Switching operations to purely business-to-business

Focusing on the right customer base is important for businesses – and for Omnifone CEO Jeff Hughes, it was a case of B2B is best.

When Omnifone launched 10 years ago, it dually focussed on direct-to-consumer and business-to-business trade.

The consumer arm of the business operated under the name MusicStation, our cloud-music technology platform, which we used to service third parties that wanted to have their own branded service.

Omnifone made the bold decision to re-model the company as a pure business-to-business (B2B) provider. Direct-to-consumer digital music companies rely heavily on continuous funding in order to acquire paying subscribers one at a time. We felt there was a real opportunity to support these companies which had the capability to promote a music service and manage end-users, but not the ability to develop complex global music distribution and licensing.

Put simply, we thought there was a real opportunity to power these services rather than directly competing with them. The new B2B model allowed us to target a much wider audience and become nimble so that we can tailor our cloud-music platform according to the latest trends in the industry, taking into account our own ideas and those of our partners.

After heavily investing in our MusicStation platform to increase flexibility and further enrich it with next-generation functionality, we signed up and launched three digital music services within just 12 months. These included Sony’s Music Unlimited service, Blackberry’s BBM Music and rara.com.

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The decision to focus on the B2B market strengthened Omnifone’s financial muscle and in 2012 the company turned its first ever profit. Our profitability established us as the leader in the B2B digital music space and we have since acquired SiriusXM, one of the most successful music subscription services in the US, among others.

The decision to focus on commercial trade has meant we are not solely reliant on our own ability to acquire and manage end-users. User growth is important to our customers so we work together to help them attract paying subscribers and we also focus on investing in research and development. This enables us to maintain the level of flexibility required to adapt to our customer and market requirements.

It has also enabled us to expand into new markets and our platform is now available in 34 countries offering a growing catalogue of 24 million tracks.

Streaming music has finally reached the mainstream with everybody from Twitter to Apple looking to gain a share of the pie. As the markets grows, we are certain to grow with it.

Hunter Ruthven

Bernard Williamson

Hunter was the Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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