Brave New World…

11 Jan 2011

“Social gaming is the next MTV” according to Yuza Mobile CEO, Richard Skaife, who keynoted MusicTank’s recent forward-looking panel, Brave New World… that considered location-based gaming, augmented reality (AR) and app development vehicles for the music industry.

Enjoying impressive uptake in Asia and now becoming more commonplace in the west, costs involved in adopting meaningful AR and gaming technology makes it the preserve of a minority of headline artists (Muse, Madonna, Taylor Swift etc).

Yet despite surging popularity, making real money out of social gaming is still something of a moot point.  The billions of very real dollars being made from the sale of virtual goods put into stark contrast the music industry’s seeming inability to make money from these new technologies and formats, with developers citing complex licensing regimes as a barrier to entry for music rights holders.

App development is another story, however, with a modest outlay potentially able to yield significant dividends for all – a recent Taylor Swift app that cost £1’000 in development has resulted in 600’000 single track downloads to-date and yielded £40’000 of music sales in its first week.

And the good news only gets better… forget £1’000 – spending just £200 can get you a whizz-bang app that can directly yield near-immediate revenue, with a few provisos…

Imogen Heap’s manager Mark Wood was quick to stress the need for a comprehensive, active and credible social media strategy for any artist who might be considering app implementation.  Without it, an app is pretty much rudderless, dependent as it is on digital and social media.  PIAS Entertainment’s head of mobile, Charles Fitzgerald went further, urging all to consider basic questions.  Are your fans even ready for an app?  Are they likely to be smartphone users and if so which platforms should you be considering?  Blindingly obvious once stated but easily overlooked when caught up in the in the rush to go ape with apps…

Some lasting takeouts from this session came from Mobile Roadie’s Stephen O’Reilly: cost need not be a barrier to entry for app building; you can use apps to dig deep into who’s listening to your music and how and drive download purchases, merch and ticket sales; A-list artists excepted, charge for your app at your peril – you will likely loose potential installs of the app, even if charging a nominal amount.  So make it easy for your user *but* in pursuing a freemium model, make sure you “build-in upsell potential.”

Again, all-too-familiar licensing issues came to the fore when the panel was quizzed about global apps, deftly handled by Charles Fitzgerald… “Publishing’s never been easy.  Global releases create difficult scenarios with apps in an industry that releases territorially.”

Sound familiar?

Jonathan Robinson, MusicTank

For the full nine yards – the full event transcript will shortly be available on the MusicTank website in the usual way.  Don’t miss the video ‘teaser’ coming soon.

Jonathan Robinson, Programme Director, MusicTank

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