Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Content Marketing: two branded magazines take different approaches to the tablet platform; Sennheiser's new digital magazine will appeal to musicians worldwide; Steinway's Listen Music Magazines launches replica

From the beginning of the tablet platform, brands have taken advantage of the platform's ability to serve up interactive content, directly connect to customers, and deliver sales – or at least new leads. The auto companies, in particular, were the first to dive into the new platform, launching some of the best early digital magazines into the App Store, and later the Newsstand.

Today two music-related companies launched new apps into the Newsstand that take very different approaches to the platform.
Blue Stage by Sennheiser is a very nice, new tablet magazine that takes an innovative approach to content marketing.

The app launches to a dialogue box where the reader selects their language preference – with English, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Chinese the options (no French, interesting). The app itself is only 9.9 MB in size so much of the multimedia content must be housed outside the app. Upon opening the app warned me that I did not have an Internet connection – even though I did – but I navigated past this pretty quickly.

As you will see from the video walk-through, there is plenty of interactivity here, as it should be for a digital magazine. "Blue Stage is a monthly magazine on all matters sonic," the app description reads. (If you are not familiar with Sennheiser then you should know that they are a leader in making of microphones and headphones, often found in professional sound studios.)

The purpose of the app, of course, is to promote the Sennheiser brand, and it does this very well, building on the brands status and meeting the expectations of both music enthusiasts and readers of digital magazines.

The masthead credits the "technology & design" of the app to Appmotion GmbH, a mobile marketing firm from Hamburg. "Concept" is credited to Stefan Bodeit. The editor, at least of the English version, is Richard Melville.

Listen Music Magazine is a quite a contrast to the previous app. Sold under the name Steinway Musical Instruments, I assumed that this was a branded magazine for the manufacturer of world class pianos. But the classical music magazine is published by ArchivMusic LLC, a company that Steinway acquired in 2008. The magazine is designed, therefore, not to promote Steinway pianos by ArkivMusic's retail recording efforts.

With the demise of physical newsstands, finding this magazine becomes harder and harder, so a digital edition makes a tremendous amount of sense. But this app sort of makes no sense at all.

First of all, the app is a replica, and replicas and music simply should not go together. But the field is filled with replicas right now: Downbeat, Jazzwise, Gramophone and now Listen. That a publisher would not see the danger here is astounding. Guys, you are just begging for a digital start-up to put you under.

This particular digital edition comes from Texterity, which pushes flipbooks and now replica apps. The digital magazine costs $4.99 per issue, or $14.99 for an annual subscription. But the link provided in the app takes you directly to the flipbook where you can read the magazine for free. One hand doesn't seem to know what the other is doing.
While it is nice to be able to access new titles through the Newsstand, one wonders why publishers, especially publishers of music magazines, would want to launch a digital publication that contains no music.

But this isn't just a music magazine, it is one from a company that is also a seller of music. Why not create a real tablet edition, one that not only allows the reader to hear samples of the recordings, but also allows the reader to directly place an order?

I know I can't the only publisher out there that sees the possibilities, am I?