Record labels eye mobile music games
As CD sales falls, bands find new market among gamers.
(Page 2 of 2)
“There’s a big revenue stream here, certainly,” says Windsor Holden, the principal analyst at Juniper Research, a telecommunications firm that specializes in mobile technology. “Initially, labels were very, very wary of entering this space. There were issues of [digital rights management], and even then, the labels wanted such a cut of the revenue, that the [mobile] operators weren’t interested. Eventually, they came to realize that the mobile is a very attractive platform for their music.”Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Last year, Juniper published a much-hyped report that estimated mobile content could drive revenue up to $47.5 billion by 2010. Dr. Holden now says the state of the global economy has tempered his original forecast, and that the mobile market might still be hit by a drop in discretionary spending. Still, he says, as the industry “moves away from simple ring tones, and towards applications, there’s an opportunity for some quite sophisticated mobile music games.”
One of the biggest catalysts here is Apple’s policy on external content for its iPod line and the iPhone. Whereas in the past phone companies and providers made it prohibitively expensive for companies to develop mobile content, Apple has opened its doors wide. Bart Decrem, the CEO of Tapulous, says that the cost of developing and distributing content for the Apple platforms is relatively low, and the potential payoff huge. “The friction is removed from the system,” Mr. Decrem says. “We can develop very sophisticated [applications] at a fraction of the cost it would take before.”
Kasson Crooker, a project leader at the Cambridge, Mass.-based video-game company Harmonix, says that there’s a “huge opening right now for developers. Bands and musicians have a whole new way of marketing their music, and fans enjoy music a lot more when they can interact with it. It’s a different level of appreciation.”
Harmonix, the creator of the original Guitar Hero and the Rock Band franchise, has also marketed a mobile music game called Phase, which is available for Apple’s Nano, Classic, and fifth generation iPods. (It cannot be downloaded to the iPod touch or iPhone.) Phase arrives with a suite of songs – including “Pop Music Is Not a Crime” by Freezepop – and allows users to add material from their own libraries.
One of the biggest acts to benefit from the surge in mobile music gaming is Anberlin, a popular alternative rock band from Winter Haven, Fla. In 2008, Tapulous made Anberlin anthem “The Feel Good Drag” available for Tap Tap Revenge. Thousands of fans eventually downloaded the track, and more than a few took to their blogs or YouTube to chronicle their achievements.
“It’s not just watching a video on TV, or hearing a tune on the radio,” says Nate Young, the drummer for Anberlin. “Fans become a part of the music by playing it. They get a more intense feeling for the song.”