Mobile Backstage, a new social music service and mobile app that lets artists and bands “engage” with their fans, is set to officially launch next week, although it’s already been trialed by the likes of hip hop star Dizzee Rascal, and the ’emo’ outfit You Me At Six (yes, I’ve never heard of them either). It’s been developed by Steam Republic, a Finnish mobile solutions company, which says it recently raised a second round of funding in the region of €2 million of its target of €3 -5 million.
That’s not necessarily all that newsworthy in itself – there are already plenty of ways for artists to interact with fans online – but what’s perhaps more interesting is that the company claims that its bespoke mobile app, which can be fully branded for each artist/band and runs on iPhone and Java-enabled handsets, beats uber social networks such as Facebook and MySpace in terms of the level of fan interaction and user-generated content.
In trials, Steam Republic says that that it saw 90% of all users regularly post or comment on something within the app, revealing an interaction ratio of 1:46 in comparison to the same artist’s Facebook page (1:780) or MySpace profile (1:20,874). I suspect, however, that this is likely due to the mobile app’s very focused feature set and directness in terms of branding – the artist and fan relationship isn’t lost in a sea of generic social networking – and the fan’s explicit intent in that they bothered to download the app in the first place.
Some of Mobile Backstage’s features include:
- social features that allow fans to interact with each other and the artist to share their experiences
- a content management system for web and mobile that enables artists and labels to post band updates, images, video clips, text updates, tour dates etc.
- integration of content from Twitter and Facebook
- analytics & stats that provide insights into fans and fan activities
- iTunes Music Store integration
- location-based events where fans can ‘check-in’ to gigs using GPS
The Foursquare-esque ‘check-in’ feature seems particularly timely.
In terms of revenue, Stream Republic will charge a one-off fee – around €1,000 for set up and full customisation – and charge a monthly fee to artists/bands/labels. There’s also the opportunity to sell tracks via iTunes, along with concert tickets and merchandise.