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Monday, 28 January 2008 08:06

Sony Ericsson adds five million over-the-air download tracks

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Sony Ericsson is to develop its PlayNow ringtone download service, rebranding it as PlayNow arena and offering access to a greatly expanded range of content through deals with some of the largest international and regional music labels. It has also launched PlayNow Uncut, (formerly M-Buzz) as promotional channel for new, unsigned and developing artists.
The deals are with Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, EMI, The Orchard, IODA, The PocketGroup, Hungama, X5 Music, Bonnier Amigo and VidZone and will add five million tracks to the service. The company says it is negotiating further deals with a host of regional labels "to further broaden the variety of music available and bring a wealth of localised content direct to the consumer." Sony Ericsson has also added TrackID functionality which identifies songs and allows them to be downloaded directly to a phone or PC.

Sony Ericsson introduced PlayNow in February 2004 allowing cellphone users to pre-listen and then purchase polyphonic ringtones on their phones. It is available in 32 countries and now offers mastertones (MP3 ringtones), games, full music tracks, themes and wallpapers. However the new PlayNow arena service will not be immediately available in all these countries.

Sony Ericsson has also added 250 new games through existing deals with games manufactures including EA Games, Gameloft, THQ, Glu, Digital Chocolate and I-Play. The company claims that users of its phones download more games to their phones than users of any other mobile phone brand, according to M.metrics data for  European markets.

PlayNow Uncut is billed as a promotional space for breaking new and emerging artists via Sony Ericsson's product, content and marketing channels. It carries previously unreleased tracks, videos, artwork, interviews, tour dates and other artist information and is accessible from Sony Ericsson mobile phones or on the web at www.playnow-uncut.com .


Sony Ericsson says that the rebranding and alignment with PlayNow arena will open up new channel opportunities for artists and enable the site to target consumers worldwide, including for the first time the USA. The highest rated and most listened to tracks will be made available for sale in the music section of PlayNow arena.

Martin Blomkvist, head of content acquisition & management at Sony Ericsson, said: "we see PlayNow Uncut as the edgy version, whilst the PlayNow music section is more a case of familiarity, giving consumers something they know and are already comfortable with. Consumer experience is our absolute priority and we will continue to develop PlayNow arena as a service that appeals to all consumer segments and lifestyle trends."

The PlayNow arena will launch in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland in May 2008 with more European markets to come at the end of Q2 2008 and further expansion in Europe, Americas and Asia during Q3 and Q4. Sony Ericsson predicts that the PlayNow arena will be active in close to 30 markets by the end of 2008. It will be available at  www.playnow-arena.com .


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