A phone is perhaps the most personal item a person owns. In many instances, it is more valuable than your purse, wallet or keys, and there are very few people who go anywhere without it. Mobile phones are fascinating because they can be personalized, and people continue to spend money customizing, buying and replacing ring tones, wallpapers, and a variety of other features. A customer will pay for something that conveys his/her social identity, and more often than not that involves a music purchase; hence the tremendous opportunity for the music industry.
Today’s music industry is producing new business models. There is more music information, and ways to obtain that information, than ever before. The Internet and mobile devices are the staples of the exchange. It is the job of companies, artists and promoters within the industry to best take advantage of the emerging opportunities in mediums like these, which are shaping our future.
I had to opportunity to sit down with Adva Mobile’s CEO, Jack Kelly, to discuss his company and, more generally, the mobile music market. Mobile technology is rapidly becoming an operational platform for many businesses, and this is especially true for the music business. There are multiple uses and benefits for mobile technology in all areas of the industry, including live music and touring, the management of fan clubs, and the sale of merchandise and recorded music.
In particular, Adva Mobile is a mobile marketing service that provides a software platform that enables music artists and businesses to create closer relations with their audience through mobile fan clubs. The service, which is free to join for artists, provides mobile messaging, a presence with mobile Internet pages, mobile commerce and network sharing, and web marketing. It provides artists and businesses with self-service tools for the text messaging and rich media experiences that build fan loyalty in mobile commerce. Adva Mobile launched recently, in 2009, but so far over 650 artists of all genres have signed up.
Revenues are derived from the sale of mobile web development and marketing services, subscriptions, e-commerce sales, and mobile phone advertisement. They charge a commission for each item sold by an artist–be they a ticket, a merchandise, or a music sale. Its reduced-version, or free model, allows the company to subsidize artists who are looking to build their fan base at no cost. The company generates profit when an artist does. “We are enablers, and tool kit providers,” says CEO Jack Kelly. Adva Mobile can measure the effectiveness of a promotional campaign or the extent of fan engagement with the artist. Closer access, of course, may mean different things to different artists, so a variety of approaches are considered. For example, if an artist has a pet cause that is very important to her, the platform may encourage her fans to donate to that cause.
Music discovery is not now on the horizon for mobile. Rather, mobile takes exposure to a new level. Once music is found, the communication path can be two-way—and more personal than TV, radio, or even the Internet. In fact, all media exchanges other than real time one-on-one interactions, pale in comparison to mobile.
Mobile technology and the services Adva Mobile provides can be a very important piece of the model for an artist at any level. Superstars and newcomers alike can utilize the benefits and flexibility of the mobile model, with its versatility having something different to offer everyone. Coupled with the viral nature of the Internet, it is an amazing tool and unbelievable channel to reach an artist.
Mobile can help artists re-define their relationship with fans in a way they cannot with other media. It taps into a lifestyle, creating a work effort to engage and grow a fan base. The company is geared towards artist that want to make a career, and are testing to see if mobile can make that happen for more artists. We have seen it happen first hand with MySpace and YouTube, so why not mobile? Will it be possible for an artist to break big on this model without major support from a label? Adva Mobile is attempting to move the trends, to enable a larger percentage of those 3 million artists on the web create careers.
Adva Mobile, and mobile services like it have also created opportunity for record labels and promoters. By bringing a multitude of artists into the service, a portion of marketing and promotional efforts are already covered, and adding mobile technology into their promotional plans is strategic for them.
Artists have used this service in a variety of ways, proving the model’s versatility. Some bands have held auctions, contests and giveaways for their fans to finance their latest musical project, go on tour, or donate to a charity. Mobile has emerged as a new piece to the DYI (do it yourself) model, fitting in wherever an artist or company may need it. The mobile phone has the possibility to re-invent the fan to band relation. There are so many touch points, from videos to messaging, to IVR (mechanical voice responses) and purchases.
Mobile marketing is one piece to the greater whole. It is hard to know if any one thing is responsible for an artist’s success, but mobile is part of a broader strategy for allowing artists to reach out to their fans. Mobile technology is still in the discover phase, but is without a doubt on the forefront of new activity in the music industry. There are over 4 billion cell phones in the United States alone, which creates the ability to reach, whether it is to deliver or distribute, greater than any other medium.
[box]Adva Mobile is working with Berklee to organize a Student Advisory Board with the company. Adva Mobile is interested in the expertise and insight of Berklee students regarding the use of marketing techniques to reach and engage music audiences and the use of mobile marketing techniques. Music Business/Management Majors are encouraged to apply. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in participating.[/box]
By Kerry Fee