As Nokia’s VP of Entertainment, Jyrki looks after Nokia Music and all entertainment services.
We checked in with him to find out more about where Nokia Mix Radio is going and what makes it so popular with the people who use it.
In a crowded streaming music arena, what makes Nokia Mix Radio special?
Quintessentially, Nokia Mix Radio is mobile first.
We created it to be the simplest, most personalised digital radio experience in the world. Specifically for Nokia Lumia smartphones, it takes full advantage of the Windows Phone operating system with a slick user experience. It’s free; there’s no advertising; no log-in is needed and users have access to thousands of curated and personalized Mixes.
And because not everyone has the luxury of a 100 per-cent reliable, low-cost 3G or 4G connection, the service is also optimized for lower bandwidth. You can download up to four Mixes (around six hours of music, on average) to be stored offline and listened to when you aren’t connected.
The service has a wider global reach than most of its rivals – operating in 28 territories across the globe, including the US, China, India and the UK. Because Nokia has global reach, we’ve been able to flourish in territories other services haven’t touched.
We measure usage levels and gauge feedback continually – there are actually live dashboards on the office walls showing this – and customers love it. Alongside our design, location and imaging strengths, it’s a really powerful reason to buy a Nokia Lumia.
How has the Nokia Music service evolved in recent months?
We keep improving Nokia Music with more tracks, new software releases, and behind-the-scenes tweaks, so it’s getting better and better all the time.
Recent updates have focused on personalisation. You can ‘favourite’ artists and you’ll receive notifications about new releases and nearby concerts from those artists. You can also create a Mix that’s generated from the artists you listen to on your phone. The team has also enhanced the Live Tile. Now it shows a collage of the artists you’ve listened to recently, and also notifications of any updates from your favourite artists.
We’ve also launched Nokia Mix Radio on Asha in Russia recently with excellent user feedback.
And, of course, we have created an inexpensive subscription version of the service, Nokia Music+, for those who want more: unlimited offline Mixes, higher bitrates, unlimited skips and lyrics, along with Web and desktop PC access to the service.
We’re also working with great brands such as Burton, Coke Studio and Vodafone on sponsored and exclusive Mixes. And in New York we’ve teamed up with Sony Music Entertainment to bring Webster Hall guests an innovative interactive music experience, using NFC technology.
Working with third parties continues to be a key focus area for us, particularly in enabling developers to use our music APIs.
How does Nokia Mix Radio compare to Microsoft’s Xbox Music service?
They are fundamentally different services for different customers by design, but the two complement each other perfectly. Nokia Mix Radio is a completely free mobile-optimized personal radio service with millions of happy users around the world discovering and enjoying great music every day.
With only a few taps, people can listen to their favourite artists within minutes of taking their Nokia Lumia out of the box, without the need to sign up or sign in- it’s a unique offering that we’re really proud of.
What do you think about the recently announced iTunes Radio service?
We welcome more entrants to the streaming music field. The more that streaming music becomes a regular thing people do with their phones, the more users we seem to gather.
Nokia Mix Radio has been available for a couple of years, with extremely positive reactions from customers and the press. It’s been tuned and evolved through experience and directly in response to customers over that period.
Our team of musicologists, based in Bristol, UK and with contributors around the world, have had that time to understand exactly what works and have hand-crafted thousands of curated Mixes that appeal to every taste, geography and mood. That’s no small thing, and it can’t be done well with computers and algorithms alone.
On the technology side, perhaps crucially, while you can easily stream music using Nokia Mix Radio, it’s also possible to store up to four complete ‘Mixes’ (collections of tracks) offline, so it still works when you’re underground or miles away from any mobile phone masts, or if your data contract limits how much you want to download away from WiFi.
We also understand that Nokia Music is collaborating with HERE in the ‘connected cars’ initiative?
Indeed. We started with mobile, but have already expanded Nokia Music access to a Windows 8 app for tablets, plus other connected screens like the desktop or even smart TV’s through a web based player. Our aim is to let Nokia Music provide the soundtrack to your life, wherever you are, whether that’s at work, home or even on the road.
Music is a valuable addition to the entertainment side of navigation and location services offered as HERE Auto. Entertainment is a key part of what people want from their in-car dashboard. Nokia Mix Radio is a great alternative to conventional radio in the car: the ability to skip tracks and have automatic personalization of playlists is a great attraction for drivers.
You want to keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road when you’re driving. Nokia Mix Radio can provide you with the perfect personalized music experience for the journey ahead.
We’ve been demonstrating how the service works in-car alongside our HERE colleagues at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week.
Finally, in light of last week’s announcement about Microsoft’s plans to acquire Nokia’s Devices and Services business, what does that mean for Nokia Music?
For now, nothing will change. Like we have done ever since Nokia Music was launched back in 2011, we will continue adding great new features to Nokia Music and provide the best mixes, curated by our acclaimed team of Bristol musicologists.
There’s plenty more news in the pipeline, so look out for it here on Conversations.