Welcome to the second part of the mobile youth trends and behavior coverage. Today, Jan Kuczynski, Associate Manager at the Wireless World Forum, who is also the co-author of the mobileYouth 2006 report will be visiting here! Jan has been with Wireless World Forum for almost a year with a focus on emerging mobile trends and technology. Prior to joining W2F, Jan spent two years in snowy northern Japan and one year in the sunny south of France “I can personally recommend the Jurançon sec to anyone into their white wines”.
For those of you who missed the first part of the mobile youth trends coverage: Nick Wright, Jan's colleague, visited Xellular Identity last week and we had a great conversation - you can read it here.
Well, enough said... Jan, the stage is yours!
-Hi Jan, how are you?
Good thanks, Xen. Thanks for inviting me at Xellular Identity!
-How’s the weather in London?
We’ve been really lucky recently actually - it’s another bright and sunny autumn day!
-What got you interested in mobile?
I’ve always had an interest in the latest technology, but I suppose I really fell in love with my mobile when I spent two years living in Japan. There were some great handsets and services over there which kept me busy during my daily train commute. I would always be using my mobile to shop on Amazon, check maps using GPS or just browse around. Since I came back to the UK, I’ve stopped using my mobile so much. I still like to keep my eye on some of the new mobile developments back over in Japan - though sometimes it makes me just a little jealous…
-What takes up your time other than mobile?
Reading (I’ll have to look into your recommendation of Murakami’s “Wind-up Bird Chronicle”!), rugby league, skiing and getting out of London now and again to see the rest of the world. I’ve also been in big trouble with my housemate recently for repeatedly stealing their new Nintendo DS with tetris!
-Today’s topic is mobile music - do you use your mobile as a music player?
Actually, I don’t! The biggest deal breaker is that my handset doesn’t have a regular headphone socket. I really hate the standard headphones that come bundled with most ‘music phones’ these days so I would only use my phone as a music player if I could use my headphones. The other issue that holds me back is the lack of a good all-in-one music service that will let me use my mobile music on my PC and not cost me a fortune in data charges for OTA downloads from my phone.
-OK, not a mobile music convertee yet ;) but you’re a music fan, right?
Yes I am - and so it was fun to do research into the new trends in youth music consumption and try out some of the services that are so popular with today’s teens - in fact, I even went to two concerts of artists that I found out about on MySpace!
-Does music take a different role in the lives of teenagers and adults?
Yes, it does. As we grow older, we tend to have smaller groups of close friends, but for teenagers, friends, peers and social groups are the most important things in their lives. Music is a powerful social tool for teenagers - it gives them something to talk about, social status from knowing about the newest and coolest bands and the type of music you listen to can even define which social group you belong to (in my school you were either a metal-er or a raver based on your music tastes - I’ll let you guess which one I was ;) ).
-What are the key drivers for music’s appeal to youth?
Youth don’t just play music - they explore, display and share music. Firstly, youth can only use music as a social tool if it’s up-to-date, so unless youth constantly put feelers out to explore new music, they get left behind. Secondly, teens like to display their music tastes - whether it’s through their CD rack, their Coldplay t-shirt or simply by turning up their headphones so everyone can hear. Thirdly, youth like sharing music as it earns them social currency and reinforces peer bonds - that’s why teenagers spend time and effort burning compilation CDs for their friends.
-Has the way youth consume music changed over the last 10 years?
The key drivers haven’t changed - youth still want to explore, display and share their music - but the music industry itself has undergone a big transformation over the last few years. Music formats have shifted from analogue to digital and sources of new music have become more diverse. When I was younger, there was only one music chart, one MTV and just a handful of radio stations for youth. Now there’s the internet, a whole spectrum of music charts and channels and more and more specialist music genres (HipHopera or Neo-Rave anyone?).
-What music services are most popular among teens?
The most popular teen music services now are internet services which help youth best explore, display and share their music in the new fragmented, digital music world. Some services focus on improving one of these aspects (for example, Last.fm focuses on exploring, BBC’s Musicubes are a new way of displaying and Kazaa is mainly about sharing), whereas some enhance all three. MySpace, for example, is all about exploring for new music through a social network, displaying your music tastes on your homepage and sharing new tracks with a community of peers.
-How can we make mobile music more appealing to youth?
I think we need to move beyond the “mp3 playback” mindset to make mobile music a competitor for other popular youth music services. Just adding mp3 playback to a handset doesn’t exploit mobile music’s potential to let youth explore, display and share their music.
I’ve started to see some great new mobile products and services which do exactly that. For exploring, mobile technologies such as QR codes, image and audio recognition provide really interesting opportunities to use the mobile to discover new music. For displaying, there is a growing market for Bluetooth speakers which help youth make a display of their music collection, and there’s a great handset called “Neon” in Japan which shows the track title and artist in glowing LEDs along the side of the phone. For sharing, Vodafone have developed a DRM system where young people can swap music over Bluetooth, MMS, infrared and memory cards and there are some new music services that let youth share playlists with friends.
Mobile music has great potential, but I think it’s only by using mobile technology to build on the key drivers of exploring, displaying and sharing that we can make mobile music services more appealing to youth.
Thank you Jan! :)
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Next week there will be a new guest visiting here and talking about the art of marketing mobile services for the youth segment. Wanna know who??? - don't forget to tune in next Thursday to find out!