Richer sounds – Adding unimagined dimensions to mobile music

Richer sounds – Adding unimagined dimensions to mobile music

Andrew Fisher CEO, Shazam

Andrew Fisher CEO, Shazam

Mobile technology has the potential to add previously unimagined dimensions to the world of music. The rise in music phones has led to a huge increase in consumers using their mobiles to listen to music.

According to a recent report by M:Metrics, 18.9% of mobile phone owners in the UK have listened to music on their mobile, with 83.6% of those transferring songs onto their mobile straight from the PC. The TNS Global Telecoms Insight study also found that the use of MP3 players in mobiles has risen by 78% over the last year.

Previously the high cost of downloading files over mobile networks and low penetration of 3G enabled handsets were barriers for consumers to download music direct to their handset, rather than sideload it from their PC. However, as costs come down and 3G becomes standard on mobile phones, these issues are becoming a thing of the past.

Facing the music

Mobile operators hold trusted relationships with their customers that gives them a strong position in the market, as customers are much more likely to buy music from a reliable source. However, facing the music hasn’t been that easy for mobile phone operators in the UK. While music sales have a huge potential

for operators to drive growth in the use of data services and counteract the fall in revenue from voice calls, they are facing strong competition from other players including handset manufacturers for consumer’s attention.

The launch of the Apple iPhone has posed some interesting questions for operators as it permits songs to be downloaded over a WiFi network rather than the mobile phone network. Nokia’s Comes With Music service is offering bundled music with their higher end handsets. There are clear signs that operators are responding, with Vodafone’s launch of Vodafone Music and O2’s partnerships with Napster and Sony BMG, allowing consumers to download tracks directly to their phone over the air.


Help from the big labels

Operators are looking to record labels and media owners to help them improve their services, as demonstrated by the deal between O2 and Sony BMG. By working more closely with record labels, operators can offer customers a wider music experience from exclusive access such as sneaky first listens to an album or single, the opportunity to watch videos on their handset or the chance to win tickets to concerts. Vodafone has also announced a collaboration with MTV launching three minute shows for Vodafone Soundbites, again adding unique content and additional value.

It’s no longer just about the single track or album; the music industry is now about the artist as a franchise. We’re already seeing artists offering exclusive content to certain mobile subscribers and this is only set to grow. Mobile music is all about creating exclusivity and offering customers what they can’t get elsewhere. So being able to offer music discovery, the ability to purchase and access exclusive content over the mobile internet are all very attractive propositions for operators, handset manufacturers and content providers alike.

These experiences take mobile music to the next level and will help operator’s build a community of music lovers amongst their customers, as well as attract new users to their network. However, it is important for operators to deliver an innovative range of music products and services so that customers can mix and match how they interact with mobile music.

The mobile music space is changing rapidly, and along with partnerships between operators and record labels, there are also really strong content providers presenting applications. The success of the Apple App Store for the iPhone has shown the desire from consumers for these bespoke applications, and by offering innovative music applications, operators can sit at the heart of the operation. It’s only a matter of time before music is a ubiquitous feature on all mobile handsets in the future.

Operators are aware that they risk becoming simply the data pipe for other services and are starting to embrace innovative services that deliver real value for consumers. Operators now need to create new music experiences for customers that encourage them to be part of the music community. In the world of music where content truly is key, operators, record labels and innovative third parties are now collaborating to ensure that services are compelling and engaging for their customers. Shazam is as global mobile music discovery application, enabling consumers to experience and share music with others across mobile devices and the internet. n

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