By Thorsten Schliesche, Napster Senior Vice President and General Manager, Europe

Consumers have become accustomed to an instant world where they can use a mobile device to look up information, make purchases and stream their favourite music on the go.

The proliferation of smartphones is THE game changer for the music streaming industry, taking music streaming from a niche market to the mass market.

Before music streaming went mobile, it was something consumers did just at home but now consumers expect access to all the music in world at the touch of their fingertips, at anytime, anywhere in the world.

Many music streaming services have formed partnerships with mobile operators to bring their services to a wider range of consumers. Streaming can help build brands and avoid churn, so it’s no wonder some of the biggest players in the mobile market have got involved and formed partnerships with music streaming companies like Napster.

However, often these partnership deals seem to be rushed, because they don’t ultimately provide the consumer with a value added experience. Operators should demand more from their partners. Partnerships should make streaming easy to use, as music is as often vital to customers as making voice calls or sending texts.

As operators invest in 4G LTE and promote its benefits to their customers they are looking for services that justify the need of broader bandwidth, higher speeds and ultimately higher consumer spend.

Mobile music streaming can be one of these services; it can provide operators with another value added service for their subscribers, which will help drive consumer loyalty and increase revenue.

Strategic cooperation by both parties is a must if success is to be achieved. A key consideration for operators is how flexible its music streamer partner is with its branding. Operators working with Napster get to use the Napster name, a well-established music brand, and they can do it in a way that works well for both companies.  

A properly engaged partner means working together to deliver a service. Napster can go from agreement to launch in 60 days, which can help when trying to get a new handset to market quickly.

Music streamers have a comprehensive knowledge of the music industry and also a great deal of insight into what their users enjoy, this means they can provide highly and relevant localised content for their users.

If mobile operators and music streaming services get their proposition right it can lead to success for both parties. MTV Music, powered by Rhapsody in Germany, currently has more than 200,000 paying subscribers within the E-Plus network. These subscribers were earned only within a few months and thanks to partnerships like this Napster is the fastest growing music streaming service in Germany.

Music streaming will continue to grow and become more popular in the coming years. In fact, in the next 10 years Napster expect to see music streaming almost exclusively replace other forms of music listening. This means consumers will be replacing their current spends on CDs and downloads with a subscription to a quality streaming service. By forming meaningful partnerships with music streamers early on, operators will be able to reap the financial benefits when streaming becomes a truly mass market activity. 

Ultimately, mobile operators can view music streaming as a strategic avenue to increase revenue and grow consumer loyalty. For partnerships to be successful, streaming services need to be flexible with their brand assets, bring to the table their deep insights of the music industry and also provide knowledge of how to deliver services to the market quickly.

By working together operators and streaming companies can provide a quality offering for their customers.

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