Mobile Backstage Raises $1.4M to Expand Fan Engagement Network

Having a presence in the App Store is a big priority for popular bands and artists these days, and most of the time, those bands aren’t programmers or developers themselves. Finnish startup Mobile Backstage is one of a number of companies offering artists mobile fan community engagement apps on a white-label basis, similar to U.S.-based Mobile Roadie and ShoutEm. Mobile Backstage thinks it has a markedly different approach to helping connect bands with fans, however, and a new $1.4 million investment from Finnerva, Miston and various angel investors should help it with its goals of expanding its reach.

Whereas other fan service app studios focus more narrowly on delivering apps for iPhone and Android devices, Mobile Backstage wants to help bands manage any social interaction channel where fans seek to engage with one another and directly with artists. That includes things like Facebook fan pages, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and more. Mobile Backstage co-founder and CEO Paavo Bäckman told BetaKit in an interview that because of its cross-platform approach, it can deliver much more valuable insights to its clients.

“The mobile app is only one part of our service. We will we add new services all the time, and focus more and more on being a total fan relationship and management tool, [helping artists] focus on how to better manage and utilize their fan base,” he said. “It’s a marketing tool for artists, but at the same time also a tool where you can gather a lot of information: concrete, person-specific information.”

Bäckman said that eventually, Mobile Republic’s goal is to provide places everywhere on the web where fans and artists meet that are custom-tailored to the artist themselves. He believes that in each case, fans should feel like they’re interacting directly with artists, not with an intermediary service, and that’s where Mobile Republic’s custom branding, coding and production come in. This feeling of a direct relationship should help bands get more meaningful insight from their online fan interactions.

And while Mobile Backstage currently focuses squarely on the music industry, Bäckman also said that the company intends to broaden its focus in the future, by offering its services to any companies and brands where fan interaction is an issue and makes sense to tackle. First, however, the startup will continue to focus on the music industry, via an expansion to new San Francisco offices in July (adding to its existing offices in New York, London and Helsinki) and more aggressive efforts at securing big name partners.

Mobile Backstage has some good early traction, including four million interactions and 100 million pageviews across its stable of apps, and some big-name talent among its roster of clients, including The Kooks, Jessie J and Lykke Li. But it’ll have to go head-to-head with other turnkey solutions like Mobile Roadie’s (which also emphasizes cross-platform solutions and analytics reporting), no easy task since those already have some heavyweight clients on board like Madonna, soccer-star Ronaldo and more. Bäckman said some high-profile partnerships are in the works, however, so prepare for Mobile Backstage to come out swinging.

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