Mobile Music at MIDEM
By Carlo Longino, Mon Jan 26 19:30:00 GMT 2004

MocoNews is at MIDEM, the world's biggest music conference, in Cannes this week, keeping up with all the mobile-related music news.

Rafat Ali has a slew of updates from Sunday's Mobile Music Forum, the most pressing details of a talk from Vodafone's content boss Graeme Ferguson, saying the mobile industry should avoid competing with online download services and stick to its roots in personalization. He doesn't see the need to deliver full songs to handsets, something his fellow panelists didn't necessarily agree with, particularly Shazam's CEO, Jerry Roest, who says the song-identification company is looking into starting a download service of its own.

Using mobile content as a promotional tool was a hot topic too, with several speakers pointing to ringback tones as a fantastic viral marketing tool. One speaker said nearly every caller that hears his ringback tone comments on it, a perfect opportunity for viral marketers. But plain ol' ringtones aren't totally out of favor yet, as their ubiquity makes them an essential piece of marketing material, something reflected by the announcement of an official ringtones chart being launched in the UK.

There's a lot of interest in music over mobiles, since at the moment, it's difficult to get any delivered to your device without paying for it. Manufacturers are hoping that doesn't change, and are developing new technologies, like "PAP4" -- pass along but it's paid for -- that look to capitalize on the ease of P2P distribution, but also secure and monetize it.

i-mode founder Takeshi Natsuno of NTT DoCoMo gave a keynote, where he said the company generated EUR 500 million last year from the download of 1.4 billion ringtones, half their total content revenues. He added some typically i-mode-ish lessons for the mobile and music industries to follow, saying that ease of use for the consumer must be paramount, and that all the players in the ecosystem must work together to develop sound business models that benefit everyone, leaving politics and territorial disputes behind.

That seems like a lofty goal, when the music industry can barely even make wired downloads happen.