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Innovation in Digital Music Distribution and Promotion

August 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Following on from my recent post about the concept of innovation as something you do, and not just something you say, I came across an example of what I would consider innovation in action, courtesy of a newly launched digital music distribution / promotion service called Music2Text.

Music2text

Music2text Logo

According to their literature, Music2text is a service that provides artistes and labels with the ability to sell or giveaway music tracks direct to fans, via plain old SMS (or mobile text messages). The proposition is simple, and can be summarised in 3 steps, as follows:

 

  1. First, take an existing technology, SMS in this case, and figure out a new way to use it for mass music distribution and promotion
  2. Make sure the service is fast, free and easy to setup / use (e.g. within 30 minutes, if you already have all the prerequisite information / digital files to hand).
  3. Then monetise it by allowing punters to associate their music (ringtone or full song) with a simple keyword which the fans can then use to access it by texting that word to a number – 60444 (UK only, at this time). The service replies with a link through which the track can be downloaded, bought or shared with others.

 

The music owners can choose to distribute their music or ringtones for free, in which case the service is completely free to use, (including links to their favourite mobile and social media channels). In my opinion, this free aspect makes Music2Text an almost perfect mobile, distribution and social marketing tool, with something to offer all key stakeholders, including: music labels, publishers, artistes and their customers / fans.

 

That said, and in true reviewer fashion, I requested and was given a guided tour of the service by the founders, and I even went one better to upload one of my own tracks onto the service with the keyword ‘Bring’ (yes, I produce music in my not so spare time!). And you can try it out for yourself too, but please be kind if you spot my ringtone track, and wish to comment on it

 

Overall, I think this is an excellent proposition. However, it is still very much a start-up service, (albeit a brilliant / creative and enterprising one), with the usual minor teething problems you might expect. The monetisation element, with its 90 day keyword limit, makes this a likely vehicle for promotional / marketing applications (e.g. release promos, live tours and competitions etc.), which is no bad thing at all. The music industry revenue model is slowly embracing other sources of income e.g. live performance, streaming (see this post / infographic for recent trends), and now SMS could get onto that list, if this all works out.

 

So what makes this a real example of innovation, you might ask. Well, if you’ve heard the adage about putting new wine into old wineskins, then you might be forgiven for thinking that this proposition is doomed to failure. However, the ability to reuse / repurpose an existing, and possibly boring, technology to new and profitable ends is right to the heart of innovation, in my opinion. I say well done guys, and keep the UK innovation flag flying!

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Olympic Rights and the IP Roller Coaster – Bolt in Focus

August 13, 2012 1 comment

Last year, I wrote a post on the above topic discussing, among other things, the approach proposed by Games organisers to tackle such sharp practices as “ambush marketing” and “unfair association with the Games”. They even produced a list of restricted words and phrases (including: Olympic, Paralympic, London Games, 2012 etc) to protect brand exclusivity and sponsorship preorgatives. However, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and when the world’s fastest 100M athlete cheekily commandeered a photographer’s camera to take pictures of the photographers, spectators and fellow athletes, a rather interesting debate was ignited in a popular photography magazine forum, mainly about copyright and ownership rights of those pictures, which were subsequently published by the photographer in his own newspaper.

Images of / from Usain Bolt, the Photographer (*see below for image sources)

Images of & from Usain Bolt, the photographer (*see below for image sources)

The forum discussion can be found here, and it includes the following key questions:

  1. Who owns the rights to the pictures taken; Is it Usain Bolt, or the Photographer (i.e. owner of the camera and memory card)?
  2. Does the fact that the camera and memory card (including photographic data) remain property of the photographer have any bearing on rights ownership to Bolt’s pictures?
  3. Should Bolt have any right to the art (or computerised data) that he created on equipment he does not own? (this one prompted comparisons with a Banksy grafitti art on someone’s wall)
  4. Does the photographer’s publication of the picture (presumably without permission) violate Bolt’s rights as ‘artiste’, or arguably as copyright owner?
  5. What about the venue / organisers rules and conditions regarding accredited photographers and their works?

All very good questions, and no doubt something a good IP lawyers can argue for and / or against, depending on who is paying the fees, but suffice it to say that the best comment, in my opinion, came from a forum member who reminded others that “copyright subsists upon the creation of the art…” and that it rightfully belongs to the individual creating the art, i.e. Usain Bolt, in this instance. Furthermore, I would add that the author of an original work, even if not the copyright owner, also has the moral right to seek redress against any objectionable use of the work.

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*Images sourced, from left to right:

Were You Inspired?

August 13, 2012 3 comments

The end of a successful London 2012 Olympics, heralds a return to reality not least for the people of London who played host to the world for two straight weeks. Numerous events, achievements and incidents occurred during the week, but a critical factor for me was the superb organisation which provide some great lessons for any business to embrace and emulate.

Sunset at the Olympic Park

Sunset at the Olympic Park

Below are four great lessons from the London 2012 Olympic Games:

  1. Never promise too much – the organisers of London 2012 did not promise more than they could deliver. In fact, the closing ceremony performance at the Beijing 2008 Games gave little hint of what was to come as the Olympic flag was handed over to London Mayor, Boris Johnson
  2. Wow them with your opener – The opening ceremony for London 2012 was a real eye opener for people on just what the Games could deliver, and they did not disappoint.
  3. Deliver the goods – The most important part of the Olympics are the games, and London 2012 successfully delivered in terms of: organisation, audience participation (apart from early issues with rare tickets vs. empty seats), television coverage (the BBC coverage was outstanding), and a remarkable medal haul for the host nation.
  4. Be gracious in your exit – The games concluded with a music laden closing ceremony, and the Olympic flag was passed with some aplomb to Brazil, the next host nation which also gave a taste of what to expect in Rio de Janeiro come 2016. Even the departure experience at Heathrow Airport was something to write home about.

“Successful”, “fantastic”, “enjoyable”, “brilliant” were some of the descriptive words used by athletes, volunteers, organisers and spectators at these last Games, and those are words that any business should like to hear coming from their clients, customers, employees and partners.