Vodafones Groovy Music Trial

Mobile music service provider Groove Mobile has revealed that it will trial what it claims is the first direct-to-consumer off-portal data service with  Vodafone UK, giving mobile users access to Sony BMGs catalogue of music. Participating artists include Usher, Westlife, Shayne Ward, Faithless, Kasabian and Chris Brown.

The service will make it easy for consumers to access full track Over-the-Air (OTA) downloads from their favourite artists via SMS shortcodes, without the fear of incurring additional high data charges. The cost to download the track will be included in the price shown for the track, so consumers know exactly what they are committing to. The trial runs in soft launch phase from July, with a full launch in September.
Groove Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Adam Sexton told Mobile Marketing that he expects tracks to be available for similar prices to those offered on-portal, with the data charges included. He stressed that the service is not along the lines of the pre-bought data services that some operators were offering last year. The shortcodes are another key feature of the trial, says Sexton.

What we hear from consumers is that they get frustrated with WAP browsing, because it takes too long, so the idea here is to take them direct to the track they want to download, using shortcodes on flyposters, CD covers, wherever, to deep link to the track in question says Sexton. He points out that in the US, consumers on the Sprint network can deep link from their handsets directly to every one of Groove Mobiles entire 1.6 million song catalogue.

If we could sign up all the labels and all the networks, it would be great to offer something similar over here says Sexton. 

Rich media services have, to an extent, been held back by complicated pricing in the past, something that Vodafone is addressing, adds Vodafone UK Strategic Business Development Manager, Ray De Silva. Vodafone is undertaking a three month trial with Groove Mobile aiming to stimulate off portal downloads by simplifying the payment process.
De Silva says that additional details on plans for further roll-out will be provided once Vodafone and Groove have received the results of the trial.

Cost incurred by labels to distribute music on a digital platform remains the single biggest barrier to off-portal music sales and one of the largest inhibitors to growth in the off-portal sector in general, adds Sexton. With this service, Groove Mobile will provide labels with the power to sell their artists music directly to fans. Music consumers in the UK will now be able to get immediate access to the hottest tracks, simply by sending a SMS.

Groove Mobile says it is uniquely positioned to leverage its expertise and relationships in the music industry to help carriers navigate the mobile music space. With worldwide agreements with leading independent artists, labels and digital distributors, Groove Mobile is well positioned to help evolve the global mobile music market by developing the mobile phone into the music player of choice. Sony BMG UK content will be featured at launch, with additional labels to follow.

We are committed to evolving the growing mobile music market with innovative services that help get our music into the hands of more consumers, says Alex Vlassopulos, Digital Business Development Manager at Sony BMG UK. This service is a perfect extension of our integrated marketing efforts, allowing mobile users to access music tracks simply and securely from our artists WAP stores with the push of a button.