Missing a beat: Apple loses key music exec

Ian Rogers has reportedly left the tech giant only two months after launching the Beats1 online radio station.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 23 Sep 2015

It’s inevitable that a company will lose top people from an acquisition – some just won’t be able to get over that square peg-round hole feeling that can come from being bought out by a bigger business. But it’s still a bother for a parent company, when talent is often a large part of the reason they buy up in the first place. Apple’s loss of key music streaming executive Ian Rogers will be no different.

Rogers, who spearheaded the tech giant’s move into online radio, has left just two months after the Beats1 station was launched, according to the FT, which cited ‘two people familiar with the matter.’ It’s also a mere 15 months after Apple bought Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s headphones and streaming company Beats for $3bn (£1.95bn).

His departure, confirmed without further details by Apple, was apparently a surprise to colleagues. Especially as the music industry veteran, who was the Beastie Boys’ webmaster from 1993 to 1998, is supposedly off to Europe to work in a completely different industry.

Beats1, a free service designed to encourage people to buy streaming subscriptions, had been received pretty well so far. Rogers had poached new music mega DJ Zane Lowe from BBC Radio 1 and signed up everyone from Pharrell Williams to Elton John to do their own shows. Meanwhile, 11 million people signed up for a free Apple Music trial in its first month, not a bad mouthful given Spotify’s 75 million users.

Apple will surely be able to shrug off Rogers’ departure. The world’s most valuable company (even after the stock market turmoil of the last couple of weeks) has ample distraction in the form of a new iPhone 6 launch on September 9, for a start.

But it’s still playing catch-up to Spotify (and, to an extent, YouTube) in streaming, which grew 50% in 2014 as music downloads dropped around 10%. Losing a key executive at this early stage won’t taste good.

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