Music & Money: The Future Music Revenue Driver

By Ed Christman, N.Y.

The music business may be fighting for its life but the growing mobile component could become the industry’s revenue driver as application software technology is embraced by mobile phone users, according to panelists at the Billboard Music & Money Symposium.

Core Capital, Tom Wheeler

The application will rule in the coming world, not the technology or the network, and “for the music industry that is good news,” according to Core Capital Partners managing director Tom Wheeler.

Research In Motion has an application store planned, according to the company’s VP of global Alliances Jeff McDowell. Everything is about the experience of making the application set-up simple to use and for it to be integrated with other applications, he said. When the music industry moved from the analog world it lost the album cover and artwork, he said. But now he says the indsry can create a digital experience that is better than the one the industry had in the analog world through applications.

But “selling applications is not about making money,” for the Blackberry manufacturer, McDowell said. “Its about trying to create an eco-system” to help build a market.

Nokia executive VP of services Tero Ojanpero says Nokia sees opportunities to grow its revenue behind its “Comes With Music” service, in which 5 million-6 million songs are available for download for 12-24 months, depending on which program a carrier is offering. “We are all bombarded by content,” McDowell said. Nokia is working on a major initiative to put content into a context, according to McDowell.

For example, Nokia phone users may receive a song from Comes With Music that is tied into what a friend is doing, Ojanpero said. Or it might deliver a song to the Nokia device owner depending on where they are located. The delivery of that song to a Nokia phone device may come with the option of clicking to buy a ticket to the band’s show at a local concert hall. And the user can then find out where the hall is if unfamiliar with it, he explained.

Likewise Sony Music Entertainment also sees opportunities for applications. Recently, a Pink related application resulted in 150,000 downloads, said Sony Music Entertainment global digital business, U.S. sales president Thomas Hesse. He added that applications will help users to become emotionally connected to their favorite artists.

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