Interview: CEO Ian Rogers On Topspin Relaunch
Just in time for the start of SXSW Music, Topspin today dropped its invitation only poilicy and opened its direct to fan platform to all musicians. (details here). Just prior to pushing the button on the new Topspin, CEO Ian Rogers answered questions including which artists might benefit from their expanded service and what he's planning next.
HYPEBOT: Assuming that the financial terms work, would you say that Topspin would be an effective tool for any artists? Or is their a dividing line of number of fans or sales?
ROGERS: Topspin is useful for any artist who would like a set of tools to grow awareness, build fan connections, and sell direct to their audience. No tool is right for everyone, some people like ProTools, others Logic, still others prefer one of Reason, Acid, or Garage Band (or some combination thereof). Currently, some of our most active power users are smaller artists. Check out TRICIL for an example of a smaller, self-serve artist using many of Topspin's features, including monthly and yearly membership.
HYPEBOT: Ease of use has been an issue for some with Topspin. Does the new platform address that or do you recommend similar training to get started?
ROGERS: We have begun to address the ease-of-use issues. We've reconfigured the UI to follow the flow of a basic campaign – Products -> Promote -> Sell -> Fans -> Fulfill – and changed some of the more confusing UI constructs. We've added a video tour to every main tab so in less than five minutes you can get a tour of Topspin and familiarize yourself with some of the UI and terminology. We've reworked the look and feel of the app all the way out to the account statement, which is much easier to read. We've added helpful features such as "Import from Gmail, Yahoo!, Mac Addr Book, etc" and improved basic elements such as the file uploader and the physical fulfillment interface.
But of course there's more work to be done. Our users are looking for major updates to the email UI and that's next on our list! We will continue to release a new version of Topspin every week all year. I'm really looking forward to getting feedback from new users in the forums and knocking 'em down one by one.
As with any professional software tool, users should expect a bit of learning curve. You don't open Photoshop, Salesforce, or Final Cut Pro and expect to become a power user overnight. Our goal is to make getting a basic campaign up and running quick and easy without losing the advanced features our power users need to run their businesses. We're getting closer, and welcome feedback on how we can make it even easier.
ROGERS: Tell Hypebot readers a bit more about the new Store Builder feature.
One of the key hurdles to getting a Topspin campaign up and running previously was having a good web site to insert the Topspin offers into. We wanted to offer our users a simple and elegant, four-click-to-get-rolling store. Now, with the Store Builder, you can upload some content, create a package, make a buy button, enable your store and you are quickly selling both on the web and on Facebook. Colors, images, and featured product are easily customized in a WYSIWYG interface.
But it's also easier than ever to integrate Topspin directly into your site. This week we're also announcing new versions of our WordPress and Drupal plugins, the development of a plugin for Expression Engine, plus very exciting integrations with Virb, Bandzoogle, Ning, and others. However you build your web presence, Topspin is there!