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How To Distribute Music Via Mobile

by Raj Singh

Editor’s Note: the following article was part of NARIP’s recent “Maximum Music Distribution Via Physical, Digital & Mobile” program in San Francisco at which Raj was a guest speaker. Here are his top ten tips to enable mobile music distribution.

1. Build a Mobile Landing Page

Making your content available from your own site or your “new” mobile site is the most direct way to distribute. Previously, this was a painful process because of the massive browser fragmentation but since browsers have improved significantly, building a simple XHTML web page and integrating some phone detection using WURFL ( or DotMobi is much easier process. In addition, since most phones support MP3 and JPG, codec fragmentation is no longer a concern. And if you wanted to put it behind a payment, see Billing Revolution (, they offer a simple way to integrate carrier or credit card billing behind your mobile landing page.

2. Distribute Via Web 2.0 Mobile Distribution Portals

Numerous sites can distribute your mobile content. Most are free and they enable you to charge for your content, only taking a small revenue-share. Many of them offer widgets as well so users can embed a mobile content distribution widget into their own Myspace page etc. For ringtones or wallpapers, see Myxertones, SendMeMobile, ToneThis and Phonezoo. For games, see Greystripe and Hovr.

3. License Your Content For Redistribution

Instead of distributing the content yourself, you can license it to others for promotion in their catalogs which typically already have massive placement in carrier and handset portals. There are numerous leading mobile content portals including Jamster, Thumbplay, Mobilstreams, Zingy and so forth.

4. Distribute Via Prepaid Content Cards

Playphone and a number of other inComm customers develop prepaid content cards that are sold in retail. Consumers purchase the branded prepaid content card in retail and then redeem the content by entering a URL into their phone and typing-in the redemption code located on the back of the card. These cards are often target consumers who do not have a credit card and thus cannot buy online or are prepaid mobile subscribers and thus cannot buy through the carrier billing system.

5. Partner With Retail Directly

BestBuy, Carphone Warehouse and others are beginning to offer storefronts in-store which are accessed through kiosks. Early data has shown that these kiosks have been extremely effective in selling digital mobile content via Bluetooth or cable.

6. Distribute Through Carriers

This is the most obvious and traditional approach but it has many challenges. Partnering with carriers typically requires a longer business development process; however, once your content is on the portal, revenue is almost guaranteed. You can’t beat the exposure of the on-deck carrier portal. FYI, there are some developed programs for getting content onto carrier portals – see the developer programs of each carrier.

7. Put It on Phone Memory

It’s almost unusual to find a higher-end phone today that doesn’t have some kind of phone memory slot, usually micro-SD. Sandisk, Kingston and others are now distributing mobile content from their phone memory. Again, since these are rather new initiatives, this is a great time to jump-in early.

8. Put It On SIM Cards

Like our phone memory buddies, SIM card manufacturers are now also including mobile content. See companies like Gemalto and SST.

9. Distribute Via Handset Manufacturers

Probably one of the hardest paths if it’s purely music content but it’s not unusual to have content or content subscriptions distributed with a phone purchase. Nokia and SonyEricsson have sold a number of phones preloaded with content. Long business development cycle but huge wins if you can make it happen.

10. App Portals Galore

Most app portals don’t distribute ringtones directly but many app portals contain apps developed by third parties that distribute mobile content. For example, the FunMobility or Moderati applications on Verizon are effectively portal apps. Find these apps, contact these folks and they offer yet another way to distribute your mobile content.

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About Raj Singh

Raj Singh is a mobile industry veteran who has worked in all aspects of mobile over the past 10 years. Currently, Raj is Vice President of Business Development for Skyfire, a mobile browser that supports the full Web including Flash 8,9, Javascript and Quicktime. Most recently, Raj consulted Dell Mobile and assisted with their global SMS and WAP strategy. Prior to Dell, Raj co-founded venture-funded Veeker, NBC’s mobile video citizen journalism service and boot-strapped ToneThis, CNET’s top ringtone creation product. Raj has also worked in product management, engineering, strategy and consulting roles for Kodak Mobile, Cellmania, MobiTV, PlayPhone, Tellme, Hungama Mobile and Antenna Software. Raj’s personal projects include GameChalk, an SMS multi-player game service and Pubwalk, an LBS bar-hopping service. Raj is a mobile advisor to a number of companies including ChuckD Mobile, Movoxx, Oomble, Klicksports, Muse, Buzzd, Yojo Mobile, Textopoly and several VCs within the valley.
Raj is a regular mobile writer and speaker including formal and guest-blogging for GotoMobile, O’Reilly Emerging Telephony and VisionMobile. Raj has made contributions to a number of mobile user and expert groups including the JCP, MMA and the Bluetooth SIG. For more information, please see raj at rajansingh dot com