Music labels reach fans with multiplatform apps

Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:38am EST
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By Antony Bruno

DENVER (Billboard) - The app is far too powerful a tool to be limited to mobile phones.

In 2010, the developer and music industries took bold steps to apply this burgeoning distribution model to a range of new devices and platforms. Take Pandora, the personalized Internet radio service that became the killer app for music on the iPhone when it was first introduced in 2008. Having expanded to every available smart-phone platform, the Pandora app has since jumped to such new devices as the iPad, Internet-connected TVs and even automobiles, as more consumer electronics device manufacturers eagerly enter the app game.

"The smart-phone phenomenon is the catalyst for all this stuff," Pandora founder Tim Westergren says. "It got consumers to begin using apps in all of these places, whether it was taking an iPhone and plugging it into the dashboard or docking it into your stereo system. So that caused all these other device manufacturers to accelerate their own app plans."

At the same time, record labels seeking new methods of distribution and marketing found the multiplatform app environment a perfect solution for reaching fans across the digital landscape. Artist apps that began as simple website clones are now far more engaging experiences -- be it a mobile app, a social game or a dedicated channel on Internet TV services.

"It's my focus and my team's focus to extend app development to all platforms," Island Def Jam (IDJ) senior VP of digital and business development Jon Vanhala says. "It's especially important to find fans where they're living."

Where are they living? Here's a quick snapshot of the new app platforms that emerged this year and how they're shaping the future of digital music strategy.


"I've got 50 app treatments in my inbox for the iPad," Vanhala says. "If this was all I did, I'd be busy."   Continued...