Verizon Wireless Provides SXSW Concert Footage, Enhances Music Offerings

Aiming to target the indie music community and bolster its V CAST music content selection, Verizon Wireless is providing concert footage from this week’s South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin, and expanding relationships with independent music distributors. The effort serves as a branding strategy intended to set apart the firm’s V CAST Music service, launched in January, as a wireless provider of hip content to attract the almighty teenage-to-30-something contingent.

“At a high level, we’re looking to partner with other companies and other organizations that are reaching deeper into the younger demographic than Verizon Wireless might [through its phone services alone],” commented Jeffrey Nelson, executive director of corporate communications at Verizon Wireless.

Verizon made clips of live shows from The Rakes, We Are Scientists, Morningwood and others available to its mobile video subscribers starting last night, in part to call attention to new and expanded relationships with independent music distributors The Orchard, CDBaby, Digital Rights Agency (DRA) and Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA). Verizon Wireless subscribers can also submit their phone numbers to “Catch the SXSW buzz” by receiving music clips and band alerts through the service.

Like many of its mobile services competitors, Verizon has been augmenting its music content offerings. “We’re in a place where it’s an important battleground for the hearts and minds of younger cell phone users,” observed Nelson.

Verizon is running a multimedia marketing campaign to promote V CAST phones and services; yet, the push behind the new music content is more of a gentle tap on the shoulder. Nelson categorized the marketing strategy as, “word of mouth and discovery.” Indeed, the company wants to build its song library to one million tunes, and needs to ensure critical mass in adoption of its V CAST handsets before it puts a full-fledged campaign behind its music product.

In another appeal to the underground sounds set, the firm has paired up with MySpace, offering contenders in the site’s “Calling All Bands” contest the chance to have their song, video, ring tone and ring back tone released on Verizon Wireless. The winner, pared down yesterday from an original pool of 4,300 contestants, is to be announced on MySpace on March 29. Among the 15 semifinalists are Latin hip hop act, Berto Ramon, and country artists, Jim Van “No Fleet Way” and the Reign.

In addition to Verizon, Cingular is listed on indie music provider The Orchard’s Web site along with dozens of other mobile distributors of its content, including T-Mobile and Sprint. Also on the mobile music bandwagon is Sony Ericsson, which now offers a Walkman phone enabling music downloads, streams, storage, and play back.

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