Eric Nicoli crammed a lot into his first major U.S. address since taking the full operational reigns as CEO of EMI. The obligatory announcement: EMI Music will be the exclusive major label for Nokia’s retail program with EMI artists being featured across Nokia’s entertainment properties. First up: social net poster girl Lily Allen and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.
The bulk of what he had to say focused on showing EMI’s digital and mobile progress while also encouraging the industry to do a better job across the board with the user experience. Both are important messages: the former because the perception of EMI as troubled needs to be turned around and digital is key; the latter because EMI needs it as does everyone in the industry — everything in the user-experience chain needs to be easier. He argues that no one in the industry will be able to achieve their sales goals over the next few years without changes. As he put it, “just as there are important opportunities in mobile, there are important challenges we need to address if we’re to take this business to the next level. … We must put the consumer at the forefront of every aspect of our business.”
Nicoli mentioned Steve Jobs and Apple as an example of how to get the user experience right — simplicity, functionality, beauty. As we’ve written here before, he’s had his differences with Apple over interoperability but he admires that aspect. (He joked that the mention should get him higher on the wait list for an iPhone.) But as good as Apple is, it doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be unique.
Three things: He suggests a three-part test for every decision: value for money? good product offering? ease of use? Nicoli said he feared “many of us” would fail the test if applied to what is being offered now: “I’m Merely asserting that we all have more room for improvement than we can comfortably admit in public.”
Ad-supported content: EMI was the first major label to experiment with TV-style ads in mobile video in a Europe/U.S. trial with Rhythm New Media. More than 70 percent selected music over other film or television. Their content usage wasn’t affected by ads; one group — 18-24 males — watched more video than their no-ads control group. 80 percent saids ads were either positive or had no effect on the experience. EMI hopes to do more tests and launches.