Mobile Roadie is currently the most prominent company helping artists and labels release music apps, although up-and-coming competitors include Mobile Backstage, FanTrail and the HTML5-focused Songpier. Now there’s another one for the list: Conduit.
For now, it doesn’t have the big names of some of its rivals, although artists using its Conduit Mobile platform include Mike Portnoy, DJ Celteric, Urge Overkill (pictured) and You Say France & I Whistle. The platform supports iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia and Samsung devices, while its use of HTML5 ensures artists can create native apps and mobile websites alongside one another.
“Conduit Mobile allows artists to easily create beautiful and engaging mobile apps entirely for free without any programming knowledge,” says Harel Tayeb, VP of Conduit’s Mobile Business Unit.
“Unlike our competitors, we look at our product as much more than a music player. LiveAlbum, a recently launched feature on our platform allows fans to share pictures with each other in real-time through the app. This feature is ideal for live concerts, tours and personally connecting with fans.
Tayeb also flags up the Conduit Mobile platform’s social features, including the obligatory Twitter and Facebook functionality. However, the company is also making a virtue of the fact that its platform is part of a wider network or website and app publishers, which claims 250 million users. “Publishers and artists can distribute and reach their fans through other Conduit products and channels,” says Tayeb.
The HTML5 aspect is interesting: most rivals are currently offering either native apps (the Mobile Roadie approach) or just mobile web (Songpier). Conduit Mobile hopes that doing both will give it an edge, although we suspect that the bigger players will soon introduce a similar dual-path to their own services.
“One of the main benefits of building HTML5 apps is that publishers aren’t forced to go through the tedious AppStore approval process when publishing their apps,” says Tayeb. “HTML5 apps can be easily updated and doesn’t require the user to actively install the app; they are available immediately from the user’s browser. Having said that, Conduit Mobile is still a big believer in native apps as well and we think that publishers can and should create both.”
Currently, the company is focused on making its apps more visually impressive – the screenshots of existing examples show that work is needed on that point – as well as introducing support for Windows Phone handsets – “more relevant each and every day, especially since the Nokia deal”.
It’s also looking at the possibility of introducing advertising and in-app payments in the future, to ensure artists have different ways to make money from their music apps.
The DIY apps space is crowded, with a squeeze coming from two sides: artists and labels looking to reduce their risk by paying as little as possible for apps, and Apple taking a firmer stance against template-based apps that all look the same. With rivals establishing their profiles through their artist and label deals, Conduit will have to work hard to get a foothold in the market. That said, its ability to provide both native apps and mobile web may be its advantage – for now at least.