Sony Ericsson today unveiled the next stage in the evolution of PlayNow(TM) arena, its popular over-the-air (OTA) download service. At the MIDEM conference in Cannes, Sony Ericsson announced deals with 10 major record labels, adding over 5 million new tracks to its extensive catalogue. Sony Ericsson also unveiled the design and URL for PlayNow(TM) arena and launched PlayNow(TM) Uncut, (formerly M-Buzz(TM)) a music promotional space for new, unsigned and developing artists.
Record label partnerships
Today Sony Ericsson announced partnerships with 10 of the largest international and regional music labels including: Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, EMI, The Orchard, IODA, The PocketGroup, Hungama, X5 Music, Bonnier Amigo and VidZone, adding over 5 million new tracks to PlayNow(TM) arena. Sony Ericsson is currently negotiating further deals with a host of regional labels to further broaden the variety of music available and bring a wealth of localised content direct to the consumer.
Sony Ericsson introduced PlayNow(TM) in February 2004 as the easiest way to pre-listen and then purchase polyphonic ringtones directly to your phone. The service has proved a hit with consumers and is now available in 32 countries around the world, with annual free and premium downloads through both PlayNow and Fun & Downloads having reached more than 200 million. Since launch, the scope of the service has expanded to mirror the functionality of Sony Ericsson's phones to include mastertones (MP3 ringtones), games, full music tracks, themes and wallpapers. In November 2007 Sony Ericsson announced its intention to further develop its PlayNow(TM) service with PlayNow(TM) arena, offering access to a greatly expanded range of content and combining the power of the PlayNow(TM) catalogue with unique applications like TrackID(TM), which identifies songs and allows them to be downloaded directly to your phone or PC.
Speaking at the Sony Ericsson event at MIDEM in Cannes, Sony Ericsson's Executive Vice President, Anders Runevad, presented the enhanced PlayNow(TM) arena service and emphasised the importance of industry partnerships delivering digital content and an unparalleled multimedia experience:
"We are delighted to announce deals with such high calibre record labels. This will help realise our vision for PlayNow(TM) arena as a service that will be developed in collaboration with our partners. Our commitment is to work with the industry to ensure we are building an experience-based and intuitive content delivery platform, enabling the development of an ecosystem that provides a unique experience for the consumer and a business model where everybody prospers."
With mobile games remaining a key focus, Sony Ericsson has also added 250 new games through existing deals with leading games manufactures such as EA Games, Gameloft, THQ, Glu, Digital Chocolate and I-Play. Sony Ericsson users download more games to their phones than users of any other mobile phone brand*. These deals take another step in cementing its number one position in the mobile games market.
PlayNow(TM) Uncut (previously know as M-BUZZ(TM)) is a promotional space for breaking new and emerging artists via Sony Ericsson's product, content and marketing channels. PlayNow(TM) Uncut showcases selected, previously unreleased tracks, videos, artwork, interviews, tour dates and other artist information on Sony Ericsson mobile phones and the web at www.playnow-uncut.com.
The rebranding and alignment with PlayNow(TM) opens up new channel opportunities for artists and enables the site to target consumers worldwide, including the United States of America for the first time. With an international reach, the service has always been about presenting the best new talents from around the world, whatever their style or native language. Apart from the current streaming possibilities, the highest rated and most listened to tracks will be made available for sale in the music section of PlayNow(TM) arena. For artists, this will add revenue possibilities to the already extensive promotional benefits of appearing there.
One Arena. Unlimited experiences
"The PlayNow(TM) arena is an open environment that offers something for everyone. We see PlayNow(TM) Uncut as the edgy version, whilst the PlayNow(TM) music section is more a case of familiarity, giving consumers something they know and are already comfortable with. Consumer experience is our absolute priority and we will continue to develop PlayNow(TM) arena as a service that appeals to all consumer segments and lifestyle trends," said Martin Blomkvist, Head of Content Acquisition & Management at Sony Ericsson.
The PlayNow(TM) arena will be brought directly to the consumer at: www.playnow-arena.com
The PlayNow(TM) arena will launch in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland in May 2008 with more European markets to come at the end of Q2 2008 and further expansion in Europe, Americas and Asia during Q3 and Q4. Sony Ericsson predicts that the PlayNow(TM) arena will be active in close to 30 markets by the end of 2008.
The growth in popularity of the TrackID(TM) application has rocketed around the globe, presently recording more than 200,000 hits per day equal to more than two each second, a figure that has doubled in the last three months. TrackID(TM) will be an integral part of the PlayNow(TM) arena experience, offering an instant way to first hear a track - for example, in a coffee shop or on the radio - and then get it to your phone and PC. The PlayNow(TM) arena itself will feature TrackID(TM) Charts, created by consumers in real time using TrackID(TM) around the world. This will allow consumers to see what songs other users are searching for and wanting to hear the most, both globally and in their own market.
Sony Ericsson at Midem 2008
Sony Ericsson will be showcasing its PlayNow(TM) arena music store as well as demonstrating its latest handsets and accessories at booth R31.01 at Midem 2008 in Cannes, France.