Groove Armada's Cato to deliver weekly tracks.
U.K.-based wireless carrier O2 is using the mobile-phone platform to challenge the traditional music business model.
The cellular-phone operator has formed a groundbreaking partnership with Andy Cato, member of Sony BMG-based signed British dance act Groove Armada. O2 has struck a deal with Cato's solo project that enables him to supply two recorded tracks each week.
Cato will compose the tracks in his studio in Spain, and digitally deliver them to a mastering studio in the United Kingdom. From there, the track will be uploaded onto O2's database of nearly 200,000 songs from Sony BMG, Warner Music International, Universal Music International and various independents.
"It takes me back to the early days of dance music when things were much more spontaneous; I could work on a tune on Monday and have it out by Friday," Cato tells Billboard.biz.
Cato will provide a track every Friday and Sunday, with the first one due this Friday (July 8). Tracks cost £1.00 to download to mobile. Alternatively, users can upload the songs to PCs.
Cato retains the copyright in the songs, but has licensed the tracks for O2 to market, distribute and sell. At present, Cato's songs are accessible exclusively via O2 Active's portal on the Siemens SX1 device and the new O2-branded XM handsets, the first available in the United Kingdom with pre-installed music player and Intel computer chip.
London-based John Ingham, O2's U.K. head of content acquisition, admits the concept is still an experiment. "We are more than just the distributor; this is a partnership to learn and understand what is happening in the mobile space and we will share the revenue," Ingham says. O2 in talks with other artists about similar deals.