Topspin, the Santa Monica-based company that helps artists connect directly with their fans online, on Thursday announced non-exclusive agreements with four digital music companies including Pledge Music, Firebrand, INgrooves Fontana and Artist Growth.
The deals, announced by Topspin chief executive Ian Rogers during his talk at the FutureSound conference in San Francisco, are an effort by Topspin to provide a more complete suite of digital tools for artists.
"Often artists come to us with many pieces solved and they're just looking for the direct-to-fan component, but increasingly artists are coming much earlier in the process and looking for an end-to-end solution," Rogers said.
Those solutions can involve funding, distribution, retail as well as marketing, Rogers said.
PledgeMusic offers a Kickstarter-style fan-funding tool. INgrooves Fontana adds digital and physical distribution capabilities. Firebrand helps artists build online stores to sell merchandise. And Artist Growth gives artists software tools to manage their tour calendars, track finances and manage their inventory, among other things.
Rogers made the announcement at the end of a talk in which he addressed what "Media 2.0" means for musicians. With widespread access to free music, Rogers in his talk argued that artists should focus on recruiting new listeners and moving them up the so-called value pyramid from hearing the music to becoming active fans who will pay more than just 99 cents to download song.
"Piracy gets blamed but many studies have shown unbundling has been the primary driver of lost revenue in the music business," he said. "What used to cost $18 has now become $0.99 or in many cases, free. I'm increasingly convinced when people buy digital music the value in the transaction for them is in convenience and curation, not the digital music itself."
The solution to the unbundling, Rogers said, is to rebundle music into "higher value packages" that include merchandise, collectibles, vinyl, tickets and other items.
"What does media 2.0 look like?" Rogers said. "It's the direct relationship between the artist and the fan. The rest of us … have to provide value or get out of the way."