"What's interesting to me," said Brenna Ehrlich of MTV Networks, who moderated the "Music 2.0: Engaging Fans with Mobile Social Apps" panel Tuesday afternoon, to kick things off, "is how the advent of the iPhone has changed how we go to shows." During the next hour, the panelists focused largely on this: How the proliferation of smart phones has changed the experience of being a music fan and how the industry can best leverage the phenomenon.
And the experience has changed. For a live show, for example, fans use mobile websites and apps leading up to a show to get information and plans. They check into shows when they arrive and open apps at the show to capture elements of their experiences. And, after the show, they continue sharing those experiences.
"It's an emotional thing. People love sharing." said Steve Cheney of GroupMe. "We've seen crazy data" about how people organize around events, even months before.
The experience has changed at the event itself as well. "At the Jay-Z show last night, no one was looking at Jay-Z. Everyone was looking at their screens," said Michael Schneider, CEO of Mobile Roadie. Schneider argues that apps are more powerful than mobile-optimized websites because they can create a more of a sense of community and, through push notifications, artists are able to "reach fans where they are."
Still, says Schneider, there's a distinct way of how to do this correctly. "If you don't have compelling content, and you're not willing to invest time in making it compelling and interesting to fans, there's no point."
While the panelists agreed artists and the industry is still working on trying to figure out the optimal ways of leveraging mobile applications, engaging with fans on the web is a must, says Glenn Miller of Creative Arts Agency. "It's just part of being a celebrity."