When Transom Capital Group announced the purchase of Topspin Media and its integration with the recently combined force of BandMerch and Cinder Block, the question of what would become of Topspin's services was unclear. With arguably the strongest service, ArtistLink, staying with Beats Music, would a faltering platform have much of a future? Acccording to CEO Jason Greene and VP of eCommerce Nic Seitz, Topspin customers have plenty to look forward to.
A Quick Take on the Future of Topspin
I spoke yesterday with CEO Jason Greene and VP of eCommerce Nic Seitz about the future of Topspin Media and its role in the combined entity now made up of Topspin, BandMerch and Cinder Block. This combination will soon be renamed but the Topspin Media name will be retained and Topspin will move forward as the ecommerce piece of the puzzle with Nic Seitz overseeing all ecommerce for the company and leading Topspin's renewal.
I use the term "renewal" because, outside of ArtistLink, Topspin's development seemed to have stagnated in recent times. In fact, Jason Greene maintains they were basically going out of business.
Since the recent purchase of Topspin and the addition of Nic Seitz to the team a few weeks ago, they've been gathering feedback and deciding where to begin.
Over the next 60 to 90 days they will be implementing updates and improvements to Topspin including bringing current best practices to its email marketing components. They maintain this early phase is critical, in part, to show customers that they intend to do what they say and to gives customers an opportunity to evaluate their claims for themselves.
For current users this should be very good news and it makes Topspin worth a second look for newcomers as well as former customers.
A Merger and Acquisition Timeline
January 2014: Topspin cuts 44% of staff
February 2014: Transom Capital Group acquires merch company BandMerch and announces merger with Cinder Block
March 2014: Beats Music acquires Topspin Media
More on Topspin's Short and Long-term Future
CEO Jason Greene filled me in on the above history and shared a bit about Transom Capital Group (TCG). According to Greene TCG is not looking for growth at all costs followed by a quick turnaround but intends to build a strong company.
Obviously, if successful, that process would lead to an attractive target for acquisition but Greene and Seitz maintain that they're focused on the needs of customers and intend to soon demonstrate that commitment.
Merging the three companies meant staff reductions and the like but by the time they acquired Topspin Media much of that painful work had been done. Generally speaking, that phase is complete, they now have their team in place and are moving forward with an initial focus on upgrading Topspin Media.
VP of eCommerce Nic Seitz, who's overseeing the development of combined ecommerce operations under Topspin Media, says they're fortunate that the underlying product is solid. That will enable them to move relatively quickly in coming months.
As noted, April was also about gathering feedback and setting the stage for their next moves with a 60 to 90 day period of work which should result in a variety of improvements at Topspin.
Seitz described Topspin's backend as rigid and unintuitive, pretty much what I've heard from former users all along, and that making it more user friendly and intutive is an especially important goal. This goal includes making it easier to understand and leverage data.
Given that Topspin's analytical capabilities were already praised by users like Wes Davenport, an improved user interface should make this area one of their strengths moving forward.
Another important focus will be improving the email tool and bringing it up to basic best practices for email marketing. Since Topspin's email offering seemed to evoke both love and hate among users, improvement here will make a huge difference.
Additional improvements, many of which will come at a later date, include the following:
Spinshops will continue as their main store option and, at a future date, may introduce subdomain mapping or related options to integrate Spinshops even more completely with artist sites.
As Seitz noted, even major acts still outsource their ecommerce stores, often sending fans to partner sites. He expects many bands will continue to use Spinshops in this manner but they do want to make everything fully brandable and focused on their customers rather than on the Topspin brand.
They also intend to grow Spinshops beyond bundles and add single products and category pages.
A promo code option will be added.
They also plan to add an on-demand merch category, basically a publish-on-demand option, allowing musicians to experiment with merch from t-shirts to shot glasses without big upfront investments and to give bands a fuller looking store when they're getting started.
Keep in mind that the next few months will be focused on how they can improve the basic offering. Bigger changes will follow. I would assume that keeping up with Topspin's site and announcements is the best way to find out what will happen when as they move forward.
Seitz wanted to be careful about saying too much at this stage but everything he shared sounds on point and should be of interest to both current and potential customers.
He's looking forward to working with bands who are currently on Cinder Block and BandMerch. He will be educating folks about Topspin and reviving relationships as the product improves.
With the addition of Topspin, Cinder Block and BandMerch customers will now have a more complete solution bringing in such elements as email marketing which is an important aspect of not only merch sales but ongoing customer relations.
Though the ideal would be to allow all customers to have one interface, that's a future goal with the solution to be determined.
I asked Jason Greene if he had any additional thoughts for Hypebot readers and he wanted to make sure that people got the message that Topspin is here to stay. They're not going out of business and the company will continue to put resources into its development.
He stated that their goal is to help artists generate more revenue than they have in the past.
More money, less problems? Let's hope so. A revived Topspin would be a good thing to see.
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) posts music crowdfunding news @CrowdfundingM. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.