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Carrier Three drives sales of mobile music content via social integration

British carrier Three UK has extended a new Facebook and Twitter-friendly music store from Android-based handsets to more of its mobile phone customers. 

The Three music store, powered by Livewire Mobile Inc.’s Fonestarz Media, lets consumers download full tracks, ringtones and music videos directly to their handsets. It has the option to automatically update a customer’s status on Twitter and Facebook with the latest music they have purchased, thus adding a viral element to spread the word about the store.

“We’ve been doing browser based-services for Three UK for a while, and we launched a full-track download service that is a browser-based on-deck portal for Android-based phones,” said Dave Moreau, chief operating officer of Livewire Mobile, Cambridge, England.

“We built Facebook and Twitter into the music store for the first time so that once people buy tracks, they can notify their friends about what they bought, where they bought it and how they get there, an obvious piece of digital marketing,” he said. “If they enjoy it, they can broadcast it to their friends.

“These days, it’s all about navigation, so it makes sense to use social media as much as possible—Three UK has continually innovated around mobile content, and the next step is a downloadable app.”

Three UK is a member of the Huchison Whampoa Ltd. group of companies, which include 3G operations in Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Macau and Sweden.

Three has more than 6.2 million customers in Britain and the 3 Group has 28 million-plus worldwide.

Livewire Mobile specializes in managed personalization and music services, including ringback tones, advertising ringback, ringtones, DRM-free mobile full-track music and videos, storefronts and other applications, as well as dedicated content and service marketing, integrated storefront management and merchandising.

On-deck mobile Web storefront
The browser-based store features music from major and independent record labels, including Sony, Universal, Warner, EMI and Vidzone.

The on-deck mobile music content store also comes with My Music Club, a section that provides special offers and promotions.

The new music store is designed to make it easier for customers on Three’s mobile Internet network to access the latest tracks on their handsets.

Customers can access the store through Three’s on-deck mobile phone portal by clicking on the Three music store icon. 

The standard price for full tracks and videos is around $2, but the carrier offers other bundles and special promotions.

The purchases show up on customers’ phone bill.

The music store has been available on Android handsets on the Three network since December and is delivered by Fonestarz, a part of U.S.-based Livewire Mobile.

The company works extensively with Three UK, previously running a variety of related content services. 

The full service is not yet available for Apple iOS or Windows Phone 7 customers.

Three is getting the word out about the Android-optimized storefront by running a major promotion across its Web portal.

In addition, Three sent out an SMS blast to 200,000 users over this past weekend, and the carrier is planning a series of PR events featuring music artists to promote the new music store over the course of the coming year.

“Three UK is going to use their resources for marketing—they always back their content services with promotions,” Mr. Moreau said. “Android is as popular in Europe as it is in other markets around the world.

“We are quite surprised about the number of Android phones that are downloading content from our carrier partners’ browser-based stores,” he said.

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily