November 10, 2008

iPhone Applications: Making OurStage Bigger

While Myspace and Facebook struggle to incorporate music-marketing platforms into their existing online empires, many websites that began exclusively streaming audio continue to evolve, utilizing new technology to attain the mainstream success the other social networking websites have been experiencing. After some online investigation, I learned that both Pandora and have produced iPhone applications, which upon release doubled their user base in a few short months. However, while Pandora and are the definitive independent music outlets, especially given their recent mobile achievements, a new player has entered cyberspace within the last year fronting the most indie-centric business model of all. Welcome OurStage, an online “music discovery destination dedicated to finding new artists” that boasts a rating system allowing users to determine which independent bands will get maximum exposure and which will have to assess their careers. Having enjoyed moderate success upon its inception in 2007, OurStage has mimicked Pandora and by releasing OurStage Radio just last week. An iPhone application that simplifies the website’s voting process into a mobile stream-and-vote platform, OurStage Radio is poised to take streaming applications to a new level of usability and interactivity. Although Myspace and Facebook have large goals and business models such as breaking down multiple applications into their larger interfaces, the more refined websites like Pandora, and now OurStage have successfully utilized the iPhone application, spreading their focused media initiatives to a larger audience.

Given “the iPhone and related products accounted for 40% of Apple’s revenue last quarter," it is clear that a large number of people are using iPhone applications. By developing mobile software as an extension of what has already been established online, often overlooked streaming audio websites are finding ways to effectively introduce their services to a large reserve of consumers. This works due to the simplistic nature of the iPhone interface, which in Pandora’s case proved to be even more user friendly than the website itself (see graphic above.) Pandora unleashed their iPhone application in July of this year and currently have almost 2 million registered members using it. Before this however, Pandora founder Tim Westergren began the “Music Genome” project in 2000 and built an undying fan dedication to fast, functional and user-friendly streaming that eventually caught on with tech-savvy music listeners. Despite recent struggles to stay afloat, Pandora continues to have extremely loyal support from its users. Their reputation, coupled with the revised structure and simple layout of the iPhone application, bred success in the form of an overwhelming burst of new interest when the application was released. To borrow from the post “Pandora Doubles Listeners With iPhone App” by Eric Benderoff of The Chicago Tribune, “I’m amazed at how many people have said they have known about Pandora but have not used it until the iPhone came out,” Westergren said. “I would not have expected that.” The Pandora iPhone application had a new member sign up every two seconds over the first few days of release.

As Pandora continues to have success, and works to revise their current application, whether or not OurStage Radio will introduce more users to the service remains questionable. However, by starting iPhone promotion later than Pandora and, OurStage has the advantage of learning from the other's accomplishments and failures. They also seem to have the same mentality as Pandora in terms of structuring the software as a simplified version of the main webpage. By simplifying the cage-match style voting process to a thumbs up, thumbs down method, depicted in the graphic to the left, and streaming only one song at a time, OurStage Radio increases user interactivity. This way, the application can fit and function on an iPhone while still generating meaningful statistics and streaming content, achieving both of OurStage's marketing goals. OurStage Radio has a leg up on both Pandora and’s iPhone programs because of the degree to which the users interact with the mobile interface. Pandora's has limited options,’s is too complex, yet OurStage's employs a simple rating system with streaming content as well as the standard playlist and share features that are commonplace in all three applications. No statistics regarding potential accomplishments are available yet, but there is a great chance for OurStage Radio to be triumphant. Though the underlying punch line to these websites' mobile marketing plans is Apple rules the current online music world, and will continue to do so for a very long time as they continue to provide the innovative outlets these websites need to compete in a congested industry.

1 comment:

Free IPhone Apps said...

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