Apple's App store editorial department – tasked with selecting and promoting the best apps on the crowded site – now holds enormous power over the success or failure of music industry apps, panelists said during “The New Music Industry” discussion at the Music App Summit, part of Billboard's Mobile Entertainment Live! proceedings today in San Francisco.

Warner Bros Records senior VP of digital music Jack Isquith said working with the Apple App Store editors was key to the success of their Linkin Park app 8-Bit Rebellion, which initially sold 50,000 copies after its April release. With more than 250,000 apps in existence, Apple's App Store editors wield incredible clout: determining whether a new app gets up-front placement on the site, or languishes in obscurity.

“Apple placement was crucially important,” Isquith said, during the hour-long panel, moderated by Bill Werde, editorial director for Billboard. There is currently no Billboard Music App Chart, noted Werde, but maybe there should be. Sales charts have long been a powerful tool for building a band's brand.

Similar to their past practices with radio and MTV, placing apps in front of Apple App Store editors may emerge as a crucial new marketing function of music labels, as more and more bands craft apps to boost engagement with fans. Death Cab For Cutie's free app received 100,000 downloads thanks to its placement on the App Store home page - all without the help of Atlantic Records, noted Justin Little, manager at Zeitgeist Artist Management. But thanks to major label budgets, “We can create our own opportunities,” said Matt Kozlov, VP of Sony Music.

Rick Farman, co-founder of Bonnaroo promoter Superfly Presents noted consumer filters like the Apple App Store editors are hard to come by today. “It used to be radio, labels, MTV, now it's Pandora and other places.”

Kristin Hersh, a member of the band Throwing Muses, founding member of CASH Music said CASH's customers have foresaken filters entirely and dropped out of the conventional promotional system. Hersh said her band 50 Foot Wave drove live show ticket sales with two to three million free downloads of their album, all using a post-label infrastructure.

“It has worked for me. I'm not sure it would work for everyone," Hersh said. "I had to take very seriously that that's the new definition of a band.”


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