From today O2’s music fans can discover and learn more about some of the UK’s new acts, thanks to a new grass roots music initiative from O2 and long standing partner Columbia Label Group, part of SonyBMG UK. With 16 million customers in the UK and a strong existing music proposition, The Upper Room, SonyBMG’s 2006 priority act will be taking advantage of O2’s powerful marketing channel in the hope to get to the top of the charts when their new album is released in August 2006. The Upper Room are a four piece band from Brighton led by Alex Miller, who will allow O2 music fans to make up their own mind about the band by previewing their music via O2 Active. And for those that want to become committed fans before anyone else, a range of information, mobile content and the opportunity to interact directly with the band will also be available exclusively on O2 Active O2’s mobile entertainment portal and i-mode® directly from the SonyBMG site. Artwork for the fans, by the fans The Upper Room are inviting fans to have an input into their album cover. O2 will be running a questionnaire via O2 active asking fans to provide insight into their daily lives – by email or text. This information will then be used as data in the creative for the album artwork. Grahame Riddell, Head of Content Marketing for O2, comments: “O2 has demonstrated a commitment to music at all levels in the past three years, from major sponsorships such as the O2 Wireless Festival to bespoke and innovative services such as this tie-up with The Upper Room. Through this partnership with SonyBMG, O2 is enabling music fans to discover and establish a direct relationship with one of the UK’s hottest new bands, and support them from the beginning through content and events at a grass roots level. In return, the band will benefit from a potential audience of 16m O2 customers who could become their most ardent supporters throughout the development of their career”. Steve Warby, Marketing Manager at Columbia Label Group comments: “In recent years, the power of the internet to bring music fans into direct contact with their favourite bands, and build fan bases for new acts has become increasingly important. We recognize that mobile offers an innovative and important way to promote new music, and that this partnership with O2 and The Upper Room offers exciting potential for music fans and the industry alike.” According to the JupiterResearch report ‘Mobile Music: Identifying Opportunities in a Nascent Market’ mobile music is a nascent market but is improving rapidly, and will continue to be driven strongly by adoption of 3G music phones. Western European mobile music revenues will reach €518 million by 2010. The market’s growth will soar after the critical mass of music-enabled mobile phone owners has been attained. O2 has been heavily involved in the music arena for the last three years. In 2003, O2 launched the first ‘over the air’ music download service that let customers search, preview, download and play the latest tracks direct to their mobile phone. In 2005 O2 Music sponsored a range of live music events such as Capital FM’s party in the Park, O2 Music Wireless Festival and the NME O2 Rock N Roll Riot Tour with the Kaiser Chiefs. The Upper Rooms content includes the following: · Ringtones (Master and Poly Tone) – O2 customers can buy ringtones of acoustic recordings and selected singles from the album before anyone else · Wallpapers – customers can personalize their phones with The Upper Room logo, images of the band and exclusive images from their live performances and “on tour” snaps · Video Downloads – videos of The Upper Room singles will be available to O2 customers first and fans can watch interviews with the band · Audio Downloads – all tracks from their forthcoming album will be available to download and O2 customers will be able to get exclusive live recordings of selected tracks · The Upper Room Live – exclusive live recordings and footage from monthly acoustic sessions will be available for download · Community – Using O2’s chat forums, the band will stage live chat sessions with fans and will offer fans the chance to win tickets to gigs and signed merchandise In 2005 O2 also announced that it has joined forces with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), one of the world’s leading providers of live entertainment, sport events and facilities, to help transform the former Millennium Dome and the surrounding area into the UK’s most exciting and technically advanced music, sport and entertainment destination. The new venue, known as “The O2”, will launch in 2007. · Community – Using O2’s chat forums, the band will stage live chat sessions with fans and will offer fans the chance to win tickets to gigs and signed merchandise In 2005 O2 also announced that it has joined forces with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), one of the world’s leading providers of live entertainment, sport events and facilities, to help transform the former Millennium Dome and the surrounding area into the UK’s most exciting and technically advanced music, sport and entertainment destination. The new venue, known as “The O2”, will launch in 2007.