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Interview with Lenn Pryor

Lenn Pryor: VP Product, Nokia Music at Nokia, Vice President Product Marketing, Software and Services at Nokia

Artem Lutfullin: Comes with Music is scheduled to go live in Russia in November, however in a certain sense it'll be thrust upon consumers, as they will be unable to get phones without it. How Nokia are planning to deal with this situation?

Lenn Pryor: We think there is a lot a value in brining a new set of services and experience to the consumer with only a bit extra cost; so in many ways it's a great way to discover digital music in a market like Russia which does not have a strong digital music infrastructure today, outside of piracy. So we hope it'll introduce a lot of users to digital music. The fact that it's included into the cost of a device should hopefully make people happy and not upset about that from this perspective. But I think a really powerful opportunity for us is that together we can help consumers see how easy it can be to acquire music, download and manage it with a mobile phone or PC and to do that legally, with high quality album art, easy transfer from PC or to a device, direct downloads and other privileges. So with this service we are hoping to change the perception of how digital music is done today in Russia.

AL: Will consumers be allowed to enable Comes with Music service for the phones they already own?

LP: Not at this time. Right now Comes with Music is sold as an extra together with a device and we don't have the ability to sell it as a separate service. So it's a joint proposition that only comes with a device.

AL: Will Nokia offer high-bitrate recordings, as well as a wide variety of formats apart from WMA?

LP: Today the only format supported by Comes with Music is Windows Media Audio (WMA), and it's encoded in 196 kbps bitrate, so it's a very high-quality product for a digital download service like Comes with Music, in fact it's much higher compared to other digital services out there. But today because our service is tied by certain DRM restrictions we can't really apply DRM protection mechanisms to MP3, OGG or FLAC. So it works only with Miscroft DRM system today.

AL: Will users face any limitations regarding the number of downloaded tracks?

LP: No, it's unlimited subscription - you can download as much music as you like, and if you want to keep it on one media card or two media cards, or you download it to a PC, that's fine. Basically, the idea is that you download the music and then you keep it, even after your music subscription is done.

AL: If the user decides to change his or her phone, will it be possible to transfer all the music to a new device?

LP: Comes with Music does allow you to change devices. If you are an active subscriber and suddenly decide to buy a different Nokia-branded mobile phone, you can use your subscription with it too, provided that it's compatible with Comes with Music (it doesn't have to come bundled with it, though). Say, you bought the X6 and now you want N97 mini - we have no problem with that. You can change your phone model in your profile by contacting our customer care, so that they'll take the IMEI number of the new phone and change it, allowing that phone to work with our DRM protection, and that'll be it.

AL: Will Nokia extend the reach of Comes with Music to non music focused phones some time in the future?

LP: Today we support 12 different devices, and while in Russia the operators offer a range of the X6 and 5230, in other markets the portfolio is considerably wider: some operators have picked other devices and included them into this program, even the N95 8Gb, as well as models in other form-factors and from other ranges. I hope, maybe one day we'll see the Eseries in this pool as well, but the today this line-up has a focus on business and messaging rather than anything else.

AL: In some regions it's quite difficult to download multimedia content over WiFi, so, in light of this fact, does Comes With Music offer any other way of acquiring music?

LP: With Comes with Music you can access our database in two different ways today: through the store built into the device, and basically this application comes pre-installed, allowing the user to browse all 6 million songs and download them straight into the device. Now, if you have a 3G connection or WiFi, you'll have a better experience for sure. But as we know many music aficionados prefer to download music in bulk, so they use their PCs for these purposes. And for these people we have a PC client, for managing the music library, downloading music, creating playlists - everything is fully built from there, and if you go to NokiaMusic.com you can actually see the software online and what it looks like. But it's just like Windows Media Player or iTunes - full-fledged music management software.

AL: What subscription packages do you offer right now? How will consumers be able to extend their subscriptions?

LP: I'm not sure for Russia actually, we'll have to ask our local team, because each operator chooses different packages, although the minimum subscription term is 1 year. We've never seen anyone ask for less than 12 months, but some operators even go for as many as 24 months. You can renew it at the end of that time period two ways: credit card, if you didn't buy you phone from an operator, or through your operator's billing system. And you can buy more subscription time in 1 or 3 month increments.

AL: Will Nokia's music service feature any social network elements, or its sole purpose is to serve as a window to your vast music library?

LP: The service we'll be launching in Russia will feature our new version of Nokia Music Store, which will be branded as OVI Music, and it'll look slightly different, featuring several improvements, such as the ability to create and share playlists with your friends, allowing other Comes With Music users to download your favorite tracks with a single button click. And over the next year we will add more social features, like a social music profile, we'll also be adding support for streaming music and other things as well. So Comes with Music is not only about downloading music, it's really about how you access and experience music. We talked about OVI Music a lot at the last summit, and how Connecting People is in the middle of it, so we will definitely present some new functionality in the future.

AL: Say, I downloaded some music using Nokia's Comes With Music service, but then deleted it. What should I do if I want to listen to it again?

LP: You can download these tracks as often as you need to - we have a feature called The Vault, which is the place where all your music records are stored, so you can re-download it.

AL: How Nokia is dealing with local recording labels and artists?

LP: One thing that is very unique about Comes With Music is that we focus so much on our local music catalogues. In fact for every country we do business in, we put together a team of at least 3 people whose sole task is to build relationships with local recording labels and optimize local catalogues. In fact, we know that 35% of the music people download through our service is specific to their country. That's why, for example, in Russia you'll have all the local hits, chart coverage, regional music, different styles and so on - we'll offer a really wide array of local music here. You can see how much time we spend on these preparations from our Indian Comes with Music branch - there we offered 6 different genres of Indian music in 6 different languages of UI.

AL: Thank you for your time.

LP: Thank you.

Artem Lutfullion (artem.lutfullin@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Oleg Kononosov (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com)

Published — 13 September 2009

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