Consumers craving for instantly accessible online music will shape the rapidly growing market and ultimately decide the best delivery model, according to BigPond’s managing director Justin Milne.
“The market is still in its very early stages,” Milne said. “There are lots of models and many players. Some will work and some won’t but we are an Australian store and not a clone of another model.”
Milne compared the variety of online music venturers – including players such as Wal-Mart in the US – to ISP boom of the late nineties.
“In 98 and 99 a number of large brands saw the ISP market as easy to enter but people looked at brand credibility,” he said. “In music there are lots of brands that think they can enter the market just as easily. The market will tell us that but we don’t predict the demise of our model.”
Milne said people will “vote with their feet” and decide which model works best.
“People will chose BigPond because of its price, billing convenience and trusted brand,” he said. “Also, people will chose Apple because of the association with the hardware. It’s hard to see how Apple has much to do here.”
Since it’s launch last month, Milne described business as “doing very well”.
“BigPond Music is significantly exceeding expectations and people aren’t just buying the top 10 songs,” he said. “Online music plays well for big labels and the independents. This can be a big market for them and we intend to promote the independent labels.”
So far BigPond’s marketing efforts for its music download service have centred on radio and online advertising but Milne is adamant there is more to come.
“We intend to support BigPond Music with marketing,” he said. “Nobody really knows the size of the Australian market but we will have a better idea in a year or so. The online music market still needs to get over the novelty factor.”
According to Milne, the move to providing online music was a “natural progression” for BigPond which is no stranger to content.
“BigPond has been an active content provider and over the last year we have strengthened this,” he said. “A music site is halfway between an application which is the file, and the content which is the music entertainment.”
Regarding possible competition between BigPond third-party content providers looking to use Telstra’s network, Milne quickly dismissed any conflict of interest.
“The content world hasn’t been damaged by players such as ninemsn providing it. It helps the wheels go around,” he said. “Content is an important part of the online mix for our customers. The multimedia industry is like the film industry and we are like a cinema. If you come, you see. If you don’t come, you don’t see.”