which featured the dub version of “Armagideon Time” which I never knew existed. London Calling was a huge album for my brother and I during our formative geeking out over music junior high-school years. I still listen to the whole album at least a few times a month. My favorite from that album, beyond the obvious “London Calling”, is “Death or Glory“. I never got a chance to see The Clash or even Joe Strummer live. But I did catch Big Audio Dynamite once, but it was the mid 90′s and they were playing a street festival in Chicago (NortHalsted Market Days), not their best show. Which is a great reason to remind you to go out and see live music whenever you can.
Jon Black – Before the webcast started I spotted the Topspin’s Weekly Free Music Friday blog post that Jason Spitz puts out, which has graciously featured some Music Geek Services clients such as Sloan and artists on The Movings Label. An artist that was featured in this week’s post that I have seen in the Topspin community was Jon Black. He’s giving away a digital 45 which sounds wonderful. I’m listening to it right now as I finish editing this blog post. Go listen and download the songs from Jon Black right away.
Music Geek Services is an artist services company based in Chicago and Nashville. Headed by brothers Jay and Chandler Coyle, Music Geek Services is a Topspin-certified marketer that specializes in helping artists achieve deeper connections with their fans through digital media. We provide a full suite of artist services including web development and design, Topspin platform consulting and execution, social media consulting, project management, and full-service artist management.
We have worked with Sloan, Barenaked Ladies, The Zambonis, The Odds, The Movings Label, Walter & Wendell, Dick Prall, Mike Evin, Dolly Varden, Steve Dawson, The Carter Administration, Broken: a Musical, and Callann Lane.