Nokia is a veteran of the music sponsorship game, with its latest campaign set to promote the company’s Nokia Music service as well as its Lumia Windows Phone smartphones.

Called Lumia Live Sessions, it’s a partnership with French tastemaking site La Blogotheque which will involve five free gigs around the UK, starting in late March in Bristol, then heading to Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds and London.

Annie Kearney from Nokia’s sponsorships and partnerships team told Music Ally that the emphasis will be on interesting and unique venues for the gigs, and that mobile handsets will have a role to play during the performances.

“We’ll be using light as a treatment to bring the venues to life, and mobile phones will become part of the experience at the show as well,” she said.

Each show will feature an up-and-coming headline artist and local acts chosen by Nokia’s team of UK musicologists, who usually work on compiling playlists for the Nokia Music service.

The aim is clearly to promote music discovery on that, which is an ad-free Pandora-style personal radio streaming service, complemented by the curated playlists, and with a premium Nokia Music+ tier that launched earlier this year.

“People in the UK created more than 60,000 personal mixes in January,” explained Nokia’s comms director Mark Squires. “The catalogue has expanded by 400,000 tracks since 1 January, and we know that a lot of people are using the new releases and new discoveries playlist.”

Lumia Live Sessions fits into a longer line of live activity from Nokia, including a guerilla gig with Dirty Pretty Things back in 2006, and a pair of concerts with Deadmau5 more recently to promote the Lumia range.

The upcoming gigs will spawn themed playlists on Nokia Music from the participating artists, while there’ll be NFC wristbands at the concerts which, when tagged with a Lumia phone, will take people to the playlist.

However, owners of Android NFC devices will also be able to tag the wristbands to get samples – the idea being they’ll see that if they were using Nokia Music, they could get the tracks for free.

Kearney said this activity around the concerts is essential, rather than simply relying on heavy-handed on-stage branding. “Gone are the days when you just have your brand’s name on a stage,” she said. “People can see their way right through that.”

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