“We really believe in human curation,” Rogers said. “We think robots don’t know what songs come next. People do.”
Music experts have been brought into the fold. Count among them Rogers’ own mother, Paulette VanAntwerp.
“My mom will school you on Americana,” he said. “My mom is actually going to be an Americana music curator for Beats Music. She knows so much and is such a music fan.”
Then and now
Prior to his involvement with Beats Music, Rogers’ resume included a stint as general manager of Yahoo Music, where he built Yahoo Music Unlimited.
“It was the first $5 a month subscription service,” he said. “In that way, the task and challenge, it’s really similar (to Beats Music). It’s a catalogue of music, with personalized recommendations and you pay a monthly fee and you get all you can access to music.”
The difference between getting the respective ventures off the ground is comparable to night and day, according to Rogers. The biggest difference is due to technology. Remember the 2000s? Now think circa 2014 and smartphones. Think people with portable Bluetooth speakers and access to increasingly fast wireless networks.
“And guess what? They know how to install an app from the app store,” Rogers said. “They know how to hit a play button. So they install an app like this, they hit play and they go, ‘Wow.’”
Of the Yahoo venture, Rogers said, “It was the right idea, but there wasn’t critical mass on the audience side yet.”
In between Yahoo and Beats Music, Rogers spent five years with the TopSpin company, working with artists including Reznor, Paul McCartney, Eminem and Linkin Park to do direct consumer marketing. Closeness to artists, and their input, is key to Beats Music, Rogers indicated. It’s also a carry-over of sorts from TopSpin.