Popkomm Round-Up

So another Popkomm finishes up. I had lots of interesting conversations, some "very" interesting which I'd love to be able to share on here but I'm afraid I can't quite yet. Overall though, I was disappointed at the lack of anything new. There were just no announcements worthy of note. Fair enough, it's been a busy few weeks of major announcement so it's perhaps unrealistic to expect more. But I couldn't help but get the sense of a lack of impetus.

Mobile was the big theme again, with the MEF running a stream which I keynoted. A few highlights from the mobile sessions:

MySpace's Jamie Kantrowitz stated there had been in the US alone 40m streams in the first seven days after launch of MySpace Music, with 17-18 streams per person. Very impressive indeed, though not quite sure what it had to be with mobile�.

TDC's Play offering (free unlimited music to all broadband customers and certain mobile customers) has had an incredible 60 million downloads, according to white label provider 24/7. These numbers are all the more impressive when you consider that the entire population of Denmark is 5.4 million. Apparently albums dominate downloads, turning the usual online model on its head. Just shows you how much music people will listen to if it is for free. The mobile to PC ratio is approximately 30 to 1 in favour of the PC. So again, not really a mobile story.

The long tail is dead: Frank Taubert of 24/7 said that three million out of his catalogue of 4.5 million songs hadn't ever been played, not even once. 24/7 power a lot of stores and services but also include key mobile services such as Omnifone's Music Station. Which could well hint at just how limiting discovery is on mobile.

In my presentation I suggested mobile is re-inventing DRM just as the online world is moving away from it. We could end up with music segmented by handset manufacturer as games consoles are now. Another point I raised was the tension emerging between the need for mobile music to discover its unique and distinct identity with services such as CWM and the move towards mobile support from online services. The latter (particularly via DRM free music) threaten to subsume mobile music as a distinct entity.

The "just how unlimited can unlimited be" was also a hot topic of the event and generated some very polarized opinions.

Finally it's too easy to forget what all this business is about i.e. music. Luckily I had some music highlights also. One of which was Ted Cohen telling tales of his touring days with the likes of the Who, Roxy Music and the Sex Pistols. The other was seeing lots of new bands in some of the Popkomm gigs. I saw over a dozen in one night and although most were pretty poor there were a couple of gems. One was a young pop-punk German band called Sophia Liebt Dich whose singer had incredible presence. The other was the other end of the age spectrum: a veteran traditional Turkish guy called Arif Sag who�s musicianship was spectacular.