ME exec ed Tim Green checked out Nokia's new music service, with mixed results...Two great things emerged out of the recent England football game against Belarus. One was a comfortable win for the boys in white, the other was the glorious sight of perimeter ads for Nokia Comes With Music (technology and entertainment) being rotated with Pukka Pies (steak and kidney).
Ah, the incongruity of mass market advertising. I’ve eaten plenty of Pukkas over the years, and over the last few days I’ve had a chance to try all-you-can-eat music thanks to the PR team at Nokia. The verdict? Mixed.
As most people know by now, Comes With Music on a 5300 XpressMusic handset is all sideloaded. There’s not even a link to the Music Store on the 2.5G handset. So first you have to load up the Nokia Music PC app, which predictably didn’t load properly, then crashed, then finally installed but worked pretty slowly. Bad start, but then things got much better.
The store itself is nicely arranged, easy to navigate and very quick to download tracks. Once I’d entered my Comes With Music authorisation code the prices all fell away and the whole store became my plaything. That was delicious. And there was plenty of that weird jazz I like, so I can’t fault the range of music in the shop.
Transferring music to the handset was wonderfully quick and easy too. And listening? The 5300 comes with a regular headphone jack, so I used by own earpieces and was happily blasted with a satisfyingly loud and bassy sound.
Next up I tried to fool the system by connecting my N95 to the PC in an attempt to sideload Comes With Music tracks to a non-registered device. Didn’t work, which Nokia will be pleased about. But it did crash the application again, which strikes me as harsh punishment for my impudence.
So you can see that the Comes With Music concept works (for the consumer at least), but as ever it’s the implementation that is shaky. It’s also interesting to compare the experience with Omnifone's MusicStation, which offers unlimited tracks for a monthly fee.
Unlike Comes With Music on a 5300, MusicStation works from the handset. Downloads are pretty quick and the catalogue is very deep. I found the user interface a little bewildering – tracks can’t just be played, they have to be added to a playlist first – and playback was far too quiet for me (although that is more likely down to the handset).
But what both services are clearly doing is attempting to claim music for mobile, after years of domination by iTunes and the PC.
As for the music industry, well, this can’t be about revenue. The 5300 Comes With Music costs £60 more than the ‘regular’ 5300 so the split between the labels is tiny. And for this, they’re giving away potentially thousands of tracks each.
At the launch, one senior label exec admitted to me that Comes With Music is not about revenue but killing off file sharing. Hope it works.