INTERVIEW: Adva Mobile

It's no doubt a computer age. With sales of CDs dropping like flies and iTunes mp3s selling (sort of) like hotcakes, the shift into the interactive age seems to be exactly what the fans are after. As artists struggle to keep up with the times, its the ones that embrace the changing tide and the multiple outlets toward their fans via the smattering of successful technology-based services that will end up victorious in the end.

One of those new services is titled Adva Mobile, a text-messaging-based fan club for artists and their fans. The aim is to create a mobile version of a MySpace-like homebase for an artist. The service is free, and allows fans to text a name (ex. "Mel") to a certain number to recieve updates from their fave artist. Right now, the service is only available to customers from the USA, but they are working on expanding.

Check out this short video with a demo on how the service works:


Melismatic is lucky enough to have the VP of Marketing, Amir Rozenberg, answer a few questions about this up and coming service. My many thanks to Amir for taking the time to answer our questions. For more information on this service, check out their official website, or their MySpace. You can also read their launching press release here via PDF.

Give us the big sales pitch. What's Adva Mobile about?
AR: Musicians can be effective in their reach to fans by interacting with them on their most personal device: their phones, which is on them all the time. The Mobile Fan Club is a free service from Adva Mobile, that powers musicians to create a community of loyal fans by giving them a great experience on their mobile phones. Happy followers means musicians can focus on creating music and experiencing it on stage.

When did this service launch?
We launched in Jan 2009, and have by now about 80 bands and some hundreds of fans.

How did this idea come about? What made you want to create it?
We thought about what musicians and their fans really want. Musicians tell us they want to concentrate on creating music and performing on stage. It's an energy kick. Fans want to experience music that does something to them. Fans want to feel that they are special and important to the band, like, being on "the inside". They want to have a personal connection with the band. Sometimes we hear bands say they want to release only mastered stuff. There's nothing more flattering to a fan than getting exclusive access to non-mastered recording or interview, to get a peek at who the artist really is. Once fans feel special and recognized, they will stay loyal and follow the band, as well as spread the word to their friends.

Musicians use the web to connect to their fans: MySpace, Email, more recently Facebook etc. That approach, though, leaves the initiative in the hands of the fan: they need to come to the musicians' website. Mobile phones really serve that relationship well. Fans are mobile, using their phones all the time, personalizing it, communicating with it, listening to music and browsing the web. They are looking for excitement. Musicians can take the initiative and give that excitement to their fans: if they send a personalized SMS to their fans, who wouldn't open it?

How long did it take to get the idea off the ground? Getting hooked up to all of the cell services, etc.? We started in March '08. Took us about 9 months to get everything in place: web, mobile, etc. We had great help from musicians and advisers to get started, and we're very grateful to them.

How long have you been in the music industry? What about the other executives? Are you new to the industry or old hands?
We've been about 2 years in the "business of music". This initiative really started at my last company, who was selling music to fans phones from the mobile operators (like Sprint, Verizon etc.). What we found was that musicians, and fans, didn't want to know about the technology behind the scenes, operators, phones and all that. We also saw that music sales are no longer a reliable revenue stream for musicians. New ones had to be found. In the indie band scene, where fans are also friends and vice versa, bands can leverage their personal relations with the fans to get them to gigs or buy their merchandise, to remain focused on creating more music. We help that happen. Adva Mobile is bootstrapped and founded by the CEO Jack Kelly, and myself.

Are you, or any of the other executives at AdvaMobile, musicians yourselves?
We play music, and are huge music fans, but we're not active in a band. :-)

What types of artists have accounts with you? Anyone Melismatic readers would be super psyched about? Bang Camaro recently signed up, The Lights Out, McAlister Drive and many more.
(Mel's Note: Matt Mariner is also a subscriber, as is Santigold and Rascal Flatts among several others.)

Is it really free? How are you able to provide this for free?
The service is completely free to the musician. We make our money from advertising on the site and from commissions when an artists makes a ticket or merch sale. When a musician hits a threshold (tickets, page views,...), we will revenue share a portion back to the musician. We don't charge the fan either. They need to pay their mobile operator (Sprint,..) for the service, but that has nothing to do with us.

What is your opinion on the changing musical landscape from selling CDs to focusing more on selling the artist? We see a changing landscape which serves musicians well, because they are now in control of their success. Whether it's marketing budgets, promotions or simply a marketing strategy, it is now all in the hands of the musician. New, cost effective promotion tools and services are increasingly available for musicians. The musicians' efforts and focus instills greater loyalty from the fans because they can immerse themselves in the whole culture of the musician - not just their music. The focus on the artist as a brand creates improved recognition and new revenue channels for the artist, beyond physical sales.

You list your service as only being available to people in the USA. When will you go International, or at least to Canada? Since we just launched, we are very sensitive to 'what works' for musicians. So we're trying to learn as we launch new features. Canada and other countries will come soon after we feel confident that we have a good thing going for musicians here, which will happen, we hope, very soon.

What was the first album you ever bought, and the last album you have bought?
My very first album was Simon & Garfunkel's, which I still love listening to. My last purchase was a McAlister Drive CD. I really like their music and I listen to it whenever I can.
(Mel's Note: S&G are completely classic! Good choice! :) )

What's the best advice you've ever received?
When you talk, you broadcast. Stop talking, listen and learn.

Do you have any advice for kids who dream of working in the music business and/or developing a new means of promotion like you have? Embrace change. Artists face the same challenges they always have, only from a different angle: How do I differentiate? In the label days, artists' target was to get signed and join the chosen few. Now they need to differentiate among millions of quality bands, via many tools and services, and get the attention of fans. It's not a small issue, it's THE issue.
So the challenge has remained, but the target has changed. Embrace it, and opportunities appear.

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