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Guest Post: Music 4.5 Mobile Music – an event summary

Ryan Sommer, director of MaintainPR, sums up the latest Music 4.5 event – Mobile Music the sound of the future.

Will Mills, Director Music and Content at Shazam, started the day. Mills, obviously a seasoned barometer with over 15 years experience in digital and mobile, told the audience that “content is nowhere near as important as context,” and proceeded to offer context around the 184 million users now using his musical discovery app, and the ways they are changing business and product to give new engagement experiences.

Key takeaways:

  • There are now over 185 million tags created by users via the Shazam app
  • The company sees big upcoming potential in Near Field Communication (NFC) and its Android Beam, which lets users share specials or concerts when near each other on different Android handsets
  • The Shazam Player is a connected music experience where users can read about how a record was made while listening, and post to social media
  • The company is seeing big returns on second screen (interactive TV implementation) after two Super Bowl spots and Shazam-able broadcast of the Grammy’s
  • Metrics are allowing live tie-in to broadcasts. Ex: Led Zeppelin song at the end of premier Entourage episode led to 20K spike for that track in real-time

Next Mark Mulligan from Music Industry Blog talked through churn and how mobile has made things more immediate via becoming the de facto conduit for direct to fan engagement.

Key takeways:

  • Cloud services are key aspect of winning customer strategies for mobile music delivery
  • It’s not constructive, or relevant anymore, to refer to mobile as a secondary stream
  • 32% of us now consume music on smartphones (Source: BPI)
  • Consumers are readily more involved with software on a mobile device because the app stores have been designed to work without complication
  • As consumers are forced to make big ecosystem bets (Spotify, Facebook, iTunes) 3rd party services who are bundling and Facebook stand to win big, because the social network is so dominant
  • Android still has a long way to come since they have always remained a semi-open ecosystem

The first panel of the day, moderated by Charlotte McEleny of New Media Age was on how to crack the music app market, and featured a good mix of developers: Syd Lawrence of We Make Awesome Sh** and David Hamilton from Pepper App; analyst William Lovegrove (Release Consulting), and seasoned marketer Tim Grimsditch (Six3, and ex-Nokia).

Key takeaways:

  • The concept of an app marketplace went from a response to jailbreaking, to 45 billion downloads in just under 4 years time thanks to the Apple iPhone. No one is music space was prepared for these ramifications
  • Dumb users with “smart” phones = Android may have outsold Apple in handsets, but users aren’t downloading apps because learning curve is higher than Apples
  • Syd Lawrence wants to see more clients come to him to build an app via web so it works across a variety of phones and tablets: “I still don’t understand the appeal of locking yourself into one app store” (i.e. Apple)
  • David Hamilton sees huge growth opportunity in the way current music generation approaches content: “Users want the latest on the band they love NOW.” Tipping point will be location-based direct to fan, pay for one-offs, special videos and tracks
  • Tim Grimsditch says marketing in apps still has a long way to go. iAds in very prominent and embedded Nokia campaign didn’t return. “This is genre specific because gaming industry does show return”

Wrapping up the afternoon before well-earned networking drinks, Martin Macmillan from Bounce Mobile highlighted licensing problems for partial clips when breaking new artists via apps.

Key takeaways:

  • More flexible licensing is required for future of the space, but huge opportunity exists (especially for unsigned bands) for “in app” music
  • Paramount is music that is relevant to app. “If the first thing your user does is mute the device when the game starts, you have failed.

Also, veteran circuit bender, and genre-establishing writer for mobile music creation Ashley Elsdon from Palm Sounds walked the audience through highlights of the best music creation tools available on iOS.

Elsdon would like to see a less traditional approach to development for mobile, since most of today’s music creation tools mimic a desktop environment. He pointed to the app RJdJ as one standout that is thinking beyond the box.