Tag Archives: mobile

The Record Label of the Future. Lean. Mobile. App-enabled. Social. Real-time.

Mobile killed the radio star

Last night, I had a conversation with my mentee, Chris Anokute, the (now) Senior VP A&R at Island DefJam Records.

We’re on two different coasts, and don’t get to talk as frequently as we did when he was still in NY.

So our conversations tend to go on for hours.

Yesterday was no exception.

His label recently exercised the renewal option on his contract, and he wondered aloud, what the future held for him at the label.

At any label for that matter.

As we talked about his options – stay at the label, entertain offers from others, pool a few investors and set up his own company – the discussion invariably turned to what the future music industry would look like.

I told him that the music industry, as we know it, is dead.

Record labels are the walking dead.

Artists who are still trying to catch that brass ring, a record deal, are disillusioned zombies.

The future of music lies in embracing technology.

Period.

Any label exec, artist or producer, whose strategy isn’t explicitly tied to leveraging technology should call it quits – now.

2012 was the first time that digital music sales topped physical sales.

Worldwide, digital music sales exceeded $10B.

This trend is only going to continue.

And while the record labels are still giving out plaques for physical sales records, unsigned artists are generating revenues in the hundreds of thousands.

Without labels.

When he asked what the record label of the 21st century looked like, I told him.

And now I’m telling you.

1. It’s lean. Record labels today are bloated with unnecessary and often duplicative staff. You only need a few cats, who know their shit, to run a label effectively. A good A&R, product/project manager, marketing & PR specialist, radio promotions & street team, and a techie. Add a publishing guru, competent counsel, an anal accountant, a few eager beaver interns (for grunt work) and you’re set.

2. It’s mobile. There are more mobile phones than people on earth. But the labels don’t know that. Visit any label’s website from your phone. Universal Music Group, Virgin Records, Capitol Records, Epic Records, Island Records, Sony BMG, EMI, Warner Music Group. Not one of them – NOT ONE – had a mobile website. Or rather, not one of them had a site that was enabled to auto detect mobile browsers and render the appropriate content for the device viewing the site. If you’re going to connect with fans, you’ve got to make your site easy to navigate from a mobile device. a full HTML site on a phone is a shitty experience. Can we say “increased bounce rate”?

3. It’s app-enabled. I remember trying to convince Chris that he should drop an app when he released his next artist’s single. He told me (to my shock and horror – and I’m paraphrasing now) “apps are for established acts only.” That was the label talking – not Chris. Like hell! One thing that should accompany the release of every new artist is a free app. The app should be your personal portal into your favorite artist’s world. At a minimum, the app should include the artist’s bio, picture gallery, discography, music videos, songs, Twitter stream, and upcoming show dates. The app should have e-commerce capabilities, allowing a user to purchase a song, tickets to a show, or any media/content available for sale.

4. It’s social. Social media and music fit together like a hand in glove. Listening, discovering, sharing, liking are all the things fans do with their music. Apps like Spotify, Pandora and Last.fm let you stream music and share what you’re streaming/listening to via social media. Social media makes it so much easier to let your personal network know what you’re into and get them into it too. Labels of the future should make sure that everything they do is equipped to leverage social media to the fullest.

5. It’s real time. Labels are always whining about leaks and lost sales due to content being pirated and available to the public before its been officially released. You know how you prevent that? Make content available to consumers as soon as its ready! Artists are prolific, and production costs are remarkably low. So instead of trying to filter music before its released, release it and let the public decide what they want to pay for. Rabid fans want it all, even the crap. Look at all those Prince and the New Power Generation (NPG) albums that Warner Bros. sold. Not his best work, but you couldn’t tell Prince fans that.

The record label of the future is one that acts like a unified system, providing fans with seamless unobstructed access to the artists on the label.

In the second coming of the record labels, websites will be a one-stop shop, where you can browse artists, listen to music, watch streaming videos, download songs right to your device (and have them perpetually available in the cloud for future download/use on as many devices as you own), comment, like, favorite and share via any of your social media profiles.

They’ll rely less and less on iTunes, and as a result, see more profits as fans start purchasing digital music directly from the labels (again) and not from resellers.

Their marketing will be personal and focus on the mobile device and a primary point of entry.

They’ll operate less like record labels, and more like software companies, continually tweaking and updating their offerings to give their users the best user experience possible.

The 360 degree contract was the record label’s reaction to the fact that they weren’t recouping the bloated album budgets from record sales.

Tomorrow’s label has to be more focused on creating alternate revenue streams for the content they produce, and less reliant on the artist’s alternate sources of income.

Video games, toys, digital greeting cards, third-party apps, all represent new opportunities for labels to leverage their catalogues.

Needless to say, I’ve got opinions.

Chris and I will talk again.

And I will give him another earful.

But for now, you’re dismissed.

I hope you were taking notes.

10 Comments

Filed under apps, digital advocacy, mobile, music, opinion

Is Google Play the App Store Killer?

Will Google Play unseat the champion?

Google is trying to dethrone Apple for dominance in the app market.

Although Android’s smartphone marketshare far exceeds that of Apple (I think it’s currently approaching 50%), Google’s app store has not seen a commensurate level of success.

The iTunes App Store continues to dwarf the Android App store, and Google is looking to change that.

Yesterday, FierceMobileContent reported that Google is about to scrap the Android app store in favor of Google Play, which is being positioned to compete more effectively with Apple.

Google Play will be a combination of the Android App Market, Google Music and Google’s eBookstore, effectively mirroring Apple’s App Store, iTunes and iBook offerings.

Google Play will give users the ability to access all of their content in the cloud, from any of their connected devices.

Here’s a short video from Google’s blog (obtusely) promoting Google Play.

The video is a well-crafted pitch, but the absence of a real-life demonstration of their offering left me scratching my head.

With iCloud purportedly providing the same level of capability (seamless access to your content across multiple devices, etc.), Google Play is definitely designed to be a head-to-head competitor.

According to Google, current Android App Market customers will be upgraded to Google Play over the course of the next few days.

As an Applephile or Apple purist, I’m simply not convinced that Google Play (or anything Android-related for that matter) can hold a candle to Apple.

Having handled an Android device or two in my day, I can definitively say that the user experience leaves much to be desired.

Perhaps Google Play will create a more seamless experience for Android users –  at least as it relates to accessing and interacting with their content – but I doubt it.

Either way, I’m not sure that this move will really make Google any more competitive in the app market.

As they say, you can lead a horse to water…

…but can you make them download more apps?

Hey, what do I know?

If you’re an Android user, I’d love to hear if this announcement excites you (or not) and how Google Play will (or won’t) impact you.

5 Comments

Filed under apps, branding, mobile, technology

Home Shopping Apps. HSN’s got the goods. Literally.

Home shopping on steroids!

I’m not an avid shopper.

Every once in a while, I’ll hit the store to pick up an item or two.

Most of my shopping is done online, and in response to a real need.

Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, etc., are when my shopping cap goes on, and I generally handle my business.

So shopping (outside of essentials) is never high on my list of priorities.

But that’s just me.

There’s a whole other world of shoppers, who take shopping very seriously: the home shopper.

If you’re into home shopping, then anytime is a good time to shop.

If there’s a bargain, you’re looking for it.

While shopping used to require getting into the car and heading to a mall, strip mall, flea market, or consignment store, the home shopper now has a number of different outlets for getting their shopping on (and I’m not talking catalogues either).

QVC, HSN and ShopNBC are probably some of the most well known brands in home shopping.

They’ve each got channels devoted entirely to giving shoppers steep discounts on everything from watches to sewing machines.

They also have websites, which allow visitors to browse items featured on the network, as well as other special offers.

But more importantly, each of them has a branded app, which allows you to shop directly from your iPhone, iPad or Android device, while you’re away from your television or home computer.

ShopNBC does the best job of promoting the fact that they’ve got apps.

ShopNBC does the best job of letting you know they've got apps.

The link to the iOS or Android version of their app is conspicuously located in the bottom left corner of the home page, alongside ShopNBC’s other social media links.

Although you’ve got to scroll to the bottom of the page to see this section, the iPhone and Android logos point to the fact that they’ve got apps.

And while they don’t promote the fact that they’ve got a mobile version of their site too, they do.

HSN’s apps are promoted in a similar fashion as ShopNBC, but not quite as well.

Although it's not explicit, HSN lets you know they've got something for mobile.

The mobile phone logo, appears in a banner below the fold of the page, under the title “HSN Everywhere”.

But where HSN falls short in the visual promotion, it more than makes up for it with the breadth and depth of it’s mobile app offering.

HSN has apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, Nokia, Windows Mobile 7 and offers a mobile web version of their site and an SMS service.

QVC does the worst job of promoting the fact that it’s got a mobile offering.

C'mon QVC! You've got to do better than this! Site map, really?

The link to their mobile app is buried in the site map, located at the bottom of the home page, with no icons and even less fanfare.

QVC only offers an iPhone version of their app, and they don’t have a mobile site at all.

I took each of the apps for a test drive to see how well they were built.

I didn’t buy anything mind you, but I did check out what they had to offer.

As expected, each of the apps let you to make in-app purchases.

They also have a ‘watch now’ or ‘live’ feature that lets you to follow along with the network programming directly from your device.

There is a short time delay between the live show and the mobile version, but it’s not material.

But there are material differences in how the live viewing options work on the respective apps.

HSN does the best job for a few reasons, including the fact that it utilizes the accelerometer of the iOS devices, allowing you to watch in both landscape and portrait modes.

HSN's app is the hands down fave!

The menus and content streams, that frame the viewing area, adjust, letting you expand or collapse the screen to watch in full screen/partial screen mode.

While HSN gives you multiple viewing options, ShopNBC’s live viewing is only viewable in full screen landscape mode.

And unlike the HSN app, you’ve got to quit the video, in order to interact with any other content on their app.

QVC’s iPhone app works similarly to HSN’s and is viewable in both landscape or portrait mode.

In landscape mode, the dash slides away letting you watch full screen.

Sorry QVC, but watching TV on the iPhone simply isn't the move. Make an iPad app!

But after experiencing HSN and ShopNBC’s apps in the larger form factor of the iPad, watching QVC’s show on the iPhone was markedly underwhelming.

Each of these apps had their pluses. But hands down, HSN is clearly the most progressive and forward thinking of these home shopping networks.

They have the most comprehensive suite of options for accessing their brand.

Notwithstanding my critiques, each of these brands are clearly thinking about how to help shoppers get the most out of their connected devices.

And at the end of the day, if you’re a ‘shoppy’, you should be over the moon!

Leave a comment

Filed under apps, branding, iPad, iPhone, mobile, opinion, technology

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners! Spread the Word!

A few days ago, the New York Times posted an interview of my client, Shola Lynch about her experiences as a high school and collegiate athlete, and how the competition that sports foster helped her to become a successful individual.

If you don’t know who Shola Lynch is yet, then (1) you clearly haven’t been reading my blog, and (2) you wouldn’t know that she is an award-winning filmmaker working on her second documentary film.

The reason I’m so excited is that Shola actually talked about her film, Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, in the NY Times article!!!

Free Angela is a documentary that chronicles the real-life drama surrounding the manhunt, arrest, trial and eventual acquittal of Angela Davis in 1972.

Love this logo design by Little Grey House!

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the acquittal of this political activist, educator and author, and the film is nearing completion.

You must know that I’ve been actively working on developing Shola’s online, mobile and social media strategy for the film.

We’ve already got a Facebook page, Twitter account and a landing page up for folks to sign up to get more info about the film.

We’re actively working on launching the website and mobile site (and hopefully a mobile app), as well as a promotional mix-tape and soundtrack. I can barely contain my excitement whenever I think about the music – but I digress.

I harass her constantly about letting the world know all the wonderful things that have been happening behind the scenes.

Like the fact that Vernon Reid is composing music for the score, and a few power house filmmakers (whose names I can’t mention yet) have already shown the movie love.

I’m all over her to post updates to Facebook, tweet and generally tell the world about the film.

In all fairness to Shola, she has been editing the movie, and she’s currently in Oakland, where she just shared the movie with Angela.

There is so much great iconic art of Angela out there!

And to her credit, Shola likes to have her hands in everything related to her films (as should any good filmmaker), so I can’t be too hard on her.

And she’s getting better about posting and tweeting, and generally not holding (too many) things too close to the vest.

But now that the cat’s out of the bag, I’m going to be all over her to make sure that we let everyone know that the film is nearly done!

I’ve already sent her an agenda for our next meeting when she get’s back from Oakland.

I’m not even the first blogger to talk about the fact that the cat’s out of the bag.

Indie Wire reported yesterday that the film is almost done, and that they’re looking forward to it too.

With independent films, buzz like this is invaluable.

And using personal networks and social media are essential.

Unlike the big production studios, which have millions of dollars to make and promote films, independent filmmakers have to be much more resourceful (and scrappy) not only to make their films, but to get them before audiences.

More likely than not, you won’t see most independent films on the big screens of AMC or Clearview.

You might catch them in a festival or art house theater, because unfortunately, independent films don’t get the love of their better financed feature-film cousins.

But that doesn’t mean that they don’t do well.

Quite the contrary, an independent film, that leverages the filmmaker’s personal network and the power of social media, can do quite well.

One of Shola’s good friends (and fellow filmmaker) Ava Duvernay is proof positive of this paradigm.

Ava DuVernay is a recent Sundance Film Festival award winner.

Ava is an award-winning filmmaker herself.

Her films have done remarkably well, and her innovative approach to marketing and promoting independent films led to the creation of AFFRM, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, which gives independent black filmmakers access to wider screening.

The beautiful Michaela Angela Davis is part of Shola's sista girl squad.

And Shola’s ‘sista girl’ squad is full of social media heavy hitters, like Michaela Angela Davis and Sidra Smith, who all love Shola, and are ready, willing and able to help her spread the word about her film.

Sidra Smith is another beautiful member of Shola's sista girl squad.

We’re working on quite a few tasty treats to help grow our audience online.

So far, we’ve got about 650 fans on the Facebook page, and (a measly) 79 followers on Twitter but we’re actively growing those numbers.

We’re asking folks to visit both pages and share! share! share!

I’ll be sure to let you know when the trailer is available, and when we launch some of these online campaigns for the film, so stay tuned!

1 Comment

Filed under branding, digital advocacy, social media

QR Codes or SnapTags: What’s Better For Your Brand?

Which is better?

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the different tools brands could use for mobile engagement of their audiences.

Two of those tools, QR codes and SnapTags, generated a slight buzz, and I thought I’d explore them a bit deeper today.

Kris was definitely not checking for QR codes.

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen or heard all about QR codes.

They’re those strange looking blocks with squiggly lines and boxes inside of them.

They’re on magazines, in subways, on business cards, the sides of soda cans, on posters, even in commercials and television programs.

If you’ve got a QR code reader on your mobile phone, you can snap a QR code, and unlock a text message, a picture or be navigated to a static web page, video or trigger an mp3.

SnapTags are a little more sophisticated than they’re less aesthetic cousin.

SnapTags are rings, with visual information aligned in a pattern of bars and breaks, that impacts what content is accessed by a compatible reader app.

What makes SnapTags unique is the fact that each tag also has a unique short code, enabling people without smart phones to send and receive text messages which will connect them with the associated campaign.

Both QR Codes and SnapTags accomplish essentially the same thing: navigating the user to a particular destination or piece of content.

So which is better?

To hear Spyderlynk tell it, SnapTags are better.

Among the reasons they give for why, include:

Better looking. Why have a blurry blog of blocks, when you can promote your complete logo (in a ring)?

Easier to use. Unlike QR Codes, which require a QR code reader, SnapTags work with any camera phone that can send and receive texts.

Web not required. SnapTags work whether you have an internet connection or not. If you can send and receive a text, you can still take advantage of SnapTags.

Comprehensive analytics. Because SnapTags can be triggered in multiple ways, you can generate and track layered analytics.

SnapTag's self-serving diagram.

Despite their superior looks, ease of use and utility with or without an internet connection, SnapTags do have their drawbacks.

For one, they’re not free. In order to create a SnapTag and utilize it, you’ve got to pay Spyderlynk to set up a campaign for you.

Since they don’t publish their prices on their website, we can assume it’s not cheap.

QR Codes, on the other hand, are free, and don’t require any elaborate set up to enable.

A second shortcoming is the fact that SnapTags are proprietary. You can only create a SnapTag through Spyderlynk, and (presumably) every new campaign requires a new ring.

QR Codes aren’t quite ‘open-source’ but there are a number of free QR Code generators, and you can create as many different codes for as many different campaigns as you can dream up.

Finally, SnapTags are relatively new and not particularly widespread. While several major campaigns have used SnapTags (Neutrogena, Coors Light, Toyota), there’s no rush on them quite yet.

QR Codes have been around for several years, and although they are not the dominant standard, they are very well recognized and heavily used.

I, for one, think SnapTags are pretty fresh. The multiple things you can do, the aesthetic appeal, the ability to maximize the full breadth of mobile marketing, truly make it a marketers playground.

If you’re thinking about jumping in to mobile marketing, and don’t know whether QR Codes or SnapTags are right for you, try them both out and decide for yourself.

If you’ve got any questions, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll see if I can help you decide!

1 Comment

Filed under branding, mobile, opinion

Starters+Startups: The Future of SoLoMo and You

I just got off a planning call with the founders of ScenePR for their January 25th event that I’ll be moderating entitled, Starters+Startups: The Future of SoLoMo & You.

Starters+Startups: The Future of SoLoMo & You!

ScenePR is a business network organization started by Daron Jenkins and Virginia Chu.

They formed ScenePR to help successful business owners, professionals, senior level executives and entrepreneurs stay abreast of the ever-changing technology landscape.

The SoLoMo event is part of a series of events that they put on to unite and educate their membership, initiate professional dialogue, spark thought provoking conversations and create opportunities for professional growth.

The panel, which is being held at the ShowBiz Store and Cafe, located at 19 West 21st Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, features executives of Wyst.itTaap.it and WeMakeCoolSh.it, which are three innovative brands doing progressive things with social media, location and mobile.

Duy Huynh, the CEO of Taap.it, Matthew McGregor-Mento and Mark Krawczuk, co-founders of WeMakeCoolSh.it, and brothers Yago Amerlinck Huerta and Iker Amerlinck Huerta, co-founders of Wyst.it are the featured speakers at the event.

These CEOs and founders will talk about their respective missions and how they arrived at the ideas that launched their businesses.

They’ll also talk about how their ideas and businesses evolved and changed, how people are connecting now and their visions of social/mobile/local interactions in the future.

The session will be very Tedx, and presenters will each have 15 minutes to talk about the projects/products.

My contribution to the jam will (hopefully) be to wrap up the presentations and help guide the post-presentation Q&A session with the audience.

The founders are hoping that the takeaway for attendees will be an in-depth understanding of the present and future states of SoLoMo, which they acknowledge is both dynamic and growing.

If you’re going to be in the NYC area on January 25, I invite you to attend. You can register here.

Leave a comment

Filed under social media, technology

What’s Playing? Get the !mpulse!

One of the main projects I’ve been working on, is a technology initiative called !mpulse.

“What’s !mpulse?” you ask.

!mpulse is an interactive platform that let’s you experience a venue’s music library directly from your internet/wi-fi enabled mobile or tablet device.

!mpulse enables people to discover and get music wherever they hear it.

!mpulse displays the currently playing, and the previous nine (9) songs played at an !mpulse-enabled venue.

Wi-Fi capable mobile devices, like the iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry and Android devices, can immediately display the song that is currently playing, comment on, share via Facebook or Twitter, or even play the song right from their device.

By bridging the gap between desire and action, !mpulse also allows users to explore a venue, its music library, or the particular artist which inspired them in the first place.

We’ve rolled at !mpulse (Beta) at a few select destinations, including Red Rooster Harlem, Tillman’s NYC and we’re rolling out Townhouse Hotel in Miami, 1300 Fillmore in San Francisco and more locations to be announced shortly.

Here are a few screen shots of !mpulse.

A screenshot of Townhouse Hotel's !mpulse page.

Select a song from the playlist and you'll get this page.

If you’re ever in New York, Harlem, Miami or San Francisco, please stop into one of these establishments and take !mpulse for a spin.

If you aren’t planning on being in any of these destinations, I’ve got a treat for you…snap either of the QR codes in this post, and you’ll be able to enjoy !mpulse on your own.

If you want to listen to a song, simply click on the album art to start playback.

Please send me your comments and let me know what you think!

4 Comments

Filed under branding, mobile, technology

Talking Strategy with the Digital Strategist

I know, I know.

I haven’t posted in a while.

But I have a perfectly good excuse – I’ve been busy.

I really have!

It’s not really a good excuse, but I use it every time I get lax in my blogging.

And it’s been almost four months, so I need to act like I give a sh*t!

So anyway, I just did an interview with David Muhammad, Founder/CEO/Chief Strategist of MadisonDavid Digital, and host of The Digital Strategist, a program on SOMAtv, the public access channel of South Orange and Maplewood.

Now it’s not 60 minutes, and the set leaves something to be desired.

But the conversation with David is insightful, and I wax digital, mobile and me.

We talk about my start in the digital space, working with Digiwaxx, Marksmen Productions and my perspectives on mobile application development.

It’s 28 minutes long, but believe me, it goes quickly!

Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under branding, mobile, technology

Go mobile or go the way of the dinosaur.

Ad & Marketing Industry News

Last night, I read an article in AdAge about how both Google and Facebook were staking their respective futures on mobile, and how mobile was increasingly becoming the foundation of their efforts.

The Marksmen are a production unit ahead of their time.

Since 2005, when I started working with The Marksmen, developing applications that could be accessed and utilized from mobile devices (it all started with the Treo), I knew that mobile represented the future of computing.

Notice I said “computing” as opposed to content consumption or the internet, because with the advent of the smartphone, there are fewer and fewer things that one can do exclusively on a PC that can’t be done on a mobile device.

It was while at DOT.TUNES that I cut my mobile teeth.

From there it was DOT.TUNES, the first mobile application developed for the iPhone BEFORE the release of the iPhone SDK, which allowed users to remotely access their entire iTunes library directly from their mobile devices (even if it wasn’t an iPhone – holla!).

I even did a stint at MX Telecom (now OpenMarket), one of the largest mobile aggregators in the world, to learn about the ins-and-outs of the mobile industry, from the perspective of the underlying technology behind SMS/MMS/PSMS/Wap, mobile billing, etc.

Ever since, I have been preaching about the importance of mobile to anyone who would listen.

I tell virtually all the clients I consult, that they need to adopt a mobile strategy.

Set up a basic SMS service.

Build a mobile version (or mobile optimized version) of your website.

Create a brand specific mobile app.

Do anything to incorporate some mobile elements to your brand identity or risk going the way of the dinosaur.

I’m saying, if Google and Facebook are banking so heavily on it, doesn’t it seem to make good business sense?

They’re only multi-billion dollar companies.

Clearly, there is some wisdom to their actions.

WeHarlem knows mobile. Do you WeHarlem?

Recently, I’ve been speaking with Sergio Lilavois, one of the founding partners of WeHarlem, an interactive e-community for those that live, work or socialize in Harlem.

WeHarlem has launched several innovative initiatives directed squarely at harnessing and applying the power of mobile devices.

They have a social media website, WeHarlem.com, which links residents and local businesses.

In addition, they developed device specific applications, for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices, giving WeHarlem users the ability to access all of WeHarlem’s features on-the-go.

One of the most valuable features of WeHarlem’s mobile app, is the Wi-Fi locator, which enables users to find Harlem businesses offering free Wi-Fi in their establishments.

WeHarlem’s strategy involves providing Harlem residents and businesses with bi-directional utility, generating foot-traffic, loyalty and retention.

We’re in discussions right now to help bring businesses even deeper into the fold, by offering services to enable them to more closely connect with their target audiences using mobile and social media technology.

There have been other shining moments, when the strategies I propose actually gain a foothold.

Vincent Morgan, for example, knew immediately that he wanted it all, a mobile version of his primary website and an SMS alert service.

Although he failed in his efforts to dethrone Charles Rangel, he succeeded in rewriting the way candidates utilize the web, social media and mobile in their campaigns.

Anyway, the AdAge article renewed my passion for evangelizing mobile and I will continue to preach the value of mobile to all who will listen!

1 Comment

Filed under branding, technology