Music brands eye innovation in government-backed initiative

Music and retail brands including HMV, Warner/Chappell Music and Elton John’s management firm have selected a host of start-up partners to align their physical and digital business arms.


The government-backed scheme saw six music brands, also participating were BBC Promos, Decca Classics and music venue The Bedford, tasked developers as part of the IC Tomorrow scheme funded by the Technology Strategy Board to the tune of £150,000.

Both HMV and Rocket Management (the management company behind artists such as Elton John and Ed Sheeran) chose NFC-based proposals with the retailer offering incentives for checking-in using NFC tags – either in the form of a card, wristband or mobile app.

James Flett, HMV’s partnerships manager, says: “For multichannel retailers such as HMV, mobile is vital. It both blurs and enhances the two traditional sales channels of bricks and mortar stores and ecommerce websites. 

“The technology that’s used in today’s smartphones can bring a new level of engagement to our physical high st stores and outdoor media assets.

“We were overwhelmed with the quality of all the finalists but felt that Zappit [the developer appointed by HMV] responded to the brief in a very innovative way, utilising their expertise in NFC while matching our objectives as a retailer.”

Meanwhile, Rocket will explore using NFC tags and QR codes on merchandise, such as band T-shirts, to encourage interaction with artists through its appointment of UK-based Qodo.

For instance, a user could scan a tag and then join an online community of likeminded fans, etc, with the artist interacting with the group, etc.

Warner/Chappell Music will partner with Soniqplay, the start-up behind Kiss FM’s Remix app, to develop a play-along app, under the working name of CentreStage, that will let budding musicians play practise its artist’s tracks.

Elsewhere, Decca Classics will work work with an individual developer to encourage its existing audience to migrate their collections to digital as part of the scheme.

Meanwhile, the BBC Proms will work with a development team from Caper to produce a digital property called Promdezvous aimed at helping to build a digital community around the concerts before, during and after the event.

Andrew Downs, content producer at the BBC, says: “The Proms has always about making classical accessible as diverse an audience as possible, we’ve been on a journey to develop the digital experience since 2010 and thought this was one of the best ways to achieve this [using social].”

The developer partners were selected yesterday after a two-month process with each of them expected to produce functioning prototypes by mid 2013 with the scheme forming part of the Technology Strategy Board’s attempts to drive the UK’s digital industry.

Matt Sansam, programme manager at IC tomorrow, adds: “Successful applicants retain the rights to their intellectual property and will now work closely with the contest partners and IC Tomorrow to take their ideas to the next stage of commercialisation.

“This will help with many of the challenges start-ups face in the early days – all with the view to cultivate an idea which can be used with not just the contest challenge partner but potentially across the sector and wider creative industries.”

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