Friday, February 08, 2008

Music as you move

The music industry and the mobile phone industry are quite close, with the big labels believing that mobile is the future, and that it's a future which will be tightly locked down and closed off. Like a lot of people, they seem not to realise that the more mobile devices there are, the greater the demand for interoperability, and that, eventually, what they see as the "mobile sector" will simply be the internet on small screens and not some glorious walled garden where an album is worth fifteen quid.

A good example of why the closed-up mobile world is a dead end can be found in this week's Guardian Technology supplement where the Technophile column attempts to buy a tune from Vodaphone on a mobile handset:

I tried to do a search through the music library. Tab down through the fields ... is that the search field? OK, Kanye West. That's K-A-N- oh, boring, my phone doesn't know it, I have to spell the word. Ah, Kanye West. Do I want to buy the ringtone for £2? No, buy wallpaper for something else? No, buy another ringtone for ...? Could I just buy the song now? Finally. Download. "Interrupted." Damn. Retry. Go through the payment process again. (Again?) Download. "Interrupted." Damn. Retry. Payment. Download. Success! Play. "You now need to validate your purchase. You will get a text message and then the track will play."

There might be a couple of years where this sort of thing is the norm - but, in the midterm, people who want music on the move will get out their touch-sensitive device and do exactly the same as they'd do on their desktop. Seeing 'mobile' as something separate from the proper internet is like hoping their might be a 'laptop music market' that could be protected from everything else.

Still, there is a small window of opportunity for supernormal profits, and it's being taken: Nokia have attempted to convince the world of their bona fides by creating a high-minded "Advisory Council", with Dave Stewart on board:
Legendary musician, producer and songwriter Dave Stewart is joining forces with Tero Ojanpera, executive vice president and head of the new Nokia Entertainment & Communities business group, to create The Nokia Artists' Advisory Council, tasked with helping to create an artist friendly environment inside the company, ensuring the artists' point of view is represented in creating new content business paradigms.

Doesn't it make you feel all warm inside to know that the new content business paradigms are going to include "the artists' points of view" in some way? Albeit filtered through Dave Stewart, who used to use the Brits as a platform to talk about pissing himself, if memory serves.

We've actually got a lot of time for Stewart, but it's hard to believe that this is anything other than the sort of advisory group many businesses create to offer a semblance of doing something for the greater good while bit really doing anything much. After all, if they're really wanting to hear "the artist's" viewpoint, why is a Nokia executive vice president part of the team?

1 comment:

Spence said...

Is this the same kind of advisory group the Labour party had Mick Hucknall signed up for? And what happened to that exactly? Too much talk, too little action.

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