Ian Rogers steps down as executive of Apple’s music streaming service

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Inc loses key music executive Ian Rogers just months after debut of Apple Music.

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple’s online music subscription service is losing a key player as millions of listeners near the end of a free three-month trial period that has drawn mixed reviews.News of Ian Rogers’ departure from Beats 1 for an unspecified job in Europe came as a surprise to the entire music industry, including his coworkers, sources tell Billboard.

Apple Inc. said music executive Ian Rogers is leaving the company, a surprise departure coming a couple of months after the debut of a new service he helped create. Rogers joined Apple with the company’s US$3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics in August 2014, and oversaw the online radio operation of Apple Music, including the station Beats 1. Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats last year was driven in large part by the iPhone maker’s desire to draw upon the musical chops of Rogers, longtime recording executive Jimmy Iovine, and hip-hop artist Dr. The veteran digital-music executive, who has worked with the Beastie Boys, Yahoo Music and his own Topspin artist-to-fan platform over the years, gave no indication of wanting to leave until his abrupt announcement to the company two weeks ago. Rogers was part of the team at Apple charged with grabbing a piece of the streaming music business, a growth area for the industry as physical and digital sales decline.

The departure, earlier reported by the Financial Times, is a surprising development for Apple less than two months after its high-profile launch of Apple Music—a streaming music service that aims to compete with Spotify AB. Rogers’ last day is unclear at the moment, though an insider suggests he could be around for “a couple more weeks.” Rogers’ role at Beats — technically, he was Senior Director at Apple Music, a position that saw him spearheading the development of the station and hiring chief curator Zane Lowe — seemed to be his dream job. “Seeing Apple Music on stage at WWDC this month … it was hard not to feel like the last 20+ years was leading to this day,” he wrote on his blog the day before the service’s June 30 launch. He was the one who proudly led journalists through demonstrations in advance of its launch, and in June, he was front and center at the Apple press conference where the service was officially announced. Rogers’ Twitter feed, which went into overdrive around the launch of Beats 1, contains just a handful of Tweets unrelated to the station amid hundreds posted from London and Apple’s Cupertino, California base, as well as his Los Angeles home.

The company is offering a three-month free trial to the US$10 to US$14 monthly service, and told USA Today this month that 11 million people had signed up. In a blog post Rogers published just before Apple Music went live, he reminisced about his role in the evolution of streaming music and had fond words for Beats, “a human-curated, music-respecting service.” His exit from the industry he worked so hard to establish seems to come out of left field.

Rogers had been overseeing Apple’s online radio stations, including Beats 1, that will remain free even after people have to start paying to use most of the company’s music service. In a smaller organization Ian’s departure would be felt much more than it will in Apple, where no person is bigger than the project.” Whatever Rogers’ motivation, it seems to be personal. Music streaming services that charge monthly fees or play ads are becoming increasingly popular as people gravitate away from digital stores, such as Apple’s iTunes, that sell entire albums or individual songs that can be stored on devices. Since its debut, Apple’s music service has been criticized for being too complicated to use and for having trouble customizing suitable song recommendations for individual tastes.

Rogers presumably received a payout when Beats was acquired by Apple for $3 billion — and he sold Topspin, in which he was a key shareholder, to Beats in 2014 for an undisclosed sum.

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