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Wired – In Bloom: Spotify rival promises streaming Nirvana

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting

Bloom fm might be about to crack the streaming music sector, a market previously dominated by Spotify… I investigate for Wired UK:

Bloom-logo

“We were talking names around the table and we misheard someone who said ‘balloon’,” says Tum Nguyen, the co-founder and leading software engineer of music industry hot topic Bloom fm. “Of course he was joking,” adds Nguyen quickly, “but as soon we all heard ‘bloom’ we said that’s fantastic because even before we came up with a name my design brief to the team was: I want it to feel like I’m running around a field of flowers and picking up music”.

It is an amusing anecdote, but the haphazard way the music streaming service fell upon its name is the exception to the rule of an otherwise meticulously planned second coming. The reason is Nguyen and fellow Bloom fm co-founder Oleg Fomenko have been here before. The duo were behind mflow, a short-lived music download service which rewarded users with discounts for recommending artists, albums and tracks. It was first desktop- then browser-based, but closed in January 2012 with a mysterious message on the homepage: “Over the past few months we’ve been working on a top-secret new project… we can’t share this grown-up mflow with you until we’re confident it’s better than anything you’ve used before.” Early signs suggest it might be.

What Nguyen and Fomenko learnt was to change everything. The standard business model of desktop first, a premium for access on mobile, restricted streaming and a focus on self discovery was inverted. Bloom fm launched last month solely on iOS, it offers unrestricted streaming and focuses on automated discovery. If you login to Bloom fm with Facebook it aggregates what you list as your favourite bands and starts playing with a single tap on the homepage.

“It had to be mobile first,” Nguyen tells Wired.co.uk. “Soon everyone is going to be doing most of their computing through their phones. It became a principle of how we approached everything [and] because we focused on mobile first we were able to simplify the design a lot. We didn’t allow ourselves to get carried away adding a million context menus and a million options, but we managed to design an app that is fully functional without being in your face and not knowing which button to press.”

We are back to the name again. The happy accident of hearing “bloom” instead of “balloon” inspired a unique structure for navigation of the service akin to a sunflower with the genre or artist in the centre and the surrounding petals offering sub-genres or similar artists. Tap a petal and it is brought to the centre with a new array of surrounding petals, tap the centre and you begin playback. It is simple, organic and importantly it is fun to use. In fact it feels almost childishly innocent as you both discover artists and create bespoke radio stations in the same playful way. Yet this hides a hard and potentially revolutionary heart.

“We found only 12 percent [of people] have tried streaming on their mobile in the UK,” Fomenko tells Wired.co.uk. “We thought it was mainstream, but when the penetration of smartphones is approaching 80 percent you realise there is an unbelievable number of people out there who have not been reached for a variety of reasons. We believe those reasons are beauty, ease, not confronting people with a search bar when they enter the app and,” he pauses “…price.”

While beauty and ease will undoubtedly attract admirers, the harsh reality in a world long used to free illegal downloads and in the midst of an unrelenting global economic downturn is new players require compelling prices. £5 per month for desktop and £10 per month for desktop and mobile access has become a predictable norm, but Bloom fm breaks from this with a system it dubs “borrow, enjoy, return”. Unlimited, genre and artist based radio stations are free, but to “borrow” music (aka download it for offline access) prices start at £1 per month for 20 tracks that can be swapped at any time. £5 per month increases this limit to 200 tracks, £10 gives unlimited borrows plus full on-demand streaming of artists and albums.

“I chose Bloom as my digital service to watch in 2013 and the real unique thing is the £1 per month pricing tier,” says Paul Smernicki, director of digital at Universal Music UK. “There’s a massive underserved market of people who aren’t quite interested enough in music, people who are sitting on the fence about whether to use a licensed or unlicensed service and people who are considering moving away from physical purchases and a pound is cheap enough to tempt them all… The only way you can really experience the best of Spotify is a £10 subscription, that isn’t the case here.”

Fomenko takes this further saying in 2008 the average spend per person per year in the music industry was £60 and that figure has been falling ever since. “It would be closer to £50 now,” he argues “and we are looking at a migration onto mobile where the lowest price point is £120 per year. There is a lion’s share of users out there who will never spend that level of money so we need to start introducing tiered subscriptions that cater to different categories that will actually engage all those people who are bringing the average down.”

Nguyen confirms when Bloom fm launches on other platforms, including a web-based player for computers later in the year, prices will not increase for these additional points of access. “We believe we can carry on the current subscription model, the simplicity is paramount so we don’t want to complicate it.” He adds “It was vital to create a £1 entry point that is actually useful, when we pitched to labels that was the tier we gave their executives to try. People can afford it and as their music needs increase there is a natural progression.”

There is room for natural progression for Bloom fm too…

This is a sample, to read about the challenges still facing bloom and where executives believe the market is heading click the link to review the full feature on Wired UK

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Wired – Inside Intel’s battle to keep Stephen Hawking talking

August 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting

Over the weekend of 7-8 January I attended Stephen Hawking’s 70th Birthday Symposium held at Cambridge University. I learnt about science, the cosmos and the very human battle waged to keep one of our generation’s most important scientists in contact with the world. Here is my write-up of that battle for Wired UK.

 

Inside Intel’s battle to keep Stephen Hawking talking

11 January 12

“I was here in October and I plugged my phone in when I went to bed and when I woke up in the morning it was completely dead. It would not boot, would not charge, would not do anything and I suddenly had the realisation my whole life had collapsed into this little device.”

Justin Rattner could not have begun our conversation more aptly. Intel’s chief technology officer has been at the Mountain View, California company for nearly 40 years. He has two Intel Achievement Awards, stands on its Research and Academic Advisory Councils and has been named one of the 200 individuals currently having the greatest impact on the US computer industry. He also has a passion project: heading up the team that works tirelessly to evolve the technology that keeps Stephen Hawking communicating with the outside world.

“It got started about 15 years ago,” says Rattner, an endearing man with a broad, almost child-like, smile. “Stephen and Intel’s co-founder Gordon Moore were at a conference together and Gordon saw the machine Stephen was using had an AMD processor and he said something to the effect of ‘How would you like a real computer?’ and Stephen said ‘Fine, that would be great’. Gordon asked the UK team to get engaged with Stephen and his support folks and provide him with a new Intel-based machine and it has just carried on. As the technology has improved they have continued to upgrade his system.”

Hawking has motor neurone disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), caused by the degeneration of upper and lower neurons in the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their motor functions. He was diagnosed in 1963, shortly after his 21st birthday, and given just a few years to live. Fast-forward five decades and Rattner was in town because the renowned scientist was about to celebrate his 70th birthday and a symposium with friends, family, scholars and noted academics had been arranged by the University of Cambridge in his honour. As if to remind the world of his fragile condition Hawking ultimately missed the event due to ill health, but left arousing pre-recorded speech that looked back on his life, studies, illness and the importance of hope: “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet”.

This bout of illness will pass, but for Rattner the challenge of Hawking’s ALS will not. Continue reading

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Copywriting – TomTom 2012 B2B Brochures

August 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting

As in 2011 TomTom has allowed me to publish and promote my professional copyrighting. Typically this work is not published due to non-disclosure agreements.

The brief this year was to update all 11 of the company’s existing 2011 brochures with new product information, adjust the tone to be more direct and authoritative and modernise the layouts putting a greater emphasis on white space. Further customisation was also required for each industry sector and, given the complexity of the products and services at hand, it was crucial to make them concise and digestible. All targets were achieved in a maximum of 3 drafts per brochure and signed off 5 days ahead of schedule.

Below are links to download the brochures in PDF format and beneath them is a sample image in jpg format of ‘Maps & Enhanced Content’ – TomTom’s main B2B brochure which will enlarge when clicked. As with my feature writing, editorials and reviews, interested parties should contact me via any of the methods listed on my Contact page. You may also wish to view my LinkedIn profile which has extensive written recommendations and skill endorsements.

25-Jan-13 01-06-59

Click to enlarge

The Guardian – My Big Break in Journalism

April 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting

 

A rare deviation. This article is not written by me, rather I am a part of it giving career advice to aspiring journalists for an article in the Guardian.

My Big Break in Journalism: Writers Reveal their Routes into the Media

What does it take to get a journalism career started? A handful of high profile reporters tell Jack Oughton how they got their foot in the door, and offer advice for budding journalists

Keen to find out what the journalists and writers that I look up to did to get to where they are today, I devised a mini career questionnaire and sent a few tweets and emails to get some answers. I asked: what’s the one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring journalists? What was the most important thing you did for your career? And, what is good journalism to you? Here are some highlights from what they had to say.

[Cut to my section. I don’t have rights to republish in its entirety.]

Gordon Kelly is a writer and journalist specialising in technology, music and film. He works freelance as a features writer for TrustedReviews, the BBC and Wired, produces internal magazines for a number of major companies and teaches courses in media relations

“Remember the 5 Ws [who, what, where, when, why]. It is basic, but how you order information is fundamental to better writing. If I’m allowed a second: don’t be afraid to say you don’t understand. Journalists spend their time talking to specialists. Better to ask a question at the time than feel foolish in print later on.

At my first job my editor made me write nothing but NIBs (news in brief) for the first week. NIBs could be no shorter than 23 words and no longer than 27 words. The lesson was crucial: quickly identify what is and isn’t important and work out what is the heart of the story. Now being able to see the hook of a story, feature or editorial is arguably my biggest strength. To this day if I’m struggling with something I try to summarise it in 23 to 27 words.

[Good journalism is] stories that engage. Different industries and different titles will have a huge influence on what and how you can write, but from these boundaries I think it is important to convey to the reader: ‘this is why you should care’. From cats stuck in trees to front page news, if you don’t care about what you write, why should anyone else?”

Read the entire article here with further advice from the likes of Guardian Technology Editor Charles Arthur, renowned freelance journalist Elizabeth Pears, BGR executive editor Zach EpsteinTom Warren – Senior News Editor at The Verge and founder of WinRumors, Guardian Money editor Hilary Osborne and Dan Raywood, online news editor for SC Magazine.

 

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

BBC Future – Titanic Anniversary: The Myth of the Unsinkable Ship

April 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting

 

My debut feature for new BBC Worldwide site BBC Future.

Note: as part of BBC Worldwide, BBC Future is not available to available UK dwellers. You can use this ‘anonymouse’ link to view it.

The official link can be found here:
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120402-the-myth-of-the-unsinkable-ship

The full article can also be read below, click to enlarge each page. 

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Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

The Scotsman – Myths & Miracles of Social Media

April 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting

 

In the run up to Digital Scotland last month I produced two features for The Scotsman newspaper: ‘Myths and Miracles of Social Media’ and a ‘Smart Devices: Roundup’.

Many thanks to all the contributors involved in this.

Please find an image of the articles from the newspaper below and a PDF can be downloaded here. Questions, comments and further professional enquiries welcome.

Click to Enlarge

 

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Copywriting – SanDisk Channel Flash Magazines

August 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting

Following TomTom’s kind decision to allow me to reveal my copywriting for the company, SanDisk has proved that – much like buses – good things come in pairs. I regularly produce copy for the company’s Channel Flash industry magazine and occasionally write all editorial content. Find a sample below (click to enlarge) and downloadable features from the links below.

As always, if you are interesting in hiring me to produce copy for you click this link to my Contact page.

Copywriting – TomTom 2011 B2B Brochures

August 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting

As a freelance writer and journalist I do not often promote my copywriting skills due to non disclosure agreements. Kindly breaking this cycle is TomTom. I produce a great deal of the company’s b2b marketing material, from which you will see a sample brochure below (click to enlarge). Downloadable PDF links are posted here for additional samples.

Update: further new content added:

If you are interesting in hiring me to produce copy for you click this link to my Contact page.

 

Media Consultancy – Pitching to Journalists

March 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting

I should have posted this a lot earlier: an interview I conducted with RunMarketing in November last year.

Contacting journalists can be a daunting prospect if you’re new to approaching the media. However, building up strong relationships with the media is critical to overall marketing success and is a must for any business. To help understand how small businesses and start-ups can best approach the media, RunMarketing spoke to freelance journalist and blogger Gordon Kelly.

Click to listen to this episode (right click and save to download)

For more on writing press releases and pitching to media, visit RunMarketing’s Resources page.

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Media Consultancy – PRWeek: the relationship between PRs & Journalists

January 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting

What makes for a good relationship between PRs and journalists? I sit on the PRWeek sofa with Paul Borge, head of digital at Consolidated PR, to discuss this. Comments welcome.

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

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