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The Band iPhone App

Arron Clague is a member of the indie electro band Eight to Infinity, whose music I’ve had the pleasure of mastering many times. He was kind enough to share his thoughts on the band’s shiny new iPhone app below. -Brian

App downloads: 278
Songs listened to: 920

InfinityHome has been live for four days now. The iPhone application, based on a framework developed by Mobile Roadie, consolidates news data from our RSS feed at eighttoinfinity.com, streaming music from Amazon, and our Twitter feed.  It also provides a simple fan wall. The app ties everything together for us, giving us yet another channel for interaction, traction, and building a community around Eight to Infinity.

iPhone app

To be honest, it’s an expensive experiment. We’ve received great feedback from listeners at Jango, iLike, and Last.fm, but we have no idea how committed they are as fans. It’s safe to assume that anyone who downloads and continues to use an application has a higher affinity for what we are doing with our music.

In a lot of ways it’s a flawed experiment. How many of our potential fans even have an iPhone? Though Mobile Roadie may develop a Blackberry framework in the future, for the moment we can only address a small percentage of potential fans. But looking at things the other way round, how many of the millions of iPhone users can we convert to Eight to Infinity fans?

For a $400 dollar punt, we decided to proceed and see where we went. Our motivation was not necessarily to increase sales, or to earn revenue from the app, which we made available for free download. The goal was to increase awareness of our music, join up all the island communities across the web, and solve the fragmentation across Last.fm, Jango, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest.

Another motivation is that we are now being tracked by services such as RockDex and Music Xray. They measure how active our community is. When we do licensing deals, music supervisors can now see that we are managing and growing our community in an active way. For example, go to the audio page of our site and open up the tabs on our Music Xray. You can see how well we are doing across a large range of services. Why would anyone invest in a band that doesn’t invest any effort into promoting themselves?

And so the experiment begins.

I haven’t done anything new marketing-wise beyond announcing the app’s availability where I would commonly post news about track releases. I suppose I could have gone to traditional press and blogs and made it a “news” event, although I suspect that this would only lead to resentment of the band, in return for exposure which is never going to result in sales. Nothing pisses people off more than a little alternative band running around trying to get in the newspaper with some scam. All of sudden everyone knows who you are, but everyone hates you! (see Raygun viral video)

What is surprising are the numbers, which are higher than the response we normally get from track release postings – despite the fact that only a small percentage of our fanbase has an iPhones or iPod Touch. So either people who were on the fence about Eight to Infinity downloaded it, which is great, or the app has some life outside our normal marketing sphere. For example, I was surprised to learn that many web sites syndicate the App Store feed and republish the content for their own ends (advertising revenue).

One thing is for certain: Apps can go where mp3’s can’t.

In that sense, the app is successful. But in terms of direct sales, it’s a bust with only 38 individual track downloads so far. To be fair, we only have the back catalogue album Aether on there. I think things will be different when we have something new to promote. Along with renewed community focus, the app should allow us to leverage new releases with a higher impact than we’ve achieved in the past.

You can download InfinityHome from the iTunes App Store here.

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    August 17, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Does anyone have experience building a band iPhone app through iLike? If so, I’d love to hear about it! It appears to only be $99 right now with no monthly fee, but maybe I’m just not seeing the fine print.

  • Reply
    Dave Lopez
    August 20, 2009 at 10:52 am

    I think this is a fantastic idea and a wise investment. In today’s music business building your fan base is much more important than selling tracks through an online service – at least in the beginning. But then you already know this because you said something that most bands or musicians don’t really get yet. And that is “Why would anyone invest in a band that doesn’t invest any effort into promoting themselves?” Brilliant! You get it!

    As soon as I hit Submit I’m going over to InfinityHome on iTunes.
    -dave lopez: Cr@zyEye Music Services

  • Reply
    Arron Clague
    August 25, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Hi Dave : yeah thanks : that yeah : attitude is everything 🙂 A week later, we have 55 track sales with 380 users though just the app, so it might actually pay for itself eventually.

    It will be interesting to see how a new track goes out through the App : probably a lot of people who downloaded the app originally, already have the Aether album.

    We have new tracks queued for release from a couple of record companies, so I will report back on that !

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    August 25, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    I’m actually quite impressed with those sales, but I wonder how accurate the figure is. I notice when I click the “buy” button in the app, it takes me to iTunes. I wonder if they count that as a single track sale, when for all they know I could buy the whole album, or nothing at all.

  • Reply
    Arron Clague
    August 25, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Hi brian : The record sales for itunes go though section44 records, who we have never had any sales feedback from , so I cant verify that these are actual sales, rather than “Clickthoughs” as it were.

    My point is that sales /potential/ is there. I suspect the figure is merely clickthroughs, now you mention it, and Im unable to break it down further.

    Best : A

  • Reply
    frank danna
    August 26, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    At $400 and $30 a month, it seems like a continually steep investment! Congrats on the downloads/song purchases though!

    Our company has just launched an iPhone app that connects artists/venues and fans for only $10 per month for artists, and allows all artists to be in one place, instead of having one app per artist. Try it free for a month with promo “iTunes”.

    Check it out here: http://www.onseekermusic.com

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