Let It Rip

Riptopia makes going digital pain-free

When most of us have a serious tech problem, we usually call a professional. However, Michael Warren, 38, and his brother Chris, 36, are a bit different. In 2004, when Michael had trouble creating and organizing a music library, the two created a company to solve the problem. Riptopia, the brothers’ Washington, D.C.-based company uses proprietary ripping software to turn massive CD collections, speeches, and other content into a complete digital library for customers. The Warren brothers, along with founding partner and company president, Kurt Beyer, launched Riptopia in February 2004.

“We were constantly being asked by friends and family members to help them convert their CD collections into digital format,” says Chris, the company’s vice president of technology and a former Clinton White House staffer. But one day they began to toss around ideas about how they could help other people with the same problem. The result was Riptopia. The company (www.riptopia.com) has processed orders as small as 50 CDs and as large as 25,000. Average orders are 250 to 400, says Chris.

Riptopia provides a variety of digitizing options for customers and allows them to put in their requests via phone or the Internet. Customers simply pack up their CDs and ship them to the company, which insures the value of the clients’ property. Riptopia promises a 48-hour turnaround on all orders. A simple rip on a minimum of 50 CDs starts at $89, and content is delivered on high-density DVDs. Customers can also send in their CDs and have the content placed on an iPod, media centers, or music servers, for the cost of the hardware plus ripping services.

Easy enough, but there are some caveats. The company does not burn mix CDs. “The first thing we did was sit down and get a good understanding of copyright laws and intellectual property issues,” says Michael. “We cannot and do not rip bootleg CDs. Sometimes we get bootleg CDs, which are returned.” Riptopia does not store any of the music it rips; the company creates a new CD (or CDs) for each client. Ease of use coupled with the development of fast-ripping proprietary software has seen Riptopia’s customer base grow from individual users to small businesses, music companies, and even home systems installers. Music and publishing firms that need large quantities of content ripped quickly are also jumping on the bandwagon.

The company has also launched the GodiPod service (www.godipod.com), which enables churches and religious organizations to digitize sermons and Bible scriptures for their congregation. GodiPod will also provide videos of church services, conferences, and speakers. “For now, we’ve been responding to demand rather than creating it ourselves,” says Michael. “Our goal is to be a digital repository for digital data, not just music.” Michael expects the company’s 2006 revenues to be between $5 million and $7 million.

A Love Match?
Recently, Riptopia inked a partnership agreement with Gracenote, the leading provider of music-identification services for iTunes, Yahoo Music Engine, RealNetworks, and RealPlayer. The partnership gives Riptopia access to Gracenote’s vast database, allowing

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