Nokia Indonesia Aggressively Pushing Digital Music Downloads Through Nokia Music

Martin Chirotarrab presenting the Asha 302

Nokia Indonesia President Director Martin Chirotarrab at the Asha 302 launch

Nokia Indonesia launched its latest mid-range mobile phone, the Asha 302, yesterday in Jakarta. While DailySocial doesn’t normally cover gadget launches, there’s something different about this that relates to how Nokia is trying to maintain mind share as well as market share in Indonesia. Part of the strategy for this product is something that has been mentioned before on DailySocial. It may not be fool proof but Nokia certainly has the right ingredients, it’s just a matter of how the company puts them all together in its marketing push.

One of the most significant part of the puzzle here is the inclusion of Nokia Music Store in the Asha 302. Consumers who buy the 302 get a six month access to the music store in which they can download as many songs as they like for free and listen to them as often as they want.

The downloaded songs are free from copy protection mechanisms but they are of lower fidelity than songs downloaded from Apple’s iTunes Store although it means the files are much smaller by about three or four times. Higher quality versions of the songs can be downloaded from a PC running Windows through the Nokia Music software but for some reason Nokia still has yet to support Mac OS X.

Nokia isn’t the only phone vendor in Indonesia that bundles music with its phones but it currently has a library of 60 thousand songs from nine local music labels, while most other music phones in the country are tied to one particular artist or record label.

Similar to Apple’s strategy when it was pushing its iTunes+iPod strategy in the 2000s, Nokia has the hardware, software, and content in one package. Consumers only have to deal with Nokia to get the songs they want and everything is tied in neatly.

While Apple’s iTunes ecosystem only provides one free song per week, Nokia was able to persuade Indonesian music labels (presumably with truckloads of cash) to allow unlimited downloads for six months with every purchase of an Asha.

Nokia Indonesia’s President Director Martin Chirotarrab said at the launch, “Through Nokia Music, we are providing a way for consumers to enjoy the various kinds of music that they like, legally, free, and fun.”

Nokia is framing this promotion as a drive to embrace Indonesian music although it’s not really necessary given the popularity that Indonesian artists enjoy across the country. As for foreign artists, there is a limited range available at the store due to the lack of deals in place to have them on board.

Nokia has set up a Facebook page for the campaign which unfortunately is inaccessible unless you “Like” Nokia Indonesia’s own Facebook page first. At least though, this is a way to educate the market and inform consumers that downloading songs do not necessarily mean pirating them.

Nokia makes a point that what it and its partners are offering is legal and says so on each of its promotional material, something that is probably superfluous or unnecessary. When people seek out music online to enjoy, they do so despite the legalities. It doesn’t really matter from their point of view if the method is legal or not, it’s about how easy or effortless they can get the songs.

One of the major reasons the iTunes Store became so popular is because the process of buying songs through it is very easy thanks to Apple having consumers’ credit card details on file as well as having a payment option through iTunes Gift Cards.

The downloaded files from iTunes are guaranteed of high quality, what you click to download is what you get, the identifying tags are all filled in, you get a cover art, and you can preview the songs prior to downloading. Consumers are allowed to play it on up to five computers and ten mobile devices, which are plenty enough for an individual.

The user experience in acquiring songs from Nokia Music is almost similar with one caveat: After six months, the access to Nokia Music ends. While all the files that have been downloaded can still be played with no restrictions whatsoever (a major plus over iTunes songs), consumers won’t be able to download anything new afterwards.

Speaking to Widi Asmoro, head of Nokia Music in Entertainment Services Manager for Nokia Indonesia, he said that the company is still looking at options to allow music fans to enjoy songs from Nokia Music beyond the six month limit but isn’t prepared to say anything beyond that.

A number of options seem rather obvious though. Nokia could offer individual song downloads paid through phone credits, a system which already is in place for Nokia Store which sells mobile apps. It could also run some sort of a subscription deal, again, paid through phone credits or perhaps a separate voucher system.

One major hurdle facing both scenarios though, is how the pie will be distributed. Specifically, how much will each stakeholder in the deal will receive from each sale of a song. Telcos are renowned for wanting to have the largest slice, and then there’s the labels’ and artists’ share, and finally Nokia’s share to cover the cost of running the store.

Once Nokia and the partners can figure this out, it’s left to the marketing departments to make sure the phones are out there, the people are aware of the service and willing to give it a shot.

The enemy of music isn’t piracy, it’s the difficulties in accessing songs legally. Make music stores very easy to use from the perspective of the consumers, allow them to enjoy the songs within reasonable expectations, and music piracy will diminish significantly.

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