It’s been reported today that Apple Music executive Ian Rogers has left the company to pursue other interests in an “unrelated industry.” That bodes ill for Apple as Rogers was the operational brains behind both Beats Music and its transition to Apple Music.
Rogers has been a long-time digital music insider, having run Beats Music, Topspin (a direct to consumer marketplace for artists and bands) and Yahoo Music. He’s also one of the smartest and level-headed guys in an industry with a dearth of those attributes.
It’s been long speculated that Rogers was a key ingredient in Apple’s acquisition of Beats. Jimmy Iovine may be a vaunted music exec, but he’s been compared to a New York street hustler by many that have done business with him through the years. Dr. Dre is great producer, but he’s seen as a marketing foil for Iovine. Together they were able to turn some cheap Chinese headphones into gold thanks to a licensing deal with Monster Cable, then flip it for a huge profit to Apple.
Rogers was the guy behind the scenes that quietly created the Beats Music service, which was always going to be limited because of the Beats brand and its tie-in with the headphones. He had his finger on the market and the down-in-the-trenches everyday music consumer much more so than Iovine or Dre ever did, and that’s one of the reasons why Apple bought the company. He was just the kind of guy they needed to run the next iteration of iTunes.
I had the pleasure of hearing Rogers speak many times and even interviewed him for a previous edition of my book Music 4.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age. I always came away much more enlightened than before, both in local and global views of the music market. Ian knew his customers very well, the tools they were using, and the music they were listening to. Read more on Forbes.