Earlier in his career, as the CEO of the Knitting Factory Entertainment, Jared Hoffman focused heavily on how digital platforms could be leveraged to draw fans to concerts. Now a consultant, he’s helping companies utilize Web 2.0 and mobile services to their best advantage.

At Billboard’s upcoming Mobile Entertainment Live event in San Diego Oct. 6, he will moderate the “Strategy Roundtable: Marketing, Music and Mobile” panel, examining ways artists, managers and labels can best use mobile phones as a key leg in their marketing and promotional strategy. He recently spoke with Billboard about some of his ideas.

What are your thoughts on where the mobile music market is today?
I think it’s an incredibly tricky space and also a very promising space. Everyone wants to have their entertainment on their person at all times, and mobile phones are the device that makes it possible. On the other hand, in terms of receiving communication, we’re very selective, very private. Text is one of the most immediate forms of communication, and we don’t like to let just anyone pierce the veil of our privacy so readily. So the challenge for marketing is finding through what medium and when it’s OK to communicate with an audience, about what. The primary challenge is to decide what is compelling enough for a consumer to voluntarily give permission to communicate with them. It has to be compelling enough and not intrusive enough so they don’t turn around in three days and say they don’t want to hear from you anymore. Unlike e-mail, there’s a very fast spam shutdown system.

What are the challenges to using mobile as a marketing/communications platform?
The iPhone has been a very popular platform and there are several applications out there that allow artists to make their own specific consumer-facing applications. So if you’re a real fan of the artist, you can download it and it gives you a direct channel into content, communication with other fans, blog updates and other information. That’s a deliberate and conscious decision by a fan to invite an artist into their homes. On Twitter, you can follow any artist you want to subscribe to and watch. It’s a very low-commitment kind of thing. The final level is the most intrusive—getting a text-message pushed directly to you. That is proving to be the toughest nut to crack. Twitter you can turn off, an iPhone app you don’t have to watch. People are very cautious about who they invite into steady, interrupt-always kind of communications.

How can emerging artists without an existing fanbase best take advantage of mobile platforms?
That’s a good question. It’s one that has to be explored further. An application that sits on someone’s phone is only going to be as successful as an artist is broad. Yes, you can create it and maybe it’s a great way of keeping in touch with 10 fans, but it’s not going to necessarily help you grow your community. The tools for growing your fanbase remain on mobile the same as you would need on any platform—viral marketing. I don’t think it’s necessarily a mobile specific conversation. Emerging artists need to engage with all the best viral marketing platforms out there, and all the ones that are best will have mobile access. In the case of Twitter for instance you can text in your updates.

Do you think artists, labels and managers are utilizing their mobile opportunities in the best way they could?
I think the jury is out on whether there are mobile-specific marketing opportunities vs. general opportunities. There are very few service that are available on one and not another, and that line is getting thinner. Everything from e-mail to running an application on a browser is something that can occur on a desktop or mobile platform. So as for standout mobile campaigns, it’s not clear to me that they’re there yet. It’ll be interesting to hear from label and artist management representatives if they’ve found anything that’s unique to mobile that’s really worked for them.

Can mobile marketing applications exist by themselves or do they need to function with a broader digital play?
Mobile needs to be part of a larger integrated strategy. That should be seamless. That said, there may be a few specific forms of mobile marketing that we need to explore and understand how we can more directly monetize. Those remain how to turn text and turn voice. It’s very old school, but it’s one of the few things that mobile devices do that no other device does, and it has a certain immediacy and resonance that can be very difficult to tame and control. It will be interesting to see if and how people are doing that.

Is there anything the mobile industry needs to understand better about the music business that would make this convergence stronger and more effective?
It’s an understanding about the intense passion our audience has for our artists, and how directly that shapes their willingness to communication, and how critical it is to shape the message to engage that audience on a new platform. A lot of top-down sales techniques are doomed to fail. It’s about bottom-up discovery. The more that tools can create ways to invite the mobile platform or marketing message into their device, the better. It’s really respecting and understanding that boundary and figuring out how to get that just right so people feel as if they’re inviting you in.

Hoffman will be moderating the Strategy Roundtable panel “Marketing, Music and Mobile” at Billboard’s Mobile Entertainment Live, taking place Oct. 6 in San Diego as part of the CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment conference. Other panelists include the Dorrian Porter of Mozes, Ashley Jex of Bill Silva Entertainment, The Orchard’s Nathan Thompson, Sean Rosenberg of Sony Music Entertainment, and Billy Alvarado of Lala.
Keynotes include conversations with Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, the top entertainment content executives from Verizon Wireless and AT&T, and BlackBerry creator Research in Motion.
A full agenda is available at www.billboardevents.com .