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Beats sells most of Topspin, to be merged in with BandMerch/Cinder Block

By | Published on Friday 4 April 2014


So you know how Beats Music bought direct-to-fan company Topspin way back in the heady days of March? It was an acquisition that brought to the fledgling streams-team a group of “talented people who have spent years working on building and fine-tuning the artist-to-fan connection”.

It was all part of Beats Music’s ambition to become “a conduit for the artist-fan relationship”. Said Beats chief Ian Rogers: “This acquisition puts our money where our mouth is”.

Yeah, well they’ve sold it. Direct-to-fan, after all, is all very March 2014. Welcome to April 2014 everybody, it’s a brave new world.

The Beats company has sold off most of the Topspin business, including its actual real life name, to a bunch of those most private equity types. Transom Capital Group to be precise. Who are AEG’s partners in the BandMerch/Cinder Block merchandising powerhouse, and the e-commerce and marketing assets of Topspin Media will now be merged into that merch enterprise.

Quite what that means for the aforementioned “talented people” isn’t yet clear, and it remains to be seen if artists and labels who use the Topspin platform to sell content and merch, and to gather fan data, will notice any difference in the short term.

Beats will keep Topspin’s ArtistLink set-up, which enables artists and their business partners to manage promotions, contra-deal advertising and merch sell-through on different digital platforms, including Spotify and Beats Music, though whether Beats’ competitors will continue using the service long-term, now it’s owned by a rival, isn’t clear. But Beats presumably hopes to provide the best promo and sell-through opportunities to artists in the streaming music space by having the technology that manages such things in-house.

Writing on the Beats blog yesterday, Rogers, who used to head up Topspin of course, said: “When Beats Music acquired Topspin last month, we noted that Topspin’s e-commerce unit wasn’t our core business, and as such we’d be looking for a partner to handle that element of the Topspin platform”.

“Today, I’m happy to announce the Topspin board has found that partner. Transom Capital Group’s entertainment licensing and merch business BandMerch/Cinder Block has agreed to acquire the ecommerce and fulfilment elements of the Topspin platform, along with the Topspin Media name. This is the perfect home for Topspin”.

“BandMerch and Cinder Block merged into one company last month to become a leader in the sports and entertainment merch space. Adding Topspin’s technology and artist relationships to that mix is the best home I could have envisioned for them”.

“Meanwhile, here at Beats Music we’re working on some exciting things built on the Topspin Artistlink platform that we’ll unveil in the coming months. Stay tuned!”