Blog Post

Japan Continues To Lead In Mobile Music

Gracenote MobileJapanese mobile telcos have led the world in 3G phones and mobile content, and its normally the business models rather than the technology that have created the success. KDDI is continuing the trend by doing something that anyone could have, really, but no-one has. The telco has partnered with digital music company Gracenote and BREW developer MediaSocket to introduce “the first subscription-based digital music download services enabling subscribers to identify and purchase music instantly on the handset”.
The concept is fairly straightforward: the song is played into the phone with the BREW application, the waveform (digital fingerprint) of the song is run through Gracenotes song database for a match and the user receives details of the song as well as the option to buy content related to the song, such as ringtones, full song downloads and CDs in the Media Socket content library.
Music recognition services on mobile phones are not new, but this particular implementation of it goes further than anything before. For starters, the application is preloaded onto the phone (current handsets include two from Toshiba and a Sanyo) — all the user has to do is press a ‘search’ button and the phone does the rest. It’s not message based either, it goes over KDDI’s 3G network. Also, the ability to buy physical goods such as CDs is a nice touch. After all, KDDI already knows where its customers live and charges them money. The simplicity and immediacy of the offering is what makes it so powerful:
“We’ve found that offering instant access to music and purchases is very compelling. For the first time, they’ll be able to identify songs they’re hearing on the television, on the radio or another source, and buy related content, such as ringer songs, full songs or albums, at exactly the moment they’re listening to that song,” said Makoto Takahashi, Vice President and General Manager of the Content Division, KDDI.
Two of the handsets have a built-in TV tuner, and the phone will also identify music playing directly on the handset. This is the sort of integration that is needed before mobile content really takes off.
On a side note, Label Mobile (a consortium of 5 record labels and 11 labels that owns licensing rights for all music content in Japan) is providing content for the service…the consortium is currently in a showdown with the Japanese Fair Trade Commission over allegedly monopolistic practices
Related stories:
Another Record Year Thanks To Japanese Mobile Music
Three Firms To Enter Japan Mobile Market
Korea’s Mobile Music Market Heating Up