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Universal Music Group expands mobile content storefront

Under this agreement, m-Wise, which specializes in mobile content management and delivery, will work with UMG to launch a centralized system to drive mobile content sales, reporting, tracking and payments to artists. Additionally, this partnership with m-Wise is intended to help UMG piggyback sales of mobile content not just online but in print, TV, radio, social media and other marketing and distribution channels.

“Our partnership with m-Wise is an extension of our existing direct-to-fan business, which we’ve been building for years and through multiple partnerships with companies such as Echospin, Netbiscuits and Mozes,” said David Ring, executive vice president of business development and business affairs for eLabs at UMG, New York.

“The m-Wise platform will integrate with our other direct-to-fan partners, which will make the music discovery and consumption experience seamless for the consumer,” he said. “For example, I will be able to go to Lady Gaga’s fan page and easily buy a mastertone directly from UMG.

“What makes the m-Wise deal different from our previous approach is that we now have more direct access to the marketing and messaging platform, which will help us get the right content to the right users more quickly.”

UMG’s catalog is marketed through two distinct divisions, Universal Music Enterprises in the United States and Universal Strategic Marketing abroad.

Aside from UMG, m-Wise’s clients include Thumbplay and Fox Mobile, which use its MOMA content management and service delivery platform.

In addition to enabling real-time end-user capabilities such as voting, mobile marketing, advertising and access to live data, MOMA includes transactional billing, customer care and marketing capabilities.

UMG m-Wising up
M-Wise’s m-Store is an international platform with the ability to transact and market in multiple languages and multiple currencies.

This platform will also let UMG drive mobile content promotions with the m-Wise keyword management platform and campaign creation system.

The m-Wise platform provides integration with the top Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers, offering content at a variety of price points, and will be fully integrating with UMG’s mobile partners such as Mozes, Echospin and Netbiscuits.

By leveraging the m-Wise m-Store platform, UMG will promote free content, sell individual content and create content bundles in both English and Spanish.

UMG will initially offer a la carte and subscription mastertones and wallpaper products, but the company is exploring additional products such as video tones and voice tones.

“We are excited about the subscription offering, because this is a new direct-to-fan option that builds an ongoing relationship with the consumers,” Mr. Ring said.

“The content will be available via multiple channels, including SMS, that is, text-to-tone, Web/WAP storefronts and IVR—automated phone,” he said.

The payment mechanism for UMG’s paid mobile content is currently carrier billing, but Mr. Ring said that the company may explore other payment channels over time.

“M-Wise enables us to gain incremental reach—we now have access to Tier 2 carriers and Spanish-language fulfillment, which will broaden the base of mobile music consumers,” Mr. Ring said.

“In addition, consumers should also have a better search experience, as m-Wise’s keyword search manager is more effective than we’ve had in the past,” he said.

“Operationally, we are excited about additional back-end efficiencies that will help us manage the marketing process more effectively and get new releases up faster to the right customers.”

UMG expects mobile content to be a big part of its business going forward.

“The new access and efficiencies that we’ll have should generate new users and help us grow the business,” Mr. Ring said. “There are a lot of mobile phone consumers with unmet needs and we have found a way to reach them.”

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce  Daily