Au Moroc

Yancey found himself with some extra time and suggested we take a weekend trip. Neither of us had ever been to Morocco, or the African contintent for that matter, so it was decided Morocco would be our destination.

Yancey set the plan: Thursday and Sunday in Marrakech, Friday and Saturday at the coast. With a rental car drive and many hours in a hotel together in our future my thoughts turned to the soundtrack. You may know Yancey via mutiple profiles in the FT but I know Yancey as a music fan and former music writer, so I knew this would be a sonically gratifying weekend regardless the location or weather.

In 1993 Mark Thompson and I drove through five midwestern states in three days. We fell in Lake Michigan and bowled in our underwear while our clothes were drying at the laundromat, were escorted out of the state of Wisconsin by the police, had our photo taken on a couch in Davenport, Iowa, and threw snowballs at Chicago city buses after the Girls Against Boys show at The Metro. We also stuck to a strict rule set by Mark: “Hey do you want to go on a road trip this weekend? OK, no need to bring a change of clothes and we each bring only one album on one cassette tape.” Roughly fifty hours in a car over three days and TWO albums. Mark brought Rocket From The Crypt’s “Circa Now”. I contributed Souls of Mischief’s “93 to Infinity”. Good choices, even with the benefit of hindsight. I still listen to both of those albums and when I do I always think of that fun weekend with Mark.

So I set a similar rule for our four days together in Morocco: We can each make one playlist 60 minutes in length. That’s the only thing we can listen to all weekend.

So I’m typing this to you from a hotel room in Marrakech while on the 20th or so listen to the same 30 songs. And it still sounds good. What playlist could do that?! This one:

From my Apple Music account (complete):

From Yancey’s Spotify account (missing Mos Def and Torche — wtf?):

Big ups to the one and only Yancey Strickler for making this weekend happen. Thanks to Jamie Kim for lending him to me for the weekend. Let’s do it again, but with Hogarth and three hours of music.






The Defiant Ones


In 2014, the day before we officially announced the aquisitition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music by Apple, I met Jimmy, Dre, Luke and Paul at Van Nuys airport for the flight to Northern California.

Jimmy was the only one on the plane when I boarded. He said, «Ian, today, film everything.» I wasn’t so sure, it’s not that cool to walk in to Tim Cook’s office filming, even if you’re using an iPhone. But Jimmy said yes, so I did.

Dre was next to board the plane and sat across from me. I said, «Fair warning: Jimmy told me to film everything today.» Dre responded, «Man, I’m scared of those cameras.» Given the Tyrese video that jeopardized the deal was still a fresh wound, I told him I understood but he didn’t need to worry, it wasn’t Tyrese with the camera, it was me.

I shot a lot of photos and video on my phone that day. I have footage of both Jimmy and Dre signing the many pages of Beats/Apple deal paperwork on the plane, all of us walking in the front door of 1 Infinite Loop the day before the announcement, Eddy Cue in Jimmy’s hotel room at the Four Seasons Palo Alto reading aloud an article refuting Dre as «hip hop’s first billionaire», the photo shoot of the iconic NYT photo at the close of the deal, and Jimmy giving a heartfelt soliloquy about his long-time friendship with Dre.

Out of respect for both the personal and confidential I’ve never posted these videos anywhere public. They sat in my iCloud account and I’d show them to friends and family and sometimes just myself, proof this really did happen to me; it wasn’t a dream. I didn’t know what else to do with it. I thought maybe someday, if I didn’t lose the files first, I’d edit them together into something coherent to give to Jimmy, Dre and Luke as a gift.

When I learned Allen Hughes was making a documentary for HBO about Jimmy and Dre I sent him the footage. He seemed excited about it but I wasn’t sure if he would make use of it. That was more than two years ago. I was stoked and proud to see a few selections in episode 1 of The Defiant Ones when I saw a screening here in Paris a couple weeks ago (apologies to Guillaume who was sitting next to me at the screening and had to hear me point out every shot that was mine).

So to commemorate the release of The Defiant Ones on HBO today I’m posting a photo from that day for the first time – a photo of the above-mentioned plane flight, Dre sitting across from me and Jimmy behind.

I loved every minute of working with Jimmy, Dre, Luke, Trent and the rest of the Beats teams. I’m fortunate on every level to have had the opportunity. Jimmy pushed me to do things I didn’t know I was capable of, and if you watch this documentary you’ll see I’m far from the only one and in extraordinary company in that regard. Jimmy was my first call or email at 7am and my last at 11pm every day, and his work ethic and attention the the business – while having FUN – is something I’ll always strive to replicate. That’s not bullshit. It’s real. I lived it, momentarily. It’s «the high I’ll always try to get back».

Thank you sincerely for inviting me along for a short part of your incredible journey. It was an honor, privilege and pleasure.

24 Sèvres Launches Today

1_uPv2b16bNLN5FBSsXyilrA24 Sèvres, launching today, brings Parisian style to the world

Today, after three months of testing with friends and family, we are opening 24 Sèvres to the public at and the 24 Sèvres iOS app. 24 Sèvres is a fashion boutique extending the world’s first department store, Paris’ Le Bon Marché, to anyone with an Internet connection in more than 70 countries around the world, any time of day or night.

When I joined LVMH in October 2015 24 Sèvres was an idea introduced to me by Alexandre Arnault with a code name and one employee, Eric Goguey, formerly leading e-commerce for Sephora Europe. Today 24 Sèvres is a living and breathing startup in Paris’ 15th arrondissement, home to world-class in-house software engineers, fashion buyers, a creative studio, marketing team, customer service staff, and more.

Here on 24 Sèvres’ launch day I’d like to extend gratitude and credit to Eric and the 24 Sèvres team:

Thank you! Not only did you build a product you built a team, a startup in Paris, in secret, heads down and focused. 24 Sèvres’ initial version is beautiful and in my experience testing and demoing over the past few months incredibly well-coded and stable end-to-end, from browsing and simple ordering on mobile, to receiving my beautiful package. You clearly took pride in your software craft the way other LVMH craftspeople take in their respective métiers. I salute you!

Dear reader, please show the 24 Sèvres team your support by downloading their app from the Apple App Store:

Download the 24 Sèvres iOS App

or visiting them at and make a purchase if you’re so inclined… and tell a friend…

In case you’re wondering what’s special about 24 Sèvres, let me give you the highlights:



I distinctly remember a picture of the world’s first department store in my Indiana high school French text, a photo of a giant and beautiful building called Le Bon Marché, located at 24 Rue de Sèvres in Paris, France. In 1852 Le Bon Marché invented the concept of department store, putting multiple brands together in a single showroom allowing the customer to browse, dream, and be inspired by the products on display. Later they would pioneer doing this via a paper catalog for people who couldn’t make it to their showroom; they invented e-commerce, conceptually, in the late 1800s.

Today I live in Paris, a ten minute walk from Le Bon Marché. I’m a member of their 24 Sèvres loyalty program. In the past year and a half I’ve bought cashmere sweaters, shoes, jeans, sweatshirts and socks, soaps and hand cremes, a mechanical swiss-made watch, and a raincoat for Paris winter. I’ve purchased notebooks and pens, and books to read in both French and English. I’ve bought games, Legos, a stuffed panda and alligator, and a beautiful dress to wear to Christmas dinner for our daughter, Lucinda. But Le Bon Marché is much more than just a department store; attached via tunnel and walkway is La Grande Epicerie, a massive grocery and collection of eateries that I describe to my American friends as a combination of Eataly and Whole Foods. In Le Bon Marché there is a cafe with delicious vegan salads who also happens to sell music books (I bought the Punk Magazine collection there) and vinyl (AC/DC bootleg vinyl Rive Gauche?!). There are “jeans ateliers” (yes, more than one) where you can have your jeans custom made and multiple places in the store where you can have all kinds of products, from shoes to bags, customised just for you by artists and craftspeople. January 2016 brought an inspiring art installation from Ai Wei Wei and this year you could walk through the centre of an installation from Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota. In December Lucinda and her fifth grade friends went to Le Bon Marche to see the shows they had running during the holiday shopping season — acrobats, mimes, music — and every hour on the hour a musical alarm would sound and staff would run through the store handing balloons to kids. All this to say that if you believe what retail futurists like Doug Stephens are saying, retail’s purpose is changing, physical experiences are becoming more premium and more experiential, something you simply cannot get online, then Le Bon Marché continues to lead and innovate.

Which is incredible if you live in the neighborhood (as I do) or are visiting Paris (like thirty million people do each year) but what about the other seven billion people on the planet? How can they experience Le Bon Marché and this unique, Parisian take on fashion, lifestyle and culture? Especially when none of the leading online boutiques are based in Paris?

24 Sèvres will bring this unique spirit, selection, and style of Paris and Le Bon Marché to the world 24 hours per day every day of the year. The unique style and selection will bring Le Bon Marché to you, wherever you are in the world.



We are excited to be launching 24 Sèvres just at the beginning of what we consider phase two of Internet e-commerce. If the first phase was about price the second phase is set to be about the total customer experience.

Why do people come to an online boutique instead of simply typing a keyword in to the search bar? We know they come (often every day) to be inspired, see what’s new and of the moment. Yet online boutiques today are still pushing « editorial + commerce » in a visual Internet era. I was inspired by meeting Faye McLeod (LVMH Visual Image Director) at Alexandre Arnault’s apartment early in the 24 Sèvres project. Looking through the book Louis Vuitton Windows which features a lot of her team’s (LVMH Visual Studio) work I was reminded that our physical stores invoke desire through beauty and creativity, not promotion. From there we started exploring how to bring this art of visual merchandising to the Web and our mobile app, and asking how we could connect our physical store windows to these virtual ones. This will evolve in the coming months and years but I am excited to see how Faye, Julien, and the team have conceptually and visually connected the merchandising of the initial 24 Sèvres capsule collection in Le Bon Marché at 24 Rue de Sèvres in Paris and online at I hope you can visit both this summer but if not please compare any page on 24 Sevrès to a similar page on your previous favorite online boutique and let us know what you think. We are proud of the difference but would love to hear your feedback.


Testing the 24 Sèvres personal shopper experience from the 24 Sèvres app


Fast shipping, easy returns, personal shoppers for VIPs — customer service is an arms race in luxury shopping at the moment. But how do you bring the experience you get working with a human being in store to your home? We wanted to explore the notion that great luxury customer service is more than just fast delivery so we built the first video personal shopper integrated directly in the 24 Sèvres mobile app. Simply create an account and click Personal Shopper in the My Account section of the 24 Sèvres app to be connected to a personal shopper in Paris. Worldwide access to a personal shopper in Paris would have been science fiction twenty years ago but it’s available on the most popular cell phone in the world today. This plus fast shipping to more than seventy countries worldwide and the most luxurious unboxing experience of any online shopping destination show our commitment to service which will only grow in the coming days and months.

It’s a big day for us! Thanks for sharing it with us by giving 24 Sèvres a try. Let us know what you think.

ian c rogers
Paris, June 6, 2017

Join us June 16th for the LVMH Innovation Award winner, jury announced below


Viva Technology Paris will bring 5,000 of the world’s best startups together in Paris next week. At LVMH we’ve been preparing for these three days for more than six months. Join us and you’ll see 20 LVMH Maisons showing their latest innovations alongside the 32 startup finalists in the LVMH Innovation Award.

More than 500 startups from over 40 countries applied for the LVMH Innovation Award. A group of VCs and industry professionals helped us select the 32 finalists. I’m proud to announce the jury alongside me to help us select the one winner:

– Angela Ahrendts, SVP Retail, Apple
– Alexandre Arnault, co-CEO Rimowa
– Sébastien Bazin, Chairman & CEO Accor
– Stewart Butterfield, Founder Slack
– Tony Fadell, Inventor, Investor
– Kirsten Green, General Partner Forerunner Ventures
– Natalie Massenet, Entrepreneur, Imaginary
– Nas, Artist, Investor
– Daniel Zhang, CEO Alibaba Group

Bernard Arnault, Chairman & CEO LVMH, Jury’s Chairman

I hope to see you at Viva Technology at 10am on June 16th as Bernard Arnault and I present the winner. We are looking forward to getting to know and hopefully working with each of these startups!

Also, Tony Fadell and I will join Josh from Cool Hunting on stage to ponder how we both ended up in Paris and there will be programming in the LVMH zone for the full three days. See you here!

ian c rogers
Paris, June 2017

Ride On. Goodbye to my brother, Danny Stenberg


Danny Stenberg, February 10, 1964 — April 15, 2017

My brother, Danny Stenberg, was killed in a motorcycle accident near his home in South Bend, Indiana last Saturday.


Danny Stenberg

Danny was the sweetest, most intelligent outlaw my mom and mother earth ever produced.


Michele, Danny and me circa 1973

My earliest memories of Danny involve the thrill of disobedience. While he was meant to be babysitting me he set me atop a speaker twice my size in a black lit basement while he and his friends got in to who knows what. I was too little to tell you what music was blasting out and I have no memory what Danny and his friends were doing but I knew I wasn’t supposed to tell mom.


Danny Stenberg in high school

When I was in kindergarten Danny started a deliberate (and ultimately successful) music brainwashing program on me. He grew too old or cool for his KISS records and I was the lucky recipient of his vinyl copies of Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over and Alive. He asserted an earnest “Rush lyrics 101” class for the five year-old me. Anyone who knows Danny can picture this as a serious and important task for him. I’m sure he believed he was giving me something vital school and parents never would. He was right, and I’ve leaned on this wisdom with good fortune ever since.

But Danny disappeared when I was young. He ran away, went West. Alaska? California? Wyoming? It wasn’t clear. From the stories I’ve heard in recent years it was all of the above.

I never thought of Danny leaving as a result of a falling out with mom. They didn’t argue any more than anyone else. Even as a kid I blamed Goshen and Indiana. The city couldn’t hold him. He was not normal. He didn’t do normal person things. He couldn’t hang around normal people too long.


Darlene, Danny, Daniel, Vicki, Michelle, Kris Kurtz, me, Warren

Danny was an inspiration to me. He proved there was life beyond Goshen and it was more fun to pursue it.


Me and Danny in Chicago, 2016

Thankfully I had an opportunity to tell him these things recently. He met me in Chicago last August and we rode motorcycles from Chicago to Goshen, Goshen to Detroit, Detroit to Chicago. We bunked together and had those side of the road coffee stops together where he talked faster than we rode. But even more than we talked we rode on, covering miles without saying a word, constantly aware of and never letting each other out of sight. You ride your ride, I’ll ride mine, but I see you and I’m right here if you need me. This is the silence that defines the communication between the men in my family.


Danny would tell you anything you asked about him. Usually it was barreling positivity and possibility but it was sometimes punctuated with thoughtful consideration of past mistakes and even guilt. He knew he didn’t always do right but he always wanted to do better. Tomorrow was a new, brighter day and he was going to take advantage of it, dammit. Fuck yesterday. Yesterday is gone. Today and tomorrow are what we have.


In a text exchange with Danny the morning of his last ride he sent a photo of him and guitarist Michaelangelo from the night before. “Killer players, killer night :-)”. In an attempt to text him back a link to the album I was listening to at that moment, the new Mastodon, I instead texted him a link to an audio interview with Yuval Harari, the author of Sapiens, talking about Vipasana meditation. When I apologized for the wrong link he said, “I’m listening to that other thing, and I like it!” At his memorial I learned from people I’d never met, people who were in Narcotics Anonymous and the Masters of Social Work program at Indiana University with him, that this openness and positivity was his hallmark for them, too. Danny was an outlaw. He rarely, if ever, took the path those who loved him wanted him to take. But he was relentlessly optimistic, sincerely kind-hearted, and surprisingly intelligent.

Danny, I miss your texts already. Thanks for everything you gave me these past 45 years. They will never be forgotten. I love you. Sincerely, your little brother Ian.

Click here for the playlist we played at his memorial.

Why I Unfollowed You On Instagram

The Social Network is Yesterday, The Interest Feed is Tomorrow

Curation + Personalization

In October 2011 I gave a presentation called The Race To Be Trusted. I was pulling on a thread handed to me by Andy Weissman regarding the evolution of Internet content distribution. In short:

  • THE AOL ERA: Navigation via URL (e.g. Access to the Internet unfettered previously limited distribution. No longer did we need to wait for stuff to find its way to us via TV, radio, and magazines. A kid in a small town had the same access to culture as one in a big city if she/he knew the URL.
  • THE YAHOO! ERA: Navigation via hierarchical menus. “Gah! This Internet unleashed too much stuff! How do you find any of it?! URLs are long and confusing! Someone organize this mess!” Yahoo! wasn’t alone, Excite, Lycos and others jumped at the “let’s organize the Web” opportunity, too.
  • THE GOOGLE ERA: Navigation via search box. It’s easy to take Google for granted today but making the best of the Web available via keyword search was no small task and game-changing. Google wasn’t the first or only search engine of course (Hotbot, AltaVista, etc) but it was the first that was accessible to a mainstream consumer. PageRank was the secret sauce and worked by giving weight to pages linked to more often, hereby giving algorithmic weight to editorial selection.
  • THE FACEBOOK ERA: It turns out the magic of social was not The Profile (sorry Friendster and MySpace) but The Feed. Facebook’s feed brought the best of the Internet filtered by an extremely strong signal — who you know. Facebook also pioneered the “soft follow”, you don’t see everything your friends post, only the “most interesting” as defined by an algorithm reading the behavior of you and your peers.

In retrospect, that 2011 presentation had it partially right — we all value the first pass of a respected editor. But at Beats Music I saw the value of curation combined with a second, algorithmic step: personalization. Fill a barrel with the best of the best. Now when I walk in, based on insights about my taste and what I’ve selected in the past, choose *for me* from the barrel. Wow! Thanks! That magic trick works.


I Have Apps To Manage My Apps, Yet None Are The Interest Feed I’m Looking For

The Internet is full of expert curators but each want you to subscribe to *them*, their newsletter, their Twitter, their Instagram. No longer do content creators expect you to come to them, they have multiple methods of broadcasting to you. Yet an inbox full of single-brand newsletters is not what I’m looking for. I am looking for a tool to bring me the best of all these human curators, Internet-wide, based on what interests me. What I’m looking for is a meta level above the curators.

Instead today I have a myriad of different apps vying for my attention and not achieving this:

  • Facebook, which wants to be a Social Feed, an Interest Feed, *and* a Communication Tool
  • Snapchat, a Communication Tool trying to be cable TV
  • Medium, a great publishing platform not meta-curation
  • Instagram, a creative canvas full of my interests that makes me do all the curation work (more on that in a minute)
  • Pinterest, a random-feeling feed of images based loosely on my interests
  • Pocket, where I consume my link curation
  • Twitter, a great place to have a public conversation (my interest renewed when we launched Beats 1) but not as creatively satisfying as Instagram nor as well curated (even after I curated who I was following) as the email lists mentioned above.
  • An email Inbox requiring a second app (SaneBox) to separate the “work” from the “interests”. I subscribe to Jason Hirschhorn’s various ReDEF lists, Dave Pell’s NextDraft, The Ann Friedman Weekly and Sean Bonner’s CROWD and value their singular human curation that covers the entire Internet (as opposed to the many sites which are happy to send me a newsletter of what’s new on their site alone). The fact that these collections of links have effectively replaced my need to troll links on Twitter points to Twitter’s deteriorated utility but my “SaneLater” mailbox isn’t the Interest Feed I imagine.

I’m looking for an intelligent feed of my interests. A feed of stuff I’m going to like, drawn from a white-list of trusted curators but personalized for me. Not specific to one vertical (News, Music, Stuff to Buy, etc) or one content type (movies, photos, text, links). Ordered by the most relevant, the stuff I need to see RIGHT NOW. A service which:

  • Quickly discerns my key interests
  • Shows me a feed of things it believes I’ll be interested in, leaning heavily toward video and image content but also including links to articles
  • Leverages a white-list of great curators
  • Doesn’t require me to “follow” anyone or anything. I simply tell it what I like, then interact with the content, and it shows me more of what it thinks I’ll like.
  • Has a way for me to say which content and curators I do not like
  • Features no “private” content. Private content is meant for “social” networks.
  • Isn’t a Communication Tool.
  • Doesn’t care who my “friends” are. Leave that to Facebook. Let me share to my friends. Show me a feed of my interests, not of things people I know like. Ignore that signal all together.

As a user I would say, “I’m a forty-three year old dad who likes skateboarding, punk rock, and motorcycles” and the service presents me the best of the Internet today, for me. As I interact it would discover what I like to read, eat, and wear. Do this well and I’ll rely on you to always have what I need to know about right now.

Does this exist? Am I missing it?


So, This is Why I Unfollowed You on Instagram

So, this is why I unfollowed you (and hundreds of others) on Instagram, just like I did on Twitter two years ago.

The Interest Graph I want doesn’t exist so I’ll hotwire Instagram (and maybe Pinterest and Pocket and Apple News) to fake it until it arrives. I’ll take the time to unfollow most and follow only people who post things I’m interested in, not people I know. That doesn’t mean I don’t love you, it just means I’d rather have the Facebook algorithm tell me if that picture of the funny way the Starbucks barista spelled your name merits viewing or if I can skip this one. I’m going to limit my Instagram feed to the best, most creative and entertaining photographers, because that’s what Instagram is best at.

I’ve found hiring these tools for the specific tasks they’re best at has extended their relevance to me by amplifying their value. All this to say — this is why I unfollowed you on Instagram, just like I did on Twitter a few years ago.

I use Facebook to keep a network of people I actually know IRL. There’s real utility to this network and the smaller it is the more useful it can be. This is where I post things that are personal and things that people who know me would appreciate but are not meant for “public”.

On Facebook it’s possible to “Like” bands, companies, brands, etc but I am un-Like-ing those instead. I want Facebook to do this one thing well — give me access to and filter the internet via a network of people I know IRL. Facebook will not be The Interest Graph. We’ve already watched AOL try to be Yahoo!, Yahoo! try to be Google, and Google try to be Facebook. No dominant player from the previous era will ever own the next era, too. This will be a new, purpose-built tool.

I use Twitter as a feed of news and humor. Once I stopped following people I know or celebrities I like and managed my list of Twitter followers as the list of bylines I’d like to see in my dream publication, my feed got interesting again. That said, I don’t consume it very often anymore for the reasons mentioned above.

I use LinkedIn to keep a network of people I’ve worked with and remember well enough to offer a recommendation about (positive or negative). If I don’t know you, I don’t accept your request. However, while I intellectualize this theoretical value, I never open the LinkedIn app unless I’m hiring. I do read the LinkedIn emails of news and updates on people in my network, though, so I find culling this list valuable.

Snapchat I use to communicate with a select few people and watch vertical video when I’m bored. The channel offering is limited and Snapchat has neither encouraged me to follow too many people nor put the most interesting stuff at the top for me yet.

Instagram, on the other hand, is special in that it is a medium for creativity, not information. “Creativity loves constraints”, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and the (initially) square box of Instagram allowed all of us to communicate a moment as artistically as we were capable. Popular artists of the medium were born. Artists embraced the medium. I love Instagram in an emotional way I don’t love any of these other services.


Please Stop Driving More Followers…

We often hear mainstream users talk about how “overwhelming” “social media” is. I posit this is because the products have been built to drive more following and offer no tools to cull a better, smaller (higher signal, lower noise) set of users to follow. The coveting of follower counts driven these products to encourage FOLLOW FOLLOW FOLLOW when UNFOLLOW would often make the service more valuable for the user, hence driving “overwhelming” instead of “relevant and useful”.

I unfollowed a few hundred people on Instagram this morning and Instagram blocked me. Not only do they not provide any tools to help you cull a better follower list they actually lock the feature if you unfollow too many in a short period. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of how people could get more value from their platform.

…and Stop Calling it “Social Media”

Of all the apps discussed here, Facebook is the only “Social Network”. Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are more valuable as Interest Feeds, LinkedIn is a network of people from your professional life, and Snapchat is a Communication Tool (aspiring to be an Interest Feed). Yet the fact that my “friends” on Pinterest will get a notification when I start a board about “Skateboarding” (even if they have no interest) is an example of how these tools were built with “social” features that actually detract from what they’re great at.

We would do ourselves a favor to stop lumping all these tools together and calling them “Social Networks” or “Social Media” and instead note what makes each service uniquely great and push these companies to improve what they’re best at. What they all are is “distribution”, ways of building direct connections between people and each other or brands. Person -> Person, Brand -> Person, Person -> Brand.

If you agree please spend some time unfollowing everyone who doesn’t bring you exactly the value you hope to get from each platform. Unfollow close friends on Twitter and Instagram without any guilt. After, let me know, does your experience with the platform improve? Do you post more thoughtfully to each platform? Unfollowing has made me more thoughtful about what I post in each service; I am trying to use each medium in the way I’m hoping others will.

The Interest Feed Cometh. Straight Killer, No Filler.

Today, Instagram is the closest I have to an Interest Feed. On Instagram I see skateboarding, artists, music, motorcycles, etc. But Instagram made me do all the hard work. I followed those accounts. I unfollowed the boring ones. Instagram shows me every image posted by every person, in chronological order, irrespective of relevance to me at the moment. Instagram makes the same mistake Twitter made — it gives me tools to follow *more* people rather than giving me the tools to follow *better* people or make my feed more relevant to me. For the average consumer unwilling to do the work I am constantly doing culling each of my social networks for the most relevant experience for me on that platform, this is a cliff of diminishing returns and ultimately a migration to a platform that delivers higher relevance aka a better way to pass the time. It will come.

After all, the one thing that hasn’t changed is us. There are still only 24 hours in a day, we need to sleep a little less than 1/3 of that time, and we want high signal/low noise. We migrate to which ever platform delivers us the highest degree of relevance (call it what you want — entertainment, satisfaction, scintillation) without thinking about it. We didn’t consciously move from Yahoo! to Google, Facebook to Snapchat, it just happened because it scratched the itch a little better.

The next platform that scratches this itch will be an Interest Feed. It knows what we like. It brings us the best of the Internet based on what we like. Straight killer no filler. It doesn’t exist yet. Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Medium, and Facebook are all circling the target but if history is any guide none will complete the pivot and hit the mark. Startups like Pocket are building a relevant dataset. Single-interest or media-type-specific apps are too narrow and not intuitive enough. I love this feeling that it’s right around the corner, and it’s huge, but it’s anyone’s game.

Apple Music and Beats 1 Launch Tuesday June 30th

I haven’t grown up much. I’m still that kid who started collecting records at age five (thanks, Danny, Michele, mom, dad), programming on an Apple II at age 8 (thanks, Mike), making mock radio shows on cassette at age 7 (thanks, Nate), went to vocational school for radio broadcasting at age 15, and started hosting radio at age 16 (my first non dish washing job, thanks, Jon and Tim at WVPE).

In 1993 I was a Computer Science student at Indiana University when Dr Fenske gave me an opportunity to put my studies together with my love, music. He set me off writing an app on NeXTSTEP to stream music (wav) from one part of the campus to another (thanks Rob Francis). I’ve been streaming music ever since. From posting MP3 files immediately after the show in 1998 (thanks Mike, Adam, Adam, John, Bethann) to Winamp, SHOUTcast Radio, Gnutella, and Waste (thanks Rob, Justin, Tom, Steve) to Muse.Net to building and releasing the first ever $5/month music subscription service (thanks Dave and Bob). From walking Capitol Hill post CRB ruling to sitting on the stand in White Plains all in defense of streaming radio. Add to that endless Topspin stump speeches about giving artists direct access to the people who love their art (thanks Shamal, Peter) and more recently building and releasing a human-curated, music-respecting service, Beats Music (thanks Luke, Jimmy, Trent, Dre).

Seeing Apple Music on stage at WWDC this month (fast forward to 1:43:00 in the above video) it was hard not to feel like the last 20+ years was leading to this day.

Tuesday morning we’ll be unveiling the next chapter. Please make a note to upgrade to iOS 8.4 Tuesday, June 30th and listen to our first day of broadcasting. Here’s a Facebook invite to make it easy for you to say yes, you’ll be there, and invite all your friends. See you there.

Today Was A Good Day: The Live 90s Hip Hop Playlist

Live 90s Hip Hop Playlist

If you’d have told the 20 year-old me in 1993 that I’d one day be trading emails with Jimmy Iovine and Paul Rosenberg about a playlist including Dr Dre, Ice Cube, Cypress Hill, Souls of Mischief, Pharcyde, Geto Boys, Nas, Bone Thugs, and a host of others I’d have laughed. But this happened, IRL. Even crazier, see that “playlist” at the top of the page? That isn’t just a list of the songs we came up with, it become the run of show one Friday night this past January at the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles. 14 artists, 17 songs, just over an hour of music. Jazzy Jeff and a live band backed every artist and Fab Five Freddie was the host. I mean, come on.

The show was planned not just to live out our personal life-long fantasies but to promote the launch of Beats Music (click here to download Beats Music). Best of all, NO ONE in the crowd knew what was coming. The place was packed strictly because it was a Beats Music launch party. No one knew what was about to happen on stage. Minds were blown. Lives were changed.

I received a lot of hate mail from folks who couldn’t believe they didn’t get an invite. I’m sorry, again. But now everyone can enjoy it. We edited together a film commemorating the event, “Today Was A Good Day: The Live 90s Hip Hop Playlist”. Yesterday, Revolt TV aired the film on repeat for 24 straight hours. Today, we’re making the video available for streaming online. Click here to check it out.

Enjoy. Thanks for subscribing to Beats Music. If you read this blog you’re already a subscriber, right?

Thanks to everyone in the Beats, Target, and AT&T families who helped make it real. I love you all!

Beats Music, On Your Phone Today

If you know me well you know that more than twenty years ago you would have found me sitting in a closet at Indiana University writing a NeXTSTEP app to allow you to search the card catalog and stream .au audio files across campus from an RS6000 server. This afternoon I’m sitting in an office in San Francisco with a talented team who hasn’t slept much in too many days doing something basically similar, but across the whole of America instead of IU’s Bloomington campus and on a huge stage with the billion dollar brand Beats and the support of an all star board/exec team including Jimmy Iovine, Trent Reznor, Dr. Dre, and Luke Wood. It’s been a crazy twenty years, a journey I wouldn’t trade for the world, and it’s difficult not to feel it’s all been leading up to this day (for those who know me less well, some of that journey is captured in this Wired article).

Beats Music

Today we released Beats Music, the first unlimited streaming and download service that (IMHO) can honestly call itself a “service” and not a “server” in that it’s “of service” to the listener beyond just providing access to a catalog of music. It’s available today on your iPhone, Android phone, Web browser or Sonos. A Windows Phone version is coming later this week. If you’re an AT&T subscriber you can get unlimited streaming and downloads for up to 5 people on your family plan for $14.99/month, a deal never-before offered. Individuals can get Beats Music for $9.99/month. More on my thoughts on what makes this service different from others out there in this Beats Music blog post.

Download Beats Music from one of the links at and dive in to this quick start guide to become an instant expert:

If you like it, please take a moment and give us a positive review in your platform’s app store. Thanks sincerely.

If there’s one criticism that’s been lobbed at us most often over the past couple of weeks it’s regarding our lack of a free, ad-supported version of Beats Music. This is a very thoughtful and conscious decision. We see more than 25 million people paying more than $10/month for satellite radio, 100 million people paying an average of $1,000/year for cable and satellite. We think ~$100/year for a service that brings you the right song for right now (and knows what song comes next) is a tremendous bargain. I’ll give you my personal view: If you’re the kind of person who pays ~$1,000/year for cable and refuse to spend ~$100/year on a great music service, you and I look at the world very differently from one another. If music, and a service that brings you great music experiences and playlists from everyone from Pitchfork to Downbeat to Mojo to Thrasher isn’t worth $100/year to you I’m afraid we don’t have much in common. Or put more specifically, if you are ok with the playlist below being interrupted by a loud insurance ad, music doesn’t define the moments of your life the same way it does mine:

Baby Makin Music

I sat with The Verge last week in NYC and shared a few thoughts on Beats Music, captured in the video below.

We’ve put our lives into this. We love music. We love the curation inside Beats Music. We love the joy having Beats Music in our pocket brings. We’re incredibly proud to be able to share it with you. We hope you love it, too. We hope you love it enough to part with your hard-earned cash and subscribe to Beats Music. If you do, we get to keep doing this, and we will write bigger and bigger checks to labels, distributors, and publishers every month. It means a lot to us when you join us on this journey.

Thank you.


ps – Auspiciously, this is the same day the classic Black Sabbath albums are being released to streaming services like ours. Somebody up/down there is rooting for us.

Beats Music, Coming in January


If you’ve spent any time around me in the past six months you’ve surely seen me buried in my phone making playlists, poking, prodding, and testing our forthcoming service, Beats Music. Sincere thanks to those who have been testing the private Alpha-turned-Beta along with me. We’re nearly ready for liftoff. Thanks to your diligent testing and feedback we are locked and loaded, ready to launch here in the US in January, 2014.

But starting today, you can visit and reserve your username so when Beats Music launches your preferred handle will be ready for you and not competing with everyone else with the same name. Pass this along so your friends aren’t the equivalent of @iancr42.

When I joined Beats Music in January I’d expected we’d get this out the door before the end of the year. Thankfully I work with people who have patience and are more concerned about getting Beats Music right than pushing it out the door. In retrospect we’ve accomplished far more this year than I’d imagined possible.

Beats Music is real.
We’re in an internal, private beta with people who know and love music (including a few of my personal heroes).
We’re providing a few artists and other influencers access to familiarize them with the service and get their early feedback.
We’re making improvements based on that feedback.
We can’t wait to share it with the world, and are set to launch in the US in January.

In considering this blog post I asked Orson Wells to say a few words about the right time to launch a product and he had this salient sage advice: