Let’s change the record on mobile music services

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I had the pleasure of sitting on the judging panel for an awards for mobile content and commerce earlier this week, selecting the shortlist for the best mobile music services the globe has to offer. But while some of the entries were inspired, innovative and now on my smartphone, far too many had simply missed the beat.

I was particularly baffled by some of the services mobile operators and manufacturers had launched in a bid to reduce their churn of customers and boost brand loyalty.

Apple launched its online music download service iTunes almost a decade ago in 2003. Spotify launched its Digital Rights Management (DRM)-based music streaming service in 2008. Both migrated to mobile what seems like aeons ago in what is such a fast-paced market.

Yet in 2011, mobile operators from across the globe are still launching their own “me too” downloads and DRM services, adding little extra value to the mobile music market.

Mobile consumers have already chosen the services they want to use to listen to music on the go, yet these mobile brands seem convinced they can pull in music fans.

Consumers trust the aforementioned music brands to provide such services and are unlikely to be enthused by the fact that their mobile operators or manufacturers are launching copycat apps that fail to offer anything new, anything cheaper, or anything with more choice.

In the UK, almost ever major mobile operator has pegged an affinity to music in some way.

O2 is a sponsor of Academy venues across the country, Orange has its Rockcorps campaign in association with BlackBerry that gifts volunteers with gig tickets, T-Mobile is famous for its dance and music-based flashmobs and Vodafone festoons festivals with its branding.

Yet some of the above and operators across the globe are failing to leverage these affinities when it comes to inspiring mobile offerings.

Music is not all in the tracks: it’s the live experience, the backstory behind a B-side, finding out your favourite frontman grew up in your hometown, downloading a guitar tab, tour t-shirts from ’86, owning that limited edition blue vinyl, mashups, breakups and hardcore fan meetups.

Mobile operators have the scale and the data about their customers to offer them all of the above and more when it comes to their music services. They can afford to be a little more creative.

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