Warner Music Group job ad reveals initial details of its ‘superfan app’



Finding the best way to monetize music superfans has become the Holy Grail of the music industry over the past few years.

The data is clear: There are billions to be made by capitalizing on that segment of the music audience that’s willing to pay extra for increased access to their favorite artists, advance releases of new music, exclusive merch and more.

To that end, we’ve seen seemingly no end of new platforms being born and financed with the idea of creating a direct link between artists and their hardest-core fans, from Fave (which counts Sony Music and Warner Music Group as investors) to EVEN to Tune.fm.

Meanwhile, the music streamers working on their own plans, with Spotify reportedly working on “superfan clubs” for its platform.

Recording companies want in on the action too. Earlier this year, Warner Music Group (WMG) CEO Robert Kyncl announced the company is working on its own “superfan app.”

And now, we can see that this was no idle chatter. WMG is hiring a Senior Product Designer to work specifically on WMG’s superfan technology.

That’s according to an ad spotted by MBW, which declares that Warner is “building a platform for connecting artists with their biggest fans and it is a top priority even for our CEO!”

From the ad, and from a LinkedIn post about the ad from WMG’s VP of Product Design, Christina Goldschmidt, we can glean a few bits of information about the preliminary shape of Warner’s new superfan platform.

For one, it appears to be a mobile-first product, with Goldschmidt noting that WMG is looking for someone who’s experienced in “iOS and/or Android native mobile design.”

Secondly, despite Kyncl referring to it as a “superfan app,” it might prove to be multiple apps, potentially embedded within a single platform, or available separately. The ad notes that the job involves “lead[ing] the design of our direct artist-superfan products [note the plural] and “creating apps [plural again] that are not only functional but also delightful to use.”

The job, which would be within WMG’s User Experience Team, comes with a salary range of USD $130,000-$170,000, and – according to Goldschmidt – WMG is open to this person working remotely in the US.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there are some doubts about WMG’s approach to the superfan Holy Grail. That’s because recording companies are the “wholesalers” of music, and streaming platforms are the “retailers” – the ones with a direct relationship with fans.

Unlike the startup direct-to-consumer platforms mentioned above, or Spotify’s (alleged) efforts at superfan clubs, WMG’s superfan app would be (presumably) exclusively for WMG-signed artists.

Since music fans don’t listen to music according to the labels that artists are signed to, this would mean WMG’s platform would feature a “random” selection of artists, at least from the point of view of consumers. From this perspective, a superfan experience designed by a streaming service or an open-to-every-artist platform would make more sense.

Yet if Warner is first to market – among the major recording companies –  with a superfan platform, and that platform proves successful, it may be in a strong position to sign partnerships with other recording companies that bring in artists from outside WMG.

“One of the most important things is to figure out a direct relationship with the most valuable fans, because it’s not only important to monetization and new revenue streams, but it’s also important to launching new music, which is the core of what we do.”

Robert Kyncl, Warner Music Group

For an example of what that might look like, we can look to what South Korea’s HYBE has done with its successful Weverse platform, signing partnerships with both rival K-pop company SM Entertainment and with Universal Music Group, which give artists signed to those companies access to the platform.

And Kyncl himself has offered a rationale for why he believes the recording companies – and not streaming platforms – are the best-placed businesses build superfan apps.

“If every distribution platform creates products for superfans, it’s very hard for artists to adopt it, because then they have to optimize for that one platform,” Kyncl said at the Morgan Stanley Media & Telecom Conference in March.

“That’s not what they want to do. They want to be across everything. And so I think, organically and structurally, we’re in a better position to do something like this than any… large distribution platform today.”

Kyncl added: “One of the most important things is to figure out a direct relationship with the most valuable fans, because it’s not only important to monetization and new revenue streams, but it’s also important to launching new music, which is the core of what we do.

“And when you do that, you don’t want to compete with large platforms of 2 billion users. I want to focus on a much more condensed set of users, the ones that matter the most… For large platforms, that’s a subscale activity, subscale behavior. For us, we can do that.”

Is Kyncl’s theory right? Judging by WMG’s job ad, the company is about to put this idea to the test.Music Business Worldwide


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