In March 2010, the Teen Panel travelled to the heart of the music industry, Music 4.5 Conference put on by 2 Pears. Another digital industry that is struggling with revenue models. Another opportunity to challenge a number of assumptions about young people. Another real world learning opportunity for the teenage panellists!
The Panel Introduce themselves
The first industry presenter takes the stage – Robert Thomas from RJDJ.
The audience goes wild and Shivz becomes the star of the show! RJDJ is an i-Phone App, that creates music live for the user, in response to their surrounding sounds picked up by the microphone and their movement. The user becomes the artist. During the demo, it felt as if the product was not shown off to its full potential. The focus was on Shivz’ live rap, rather than the functionality of the product.
TubeRadio.fm helps you find, organise and listen to music videos on the web – they are developing an i-Phone App. While the TubeRadio.fm presentation felt a bit more like an investor pitch, the product was clearly demonstrated – It is a music video site that is positioned to improve the experience of watching music videos online.
CitySounds.fm enablers their users to listen and discover the latest music from cities around the world. It shows the latest chart is where you find recently updated cities; offers individual city pages for more tracks, genres and stats and the popular chart showing the 32 most popular cities. Users can help a city climb the chart by tweeting or sharing it on Facebook.
Zova is “the world’s first music + rhythm football training programme.” Specific drum rythms correspond to particular training excercises which are demonstrated by professionals on their media device. I would have liked to show this to a panel of young people that are specifically football training. On this particular panel, only two of the boys used to train.
- 1. “Make it work on all phones” – or do we just bide our time?
While Teens do want to try out new stuff now, as with many other new products, such as picture messaging, the market needs to bide its time for the hardware to move through its natural lifecycle. I would propose that in terms of market penetration in the younger generation, the i-Phone is still in the Introduction Phase. Younger teens often start their mobile life with the parents old phone or with prepay, so perhaps we need to wait another year or two. None of the teen panellists in the last three sessions I have run have an i-Phone or an Android. As per previous blogs, Blackberries are quite popular with the more affluent teens, where they will buy the same phones as their friends to get the free blackberry messenger service. I have also come across an example of a teen that has a Blackberry because it was a hand-me-down from a parent.
2. The Teens were good at finding uses and recognising practical benefits for the products they were shown.
These observations provide great insight to help companies develop their user positioning. Caution! These young people responded really well to new ideas – the “shiny” effect! However, this does not mean that they would actually become a user of the product.
“I like the idea of being able to note lyrics really easily when you’re on the go…” But surely there are other ways to do this – Pen/Paper or Recorder on phone?!
“This is actually something I’ve been looking for myself. I really like the idea of music videos in a playlist, and being able to play them at a party.”
“I like the fact that you can watch a load of music videos in succession
“It’s artsy, I like that about it, and the fact that you can capture the essence of different cities. It’s a really good idea, and I haven’t heard of anything like that before.”
“I do like the idea of music from different locations and backgrounds… This is going to be great for new artists looking to promote their own music.”
Rachel travels to see family in Brazil regularly and could see that this is something she would use.
“you’ve got harsh competition – Nike, Adidas”
3. The Teens wanted to make sure that the product offered choices, particularly in the selection of music, where they wanted to be able to discover music by genre.
“I think this is a really amazing app … but it only focuses on urban genres like hip-hop.”
“Can you use other instruments – can you put in a guitar?”
“Will you be doing a mobile version that’s easier to use?”
“Would you be able to buy the videos so you can watch them on your iPod?”
“I think it’s really good… The only thing is will you be able to use it on your phone?”
“say I click on Barcelona, can I choose a genre, or does it just come up with the top songs?”
“I can’t really relate to that. There’s a certain genre I listen to in the morning…”
“From your presentation it looks like it only focuses on dance music. What I’d like to see is to have some sort of mood setting”
“I’m a bit confused whether I like it or not really. I tend to stick to one genre at a time. Is it really new artists, or only the latest tracks coming onto the radio within that country?”
“you should stretch to more sports than just football”
“I don’t play football, but I saw in the video you had a skateboarder in the background, so you could stretch to a different type of sport.”
“It would be good for general fitness – maybe use within a gym”
“Not everyone listens to that music. I’m from London, I’m not from Sao Paulo… ”
4. Is it free? Are young people spending money on music?
All the presenters were asked this question. Shivz thought it was a misconception that young people are not spending money on music. He asked the audience how they thought that artists like Tinchy Stryder had managed so many music sales – was it really the older generations that would buy that style of music? I am sure that there are stats somewhere to shed some light on this? See Vic Keegan’s article!
Tube Radio is free – at which point the audience began to scratch is communal head! So how will they make money?
One of the panellists commented “it’s good that it’s free, because most teenagers don’t really want to spend money on anything!”
5. Adopting familiar user interfaces is a good idea!
When teens are presented with products, they will naturally liken them to products that they are already familiar with. This is useful for companies to hear where this group see the natural competitors, and it is also an indication that companies could reference these other sites in their material to help get across what their product does.
Tube Radio –
“I like the idea how it’s quite the same layout as iTunes, so people will be familiar with it”.
“I thought it was good, and quite interested in the way you combine iTunes and YouTube”
6. Teens show their sophistication
Citysounds.fm – “would you have to enter the city you’re in, or would it automatically work it out?” (It is automatic)
Zova – Some of the panellists struggled with the practicality of listening to music while they were football training.
“It would be good for general fitness – maybe use within a gym”
“I think it could be a good idea for workout sessions.”
“You can’t listen to music when you’re training, unless it’s in the gym.”
“I was at Butlins, and these kids came over and they were playing music, and I was like ‘why are you playing music? We’re playing football!’
CitySounds.fm and TubeRadio.fm were the most popular with the panel and RJDJ had a shout out from Shivz.
Unfortunately, due to previous sessions over-running, the Q&A was cut from the session. Shivz was invited on stage by Mike Butcher and Jemima Kiss to join their closing remarks. He wondered why there weren’t more labels at the conference and naturally he put in his pitch for any free stuff that was going!
Thanks to Richard Cardwell and “pevijo” on Flickr for the photographs.