Well yesterday (Thursday) The Music Void were very busy attending the London Calling music industry conference. Most of the day was spent video interviewing senior executives from the music industry and also mobile and digital space (watch this space for when the video interviews will be posted on The Music Void). I did however happen to catch two conference sessions. The first was a keynote from Martin Blomkvist at Sony Ericsson. The second was a panel following on from Martin’s keynote focusing on the future of mobile music.
Martin was very keen to street the importance of the music industry changing its current strategy and focus ion investing in lots of new business models. It was stated that there was a 20:1 ratio in terms of illegal P2P versus legal downloads. It was also made clear that a tendency to only look at one solution at a time is not good and that music content owners, handset manufacturers and operators need to look at all options and not focus on only one.
He then went on to outline how Sony Ericsson was addressing the consumer ease of use equation. The Sony Ericsson track ID in partnership with Gracenote on first look seemed like a great new service, especially when it was tied into the ability to find out what the track is (similar to SHAZAM in that sense) and then listen to the track from Sony Ericsson music store with a third click to purchase. In my mind it does seem a fully integrated service.
The panel included Andrew Fisher the CEO of Shazam, Richard Wheeler the Head of Music at Orange, Luke Magnuson International category manager at T-Mobile, Scott Lyons Director Ecosystem Market Development Team, Gareth Currie, Director at Gulp Marketing and finally Gerard Grech, Chairman MEF EMEA.
So, the panel was chock full of operators, handset manufacturers and mobile service providers and industry bodies. However, since its focus was on the future of mobile music, I was surprised that there was not a record label on the panel and to me this was a gap. It would have been good to hear a record companies view of the future of mobile music.
However, the panel was still extremely insightful. The issue of UI and the fact that ease of use has been a problem both at handset manufacturers and operators was discussed. The iPhone was widely praised for pushing the standard of user experience in the mobile realm. Interoperability between operators and handsets alike was also discussed. Scott Lyons made a very key point that we “need less formats not more”. Gareth Currie also made the key statement that only 20% of music content on mobile phones is purchased via retail services with the remaining 80% being side-loaded.
A discussion ensued focusing on subscription models and how the online experience of such models had been “difficult”, but that new mobile services were evolving and there was much confidence that they would prove to me more successful than the online version. In Martin Blomkvist views mobile music subscription will work if it is offered in a “convenient environment”.
Overall, in the exhibition area footfall seemed to be down in comparison to 2007. Yet the panels were visibly busier than last year. I think this a sign that the conference programme is getting traction at London calling. A run-down of Friday 20th June at London Calling will be posted soon.