Business Matters: Americans Getting Into QR Codes -- What About Music?
Business Matters: Americans Getting Into QR Codes -- What About Music?

Americans Getting Into QR Codes -- What About Music?
-- Believe it or not, people actually interact with QR codes, those odd-looking, super-pixelated boxes you see in newspaper and magazine ads, posters and postcards. According to comScore, more than 14 million Americans have scanned a QR code or bar code with a mobile phone in 2011.

QR is short for "quick response." Using a mobile app (they can be downloaded for free), a person can scan the code and be taken to a website with more information on product or event. Or the QR code might lead to a video. It's a practical way to encourage people to seek more information than can be given within the space and cost limitations of a newspaper ad, for example.

Although music didn't jump right into QR codes, it's becoming a bit more common to find them in advertisements these days. A good example is a small ad for the Nashville venue the Listening Room Café in the latest issue of the city's alternative weekly Nashville Scene. The ad includes a list of the upcoming week's concerts and QR code that link to the August calendar on the venue's site.

One type of QR code is the Microsoft Tag. Just down the street from the Listening Room Café is the Mercy Lounge, which included a Microsoft Tag in its Nashville Scene ad. Slightly less unattractive than a standard QR code, the Microsoft Tag is Microsoft's proprietary barcode that requires the Microsoft Tag scanner app.

Although the process -- getting out the smartphone, opening the appropriate app and getting a decent scan in an appropriate amount of light -- may not be the easiest thing in the world, QR codes can be handy. A band can put different QR codes to lead to different content -- one code for video, another for audio, and another to add a concert to the user's calendar. A company can use a QR code to help people RSVP for a SXSW event on Facebook.

ComScore did not happen to break out which percent of this group scanned a QR code and which scanned a bar code. But here are the specifics: 14.5 million people scanned either a QR code or bar code using a scanner app installed on a mobile phone. As for the breakdown of what percent scanned from what item: 50% scanned a code in a printed magazine or newspaper (a common place for a QR code to reside), 35% scanned a product package (a standard place for a bar code), 24% scanned a flyer or poster or kiosk (a prime place for a QR code) and 13% scanned a business card or brochure (another good place for a QR code).

Where people scanned the codes is interesting: 58% have scanned at home, 39% at a retail store, 25% at a grocery store and 20% at work. QR/bar code scanning is for the young and wealthy. About 54% of the people tracked by comScore were age 18 to 34, and roughly 55% have income above $75,000.
(comScore press release)

Publishers Beware: Videogame Revenue Down 26%
-- Watch out, licensing departments: July 2011 U.S. total videogame revenue were 26% lower than July 2010, according to NPD Group. That followed a 10% year-over-year decline in June and was the worst month since 2006. Game software revenue was down 17% and game hardware dropped 29%. The revenue dropoff can be seen in the number of 100,000-selling titles: eight this year compared to 19 last year, although a slower release schedule could be a factor.

Roku Raises $8 million In Funding
-- Roku has raised $8 million in funding from Menlo Ventures and Robert Kyncl, VP of TV and film entertainment at Google. The company's namesake product is a set-top box that connects televisions to the Internet. It's an utterly simple plug-and-play device that makes it easy to watch Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand and Hulu Plus on normal television sets. Using Roku is free, but the services may cost extra if users don't already subscribe.

Better know for its video partners, Roku also offers a number of music channels. In fact, CEO Anthony Wood told Billboard last year that music accounted for about a third of streaming hours at the time. Users install channels much like they do apps on mobile devices. Pandora consistently ranks as one of Roku's top channels and was its fourth most popular channel on Friday. Also available are TuneIn Radio, Rdio, MOG, SHOUTcast, SomaFM, Blastro, MP3tunes and a handful of others.

Roku just launched Roku 2 XS, which adds a motion-controlled remote control to the standard set-top box offering. The remote control allows users to play games such as Angry Birds by using hand gestures. At $100, the Roku 2 XS is comparable in price to Apple TV and the most expensive of Roku's boxes.