Recently, as a founding partner of The MMIX (Mobile. Music. Innovation. eXperience), Momentum UK attended the biggest event in the telecoms industry calendar, Mobile World Congress. Monday was a special day for us, as our keynote MMIX panel, ‘The Future of Entertainment is Mobile’, kicked off with panellists including singer songrwiter Will.i.am; David Hose, CEO of Rhapsody; and Philipp Humm, CEO of Vodafone Europe.
Issues on the agenda for the panel to mull over included the opportunity for mobile operators to become content providers with the rise of 4G and connected devices; consumer attitudes towards Quadplay and how mobile usage increases overall music consumption, thereby raising audience engagement.
Will.i.am, whose love of mobile and wearable technology is well documented, opened proceedings in his typically impassioned and articulate manner. He argued that the music industry is hardware; people just forget about it. Mobile is the newest, most exciting step in the music and hardware journey, and now we have the new phenomenon, ‘Screenagers’. These are people who live with multiple screens always on the go. “We need to figure new ways to communicate with them,” Will.i.am concluded.
Clearly, the music industry depends on hardware and software to enable consumers to consume its product. To that point, for example, Spotify has recently announced that it has over 15m paying subscribers and a further 60m active users (defined as users active within the previous 30 days). It also believes that many of these active subscribers can be moved to paying subscribers.
This proves the point that there is an appetite for streamed content which consumers are willing to pay for. But is the curation from companies such as Spotify, Rdio and Deezer what consumers are looking for, or is it more about the convenience of being able to access music across mobile devices?
80 per cent of internet users now own a smartphone, and 80 per cent of these use their device to search the internet, so connectivity via mobile devices can now be said to have reached and exceeded the tipping point predicted by industry analyst Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers back in 2008. Which means that music consumed via mobile is not a new thing, but something that has grown steadily over a number of years, to the point we are at now in the sector.
Rhapsody CEO David Hose added that “70 per cent of our customers use only mobile. So we partner with operators to deliver them over 30m songs, because for them mobile is their first internet service.” Whether a reiteration of the idiom “be where your customer is” or a bastardized ‘Art of War’ battle-cry to the entertainment sector to recognise where their intended audience actually exists, the sentiment rings true.
The ascendance of the multiscreen consumer is nothing new either, nor is the term ‘ScreenAgers’, first coined by Douglas Rushkoff in his 2006 book of the same name. But the idea that the mobile device is now the primary screen, over TV, is something that has been a cause for much discussion and debate in the last 18 months.
With this in mind, the point that Will.i.am makes for us as marketers and brand owners is that we need to adapt the way we try to reach and engage these consumers. TV creative and strategies are not directly transferable to mobile. We need to work out the best way to communicate, educate and empower our consumers to make decisions associated with our brands, in ways that add value to the experience they hold in their hands. After all, the mobile is the most personal item everyone carries every day and we expect them to open it up to us.
On the subject of different models of consumption, fuelled by a pickup in mobile usage, Rhapsody’s Hose made a poignant point. “The 99 Cent download killed the album. Streaming is bringing the album back by letting people explore more of the music they discover.”
With ever-improving 4G networks, (and possibly 5G by 2018), streaming, whether it’s music or movies, is becoming a much more viable option, but the question remains, will consumers be satisfied with streaming over ownership?
The concluding thought from this panel from my point of view? Mobile is the present and the future of entertainment. The entertainment industry’s aim has to be to provide an always-on service to fans hungry for ever-deeper and personally engaging content in all its wonderful forms, wherever they may be. As long as they can get a good signal…
This article originally appeared on Mobile Marketing Magazine