Reuters reports that out of the United States 220 million cellphone users, approximately 88
million send text messages frequently and about 46 million have
downloaded a ringtone. Accordingly,
text messages were sent in the U.S. alone through the first half of
this year. That is nearly twice as many as were sent during the same
period last year.
The music industry is beginning to use this technology as a promotional tool any way it can. David Ellner, executive VP of operations for Universal
Motown/Republic Group says that “Every artist with every track, and all the merchandising and all
the advertising, we’re using (text messaging) to try and drive
More and more CDs are including some sort of insert with a unique “short code” to which fans send a text message to buy ringtones and other content. Cyndi Allnot, Atlantic Records’
mobile marketing manager, explains “I don’t think
you will see a (marketing) tool coming out of Atlantic Records –
anything from an album, flier or advertisement — that doesn’t have
some sort of mobile promotion.”
In some cases, labels are
even charging a fee for the text messages sent in response to certain promotions. In this way, they cover
their marketing costs without selling anything. As an example, RCA put together a sweepstakes to coincide with the launch of Monica’s new
album earlier this month. Adidas was the main sponsor of the sweepstakes, offering the chance for fans to win a $5,000 online shopping spree by texting the word
“Monica.” Charging 99 cents per message, RCA was able to cover most of the promotional expense associated with the sweepstakes.
“This is probably
the first promotion we ever ran where we didn’t lose money on prizing,
advertising and things like that,” says Sean Rosenberg, director of
mobile marketing at RCA Music Group.
What I find most interesting here is that the same music industry that has been struggling with the advent of digital music somehow has convinced its customers to pay a fee to enter contests. If only the industry could channel that same energy toward convincing customers to pay for legal downloads…