Thumbplay News


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thumbplay Supports Adobe "Strobe"

Today, Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ: ADBE) announced the global media companies, content delivery networks (CDNs), publishers and advertising networks which are embracing Adobe’s open framework for building custom media players – Thumbplay among them. Code-named “Strobe”, the new framework will help establish an industry standard for media players and offers production-ready components to streamline the development process, reducing the time content publishers spend creating playback technologies. Click HERE to see the Adobe announcement.

Remarked Thumbplay’s Chris Phenner (EVP, Business Development):

“Thumbplay relies on the Flash Platform™ for our web site’s audio and video samples, for widgets that Thumbplay OPEN provides to artists to sell mobile content, and for the Flash Lite titles we sell – Thumbplay is living the Open Screen Project’s strategy every day. Strobe is a great framework that we plan to leverage to help sites monetize and extend their embedded video players to include mobile features.”

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A New Service Extends the Reach Of A Faltering Mobile Music Format
By Anthony Bruno for BILLBOARD
May 11, 2009

Ringtone Sales are dropping sharply but record labels and mobile content providers are doing everything they can to shore up sales.

Several mobile carriers have begun offering a make-your-own-ringtone service from provider mSpot. Labels like Warner Music Group have explored bundling ringtones with full-song download sales. And services like Myxer have even tried ad-supported ringtones.

Now, The mobile content provider Thumbplay has quietly unveiled a new service called OPEN Pro that allows labels to sell ringtones almost anywhere online without striking deals with each wireless operator. OPEN Pro is an extension of a tool Thumbplay launched in September that allows unsigned artists to sell ringtones by uploading their content to the Thumbplay system.

“It helps labels and artists’ managers sell mobile content from the Web sites they manage,” says Thumbplay director of business development Mike Park. “It’s basically a way for them to keep track of sales for all their labels, drill down into specific artists and track performance.”

Even when ringtone sales were still growing, the format faced two key distribution bottlenecks. The vast majority of sales came through mobile operators, which maintain complete control over which artists get prime placement on their crowded mobile entertainment menus. That inevitably leads to a focus on chart-topping artists, at the expense of others.

Bypassing the carriers and selling directly to fans brought its own set of challenges, most important of which was that ringtones have to be formatted for each mobile handset and mobile network.

Thumbplay is breaking through these logjams. It has agreements to deliver ringtones to each mobile operator and has the ability to determine the proper format based on the user’s phone. It also has partnerships with music sites like AOL, MTV, Clear Channel Online, MSN and iLike, so that tracks listed on these sites carry a “buy ringtone” link from Thumbplay.

The new OPEN system allows labels to add that same buy link to any service that doesn’t already have a deal with Thumbplay, including the artist’s own Web site, Twitter and MySpace Page. It also includes a widget creation tool that gives fans the ability to sell their favorite artist’s ringtones from their own blogs and social-networking profiles. Labels can use the OPEN content management and data reporting systems to track ringtone sales across a variety of sites. Thumbplay hopes to add mobile full-track downloads to the OPEN Pro program in a few months.

Thumbplay takes a cut of each sale. And while it sells a la carte ringtones, its primary business model is signing up fans to a monthly $10 subscription plan through which users get credits that can be redeemed for ringtones, games and other mobile content. Labels get the same amount per ringtone whether it’s sold a la carte or downloaded through a subscription.

To enlist the help of labels in growing its subscriber base, the OPEN Pro service pays labels a bounty for each new Thumbplay subscriber acquired through their artists’ widgets.

A&M/Octone tested the service late last year with a campaign for Hollywood Undead. Ringtones for developing artists usually get little attention on carrier-controlled ringtone menus, so Rome Thomas, head of sales and artist development at the label, was looking for a “back door” of sorts to the mobile market. Using Thumbplay’s widget to drive sales from the artist’s site, as well as other social network outlets, was exactly what he needed.

“Thumbplay gives me the opportunity to make an amount of mobile revenue via all of our Web surfaces,” he says. “I’m always looking at how to be more competitive on the mobile side.”

As a result, the campaign saw an 8% conversion rate of those clicking through to the “buy ringtone” link and completing a purchase, about four times the average.

But Thomas says the bounty for new subscribers has proved to be the more interesting opportunity.

“The bounty income was more compelling than the per-unit sales of an a la carte product,” he says. “We’re making a significant, very high dollar amount per acquisition, and we’re also being paid on the back end for each piece of content sold. This affiliate fee was higher than any other affiliate fee that I’ve ever seen from any of our online retailers.”

To date, ringtone sales have focused on mining more revenue out of radio hits. If programs like Thumbplay take off, the faltering format my find some relief in the long tail.


NEW YORK - MAY 11, 2009 - Thumbplay, the #1 mobile entertainment destination in the U.S., today launched Thumbplay OPEN Pro (, a first-of-its-kind online marketing tool that makes it effortless for music labels, artist managers and media companies to sell their digital content to millions of mobile customers. By using the tools within the Thumbplay OPEN Pro service, which are free and available for the first time anywhere, content owners have access to more than 230 million mobile customers in the U.S.

From just one interface, users can now manage online and mobile marketing campaigns for multiple artists across multiple websites and they have access to detailed traffic and sales reporting. Moreover, within Thumbplay’s OPEN Pro service, the company has introduced the new Widgetron™ widget maker, an automated tool that allows users to create widgets with custom sizes, colors and playlists with a click of a button. Content owners generate income two ways: content sales and customer referrals.

Thumbplay built OPEN Pro in collaboration with several of its partners to ensure that the service addressed their needs. In particular, Universal’s A&M/Octone Records beta-tested the Widgetron for the Hollywood Undead release “Swan Songs,” which has famously built much of its considerable steam online.

Rome Thomas, Head of Sales & Artist Development for A&M/Octone said: "Wherever a Hollywood Undead fan exists online, we’re there with a number of promotional and commercial offers for the band's growing worldwide community. Thumbplay's OPEN Pro customized widget has given us a channel to better merchandise Hollywood Undead mobile, creating sizeable revenue and adapting our strategy for a number of other A&M/Octone artist mobile campaigns."

Added Are Traasdahl, CEO and Founder of Thumbplay: “With Thumbplay OPEN Pro, we’ve taken Thumbplay’s greatest expertise -- reaching hundreds of millions of mobile customers who are hungry for great entertainment -- and we’ve put it in the hands of every marketing team out there. It is not only extremely easy to use; it saves time, generates money, and ensures that fans have broad and instant access to the content they love. It’s the ultimate Thumbplay win-win.”
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Page Two of Two: Thumbplay OPEN Pro Launched

Thumbplay OPEN Pro features include:

Dynamic Landing Pages – Add purchase links to websites, emails, Twitter and social profiles in less than five minutes. Create customized pages for every band and every song.
Widgetron™ Widget Maker – Create and manage multiple widgets from a single dashboard; customize playlists, colors, sizes and purchase options, including a-la-carte.
Thumbplay API – Build custom, rich experiences into websites and mobile apps.
Reporting Console – Track and compare every click on purchase links, widgets and campaigns with detailed, daily reports.

Featuring music, videos, games and more, Thumbplay’s extensive and ever-growing entertainment library is accessible on more than 2,500 mobile phones among every major carrier in the U.S., reaching more than 230 million U.S. wireless subscribers. The company has maintained and grown its leadership position by delivering an optimal user experience, which includes its live, “24/7/365,” customer service and an unparalleled catalog of mobile entertainment options. Each month, gets more than five million unique visitors and its mobile (WAP) site ( receives more than 12 million page views, making it one of the most popular mobile Web sites.

Thumbplay’s award-winning, direct-to-consumer service features licensed content from some of the world’s largest entertainment companies, including EMI Music, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Pictures Television, as well as several independent labels and artists and video game companies. Thumbplay’s mobile entertainment catalog is integrated into Clear Channel Radio, AOL and MSN Mobile sites, as well as, one of the Web’s leading social music discovery services. Moreover, based on Thumbplay’s reputation for exceptional customer care and technological innovation, MTV recently tapped the company to power personalization content for the music giant’s mobile content site. The recently-launched Thumbplay OPEN provides artists, music labels, developers and Web site publishers the tools to package and sell their own digital media to millions of mobile customers. Each month, gets more than five million unique visitors and its mobile (WAP) site ( receives more than 12 million page views, making it one of the most popular mobile Web sites.

Headquartered in New York City, Thumbplay was founded in September 2004 by Are Traasdahl and Evan Schwartz. It is backed by Bain Capital Ventures, SoftBank Capital, i-Hatch Ventures, Redwood Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Meritech, Brookside Capital Partners and Cross Creek Capital. More information can be found at or at from a mobile phone.

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