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Taylor Swift apps drive music downloads, ticket sales

Country pop singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is using mobile applications to engage her fans, as well as drive music downloads and concert ticket sales.

The Taylor Swift applications, created for both Android and iPhone using Mobile Roadie’s platform and powered by online video platform Brightcove, were downloaded more than 350,000 times in the first two weeks and more than 10 percent of users bought music within that timeframe. Users watched nearly 665,000 mobile videos and also listened to more than 7.5 million songs and ringtones, while the number of concert tickets sold has not been revealed.

“Big Machine’s strategy behind the launch of the Taylor Swift apps for iPhone and Android was to leverage the experience that mobile applications provide where the consumer feels like they are interacting with the artist and the music,” said Kelly Rich, vice president of sales, marketing and interactive at Big Machine Records, Nashville, TN.

“The consumer desires an experience and applications are the next phase in that process,” she said.

“The target demographic is primarily the tech-savvy generation that has grown up with mobile being their primary form of communication, as they have a higher comfort level with the mobile experience the portability it brings.”

Big Machine Records is Taylor Swift’s record label.

Mobile Roadie is a mobile application platform that lets brands and publishers create and manage iPhone and Android applications.

Mobile Roadie has built an integration with Brightcove and its iPhone SDK to enable customers to build and manage mobile applications that feature mobile video.

The integration lets Mobile Roadie users to automatically pull in video content from their Brightcove account, which can then be reorganized and customized to fit the design and layout of the mobile application.

Mobile commerce apps featuring video
Big Machine Records recently partnered with Mobile Roadie and Brightcove to launch the Taylor Swift iPhone and Android applications.

Users can buy full-tracks and ringtones within the application, as well as concert tickets and merchandise.

Here is a screengrab of the click-to-buy full-tracks portal within the Taylor Swift application:

The Taylor Swift applications currently feature streaming video.

Mobile Roadie and Brightcove help to address the challenge of the bandwidth required to accommodate the streaming.

“This also allows us to update and extend the content real-time so that we can always be improving the experience as well as giving the consumer a new reason to come back to the application,” Ms. Rich said.

Big Machine Records has relied primarily on viral spread to get the word out about the applications.

“Fortunately for us the app store is a marketing tactic within itself,” Ms Rich said. “We felt the placement and the rapid adoption of the application that kept it in the charts bolstered the interest in Taylor and her ability to appear not only on the singles and albums charts but also on the apps charts within iTunes.

“The other benefit is that our efforts to interact through Taylor’s Web site were greatly increased by pulling that content into the application,” she said. “We have chosen to have this more of an organic growth process versus have it feel like we were pushing the product onto the consumer.

“We have found that the target demo for this application would rather seek it out and feel like they have taken ownership of the experience and the results speak for themselves.”

Engagement leads to sales
Taylor Swift’s applications have already surpassed 400,000 downloads across the iPhone, iPod touch and Android devices.

Taylor Swift’s tweets get pulled into the application, and any post she makes within the application instantly gets dozens of comments from fans, according to Mobile Roadie.

Some have well over 200 or 300 comments, indicating that conversations are happening within the application between Ms. Swift and her fans. That leads to sales.

“We’ve definitely noticed with Taylor and other artists that fans are flocking to the apps and the communities to meet each other,” said Brock Batten, cofounder and creative director at Mobile Roadie, Los Angeles. “One reason is it’s in their pocket, so they can engage with like-minded people while they’re on the go.

“We have a number of tools to increase engagement and let them converse with each other, which increases the stickiness factor,” he said. “While they are in the app, there is streaming music, and we’ve made it very easy for that music to be sold.

“Taylor is using samples of songs to encourage downloads, and she is also selling ringtones, because super-fans might have all of the songs but they don’t have these ringtones.”

There have been more than 70,000 clicks to buy full tracks and ringtones via the application, more than a million videos have been viewed within the app and more than 10 million songs have been streamed.

Big Machine Records also drives sales of Taylor Swift concert tickets via the applications, as well as merchandise such as t-shirts.

Here is a screengrab of the click-to-buy concert tickets portal within the Taylor Swift application:

“We facilitate the labels and artists and work with them about how they want to use it and market it,” Mr. Batten said. “We’re pulling in Taylor’s YouTube channel and Brightcove video,  and you see conversations happening around the videos.

“That’s leading to ticket sales and merchandise sales, and in addition to selling tickets to shows in the app, fans can upload photos if they’re at a show,” he said. “The apps lead to engagement with the brand or artist and engagement with each other.”

Mobile Roadie uses Brightcove’s technology to deliver video through their SDKs for native applications and support for building HTML5, H.264-compatible sites for both Apple and Flash.

“Our goal is to provide a comprehensive solution for creating and managing video-centric mobile apps and for delivering video optimized for mobile Web sites,” said Jeff Whatcott, senior vice president of marketing at Brightcove, Cambridge, MA.

“Many of our customers have introduced or are in the process of introducing rich, interactive mobile apps using our iPhone SDKs, as well as tapping into Mobile Roadie’s integration with our platform,” he said.

“Big Machine Records’ Taylor Swift mobile app has been a huge success, and we’re thrilled to support their efforts both now in the future.”