An app to please the music moguls. Welcome to FanTrail.

Fantrail logoSome may argue that the music industry only has itself to blame for it’s current ill health and lack of sustainable revenues. Clinging on to a past of the Sunday night Top 40 and the promise of wealth from the sale of singles to adoring teenage fans did nothing to future proof this industry that is now almost extinct on the high street at least.

Social networking sites have played a huge part in the discovery of new talent and the promotion of signed artists but the majority of labels still feel very uncomfortable about an environment that they can’t control and can’t directly commoditize.  So, when news of the launch of FanTrail (www.fantrail.com) hit our screens we knew that this would make a lot of moguls very happy indeed.

FanTrail is an iPhone app that allows artists / bands and their fans to connect but crucially provides a space their management to track and understand fans behaviour, purchase patterns and demographic profiles.  It’s free for both the artist / band and their fans.

FanTrail’s being launched at US music & entertainment gathering SXSW in Austin Texas next week and is a lovely piece of work.  It allows bands and artists to control and better still, start making money from their social networking space.  There are loads of cute innovations inside the app, but in short bands and their management can start of segment their fans by location, dedication and activism.

So what does this mean?  If an artist is up and running on FanTrail and they have some new material to test out they can send out an invite for a private gig to only their most active fans (the ones that buy the most music say) in a specific location, rewarding these guys with a money can’t buy opportunity.

The app also has the ability to release short sound bites, interview, samples of tracks etc to fans and once again this can be targeted by activism or location.   Fans score points by buying music through the app (& iTunes) and by checking in at gigs and concerts.

We think that there’s a rosy future for FanTrail.  The labels will love it as it has the ability to make them money, the management will love it because it makes their life just a little bit easier and the artists themselves will love it as it’s a lovely little app that allows them creativity.

So all you wannabe rock stars get yourself over to FanTrail and tell us what you think. (www.fantrail.com)

“This time it’s different” say Facebook as they acquire Beluga

Beluga corporate logoNormally when Faceboook acquire a start up they make you can offer you can’t refuse, shut you down and strip you of all your intellectual assets.  Highly effective but just a tad on the brutal side.

So, when news of their acquisition of Beluga (belugapods.com) was broken by the boys over at TechCrunch we assumed it would be just another slash and burn job.  But we were wrong.  Facebook have explicitly stated that this won’t be the case and in an open letter on the Belgua website state. “Beluga and Facebook are committed to create new and better ways to communicate and share group experiences.”

Beluga is a free mobile group messaging service so a little bit like Foursquare in that you can share your location, but just (& only) with your friends.   You can also share photos, updates etc with the group but again, completely privately.  It’s made up of a team of three bright young things who learnt their craft at Google and created a bit of a feeding frenzy when they went out into the market looking for angel funding but as we now know Facebook got there first.

So, what’s the future for Beluga?   The privacy of their users, which is so closely guarded seems a little at odds with the Facebook mantra of give us your data and we’ll sell it, but other than that this seems like a perfect fit.

Could it be that this is Facebook tacitly admitting that there are some users out there who aren’t prepared to share their life with the world?  Could this be their first move in building an alternative service where privacy is key?  We’ll wait to find out.

To read the original TechCrunch article http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/01/facebook-beluga/

Is Apple’s design Genius about to quit?

Image of jony iveWith today’s news being dominated by the mixed success of The Social Network at the Oscars we’d be forgiven for thinking that there was much else going on in the world of digital technology. But wait, hidden amongst pictures of Justin Timberlake  modelling a divine Tom Ford ensemble there’s rumour and speculation that Jony Ive the Brit responsible for the iconic iPhone design is on the verge of quitting.

Reports say that Ive is desperate for his children to be raised and educated back home in our fair isle but that his bosses at Apple say that a move back to the UK would make his position in the company untenable.  He’s also just cashed in his share options and with it boosted his personal wealth to over $120 million.  Company insiders say that Ive and the Apple board are at loggerheads with neither side willing to back down.

All of this wouldn’t be too much of a problem if there was a clear succession plan in place as it becomes increasingly likely that Steve Jobs won’t return.  With over 1/3 of shareholders voting for a proposal to force the board to disclose their plans, more turmoil at the top of the tree comes at a bad moment for the board and shareholders alike.

What we do know for sure is that for Ive it’s never really been about the money and with Apple becoming the new frenemy is he feeling uncomfortable with an organisation that seems to be shifting away from it’s founding philosophies?

What ever Ive’s decision his work and achievements at Apple will remain legend.