Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Losing Ian Rogers Sucks for Apple and the Music Industry

Written by Jeff Gamet — Apple Music's boss leaves in surprise move.

Apple's man in charge of Apple Music, Ian Rogers, has left the company and the music industry, too. That's a big loss for Apple, and considering his influence on the digital music market, it's a big loss for everyone else, too.

Apple confirmed Mr. Rogers is leaving the company, but isn't offering up any details, according to the Financial Times. Unnamed sources said that instead of moving to another company in the music industry, he left for a company in an unrelated market.

The resignation came as a surprise to Apple and Mr. Rogers' colleagues, too. One insider told Re/code, "This was his dream job."

Mr. Rogers recruited Zane Lowe from the BBC to be the top name on Beats1 Radio, the online radio station that's a keystone part of Apple Music. He was also instrumental in bringing other big names to Apple Music before deciding to leave the company and the industry.

While Apple will most likely be able to move forward without Mr. Rogers heading up its streaming music efforts, the record labels may see this as a warning that Apple Music isn't faring as well as the iPhone and iPad maker would like us to believe. This could be seen as a sign of behind the scenes turmoil, and turn into something record labels question when it's time to renew their Apple Music contracts.

Mr. Rogers was one of the executives who came along with Beats Music when Apple purchased the company in 2014. Co-founders Jimmy Iovene and Dr. Dre were part of that deal, too, and are both still working for Apple.

Apple managed to sign up more than 11 million Apple Music subscribers during the streaming music service's first month, and the company said more than 75 percent are using the service at least weekly. That's impressive for a service that's only a few weeks old, but the real litmus test for Apple Music's success will come after the first three months when all of the initial subscribers run through the trial phase. Assuming Apple can keep most if its initial wave of subscribers after they have to start paying US$10 a month, and draw in more paying subscribers, then Apple Music can be called a real success.

Apple Music part of a long term play for Apple so its overall success doesn't hinge on Mr. Rogers, although it would be easier for the company to keep record labels feeling confident about the service's viability. That said, Apple has likely already been in contact with the labels and reassured them that the situation is under control.

Losing Mr. Rogers is a blow for Apple and the music industry, although it isn't going to bring either to their knees. Apple and Apple Music will move forward, and the record labels will adapt to whoever replaces him.

And whatever offer landed in Ian Rogers' lap must've been beyond amazing to get him to walk away from his dream job.

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