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The web has been a godsend for artists wanting to connect with their fans. First, it was the wild wild west. Then, MySpace came along, and pretty soon, you had to have a MySpace page. Now it’s a Facebook fan page, perhaps with Root Music plugged in. There are various companies out there – SparkArt, Bubbleup, Virb, Ning – that have stepped in and offered “websites in a box” that can be customized to the artist’s liking.

A website is important, and I’m not suggesting any artist today simply forego having one. But, it’s not the future. It is what was important yesterday, and is quickly being replaced.

The next wave is mobile. It’s mobile-optimized websites, and it’s mobile apps.

Take eBay. eBay will do $1.5 billion in mobile revenue this year.

70% of this revenue will be from their mobile app, 30% from their mobile website. That’s right – there going to do $500 million more on their app than on their mobile-optimized website.

Perhaps most interestingly, users of the eBay iPad app spend $85/week on average; that’s 50% more than visitors to their website spend, and $20/week more than users of their iPhone app.

Or PayPal. PayPal will process $500 million in mobile payments this year, up from just $25 million two years ago. That’s explosive growth in people making payments via their mobile.

Or Linkin Park (disclosure: this is a Mobile Roadie app with a Topspin store in it). Fans in the Linkin Park app spent double the average transaction of fans on the website.

What does it all mean? It means that mobile is important. And it means that fans are increasingly buying on their mobile device instead of their desktop or laptop. And not only are they buying more often on mobile, they’re spending more on the same items. There is nothing special about eBay’s products in their app vs. their website, or on Linkin Park’s offers in their app vs. their website, but users bought more because it was a better, more convenient user experience to buy on their mobile.

Some things you should do today:

  • Mobile optimize your website. That means, have your website guy modify the “CSS” on your website to display fonts and buttons in a mobile-friendly way. Make it easy for fans to interact and buy from your site on their mobile (no one likes to pinch and zoom).
  • Get an app. There are so many easy and inexpensive way to do this today, you can’t afford not to do it. And interact with your fans in your app; they’ll pay you back with loyalty, and their credit card.
  • Take advantage of mobile’s advantage. Mobile knows where your fan is; your website doesn’t. Take advantage of that with geo targeted offers and messaging. Hit fans when they want, and where it’s convenient for them.

By 2013, it’s estimated that more people will browse the web from mobile devices than from desktop or laptop computers. That’s just two years away. Personally, I think this will happen even sooner. Don’t wait – get in the mobile game now, build intimate fan relationships, and get ready for the next wave.

Michael Schneider (@msfd) is CEO of Mobile Roadie (@mobileroadie), notably maker of MIDEM’s iPhone app.


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5 Comments

  1. Excellent advice. We are actually in the process of upgrading the website of one of our artists and I just sent our designer an email telling him to make sure our site is mobile optimized.
    Thank you again for taking the time to share such important information.

  2. With the Internet experience on mobile phones getting much faster, screens getting bigger and clearer, texting becoming the dominant form of interpersonal communication, better apps revolutionizing the mobile experience and making business much easier to transact, there is no doubt music business and fan and artist interaction on mobile phones is a rapidly advancing force to be reckoned with. iPhones, Droids, Blackberries, iPads, Playbooks and the like foretell of a great future for the mobile experience. Websites are not going anywhere soon but I do believe that they will be designed with mobile use in mind much more than they ever were. In line with this, even better days will be upon us when true music and music business minds better meld with technologists who should stop telling us what we need and give us the customer experience we really want.

    David Sherbow, CEO, LiveMusicMachine.com

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