What The Future Of Music Discovery Looks Like

Bopler Games

When MXP4 launched in 2007, it was an ambitious startup with a format-based plan to drive the future of the music industry. This month, MXP4 launched BOPLER GAMES, the first social music game app for Facebook, which now has over 650 million users.

The transition is a great example of how any company can pay attention to their wins and losses, gauge their strengths and weaknesses and respond to people’s needs and wants to turn #failure to #success.

When I joined in 2009, the company had some great audio technology, a few patents, patient investors, a talented R&D team and a great vision of an interactive future for music. While some articles even positioned MXP4 as the “MP3 killer,” MXP4 had no product – hence no artist adoption. It was great, but useless, technology.

A lot has happened since 2007. Music fans today are looking for easy and permanent access to their preferred music, great discovery tools, and above all, a truly interactive experience in a social environment. We’ve seen the rise of location-based services and gaming and the amazing success of apps like Foursquare as users continue to seek competition and social interaction. We believe music can learn a lot from those successes, and MXP4 has evolved to help.

Our debut online interactive music experiences saw great artist adoption and engagement metrics indicating a promising future. Our interactive mixing modules were implemented by over 150 top artists such as David Guetta, Michael Jackson, Black Kent, The Grouch and Eligh and La Roux. Users spent an average of 15 minutes per session, and more than 50% of traffic came from fans sharing their experience with other fans. We also started partnering with leading brands such as Coca Cola, Diesel Music, and Air France to power interactive music ads, and we signed framework agreements with Last.fm/CBS Interactive. We also achieved great results with the first interactive music ad units featured on Spotify.  While this showed more promise for the future, our successes were still not scalable enough, at least on the short term.

When we started embedding these modules on artist fan pages on Facebook in June 2010, we realised this was a unique opportunity to accelerate growth for MXP4. We developed a new patented technology called ALD (Automatic Level Design), which allows us to transform any music into an interactive music gaming experience inspired by classic arcade games. We then successfully tested the first game called PUMP IT!, which quickly garnered up to 1.3M monthly active users on Facebook across 20 major artist pages including David Guetta, Enrique Iglesias, Tiesto, Cheryl Cole, Nelly Furtado, Adam Lambert, The Scorpions and Duran Duran with a total of 65M Facebook fans. Again, these are super positive results that show the monetization opportunities were there, but again, they were not scalable enough.

Meanwhile, social gaming revenues are expected to grow to $5 billion by 2015 (Source: Parks Associates, “Social Games: Market Updates,” April 2011). According to our research, 1/3 of Facebook users play games on a monthly basis and 12%  of them would pay extra to have access to their favourite artists’ latest tracks in interactive music games. Music-related fan pages are getting enormous traffic (RootMusic alone has 17m monthly active users on Facebook), yet music gaming is an untapped category on Facebook. Transitioning MXP4 to a B2C focus as the first social music game company was the obvious next step.

For the first time, Bopler games gives music fans the ability to play music games (4 at launch, 12 by end of June) using their selection of music from a catalogue of songs licensed from major labels and publishers, share their experience and compete with friends in a social environment. We are also convinced that such a service may trigger new opportunities for music discovery.