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Innovative ideas hatching from Sony's incubator

In-house entrepreneur program gets workers to think outside the box

Sony's Project Reviewn allows users to purchase recordings of live performances on the same day as the show.

TOKYO -- Sony is accelerating the pace of new project launches, drawing on in-house talent to develop not just another cool digital gadget but also online services.

On a mid-January day at Osaka Castle Hall in western Japan, some 10,000 people swooned at Animax Musix 2017 Osaka, a concert dedicated entirely to fans of anime songs. It was the first time the event came to the hall. Concertgoers went crazy as they watched some 20 artists sing popular anime songs.

Outside the venue, there was a different kind of excitement. "I can't wait to go home and watch it," said one of the many people who gathered in the area. They were the first to experience Project Reviewn, Sony's new music download service.

The service allows people who visit a concert site, if not the event itself, to purchase the right to download recordings of the day's live performances and other related content onto their smartphones and other devices. "People can take home and enjoy the excitement and emotions they felt at the site," said Yasunori Aoki of Sony's new business creation department who developed the service.

At Animax Musix in Osaka, organized by Sony's anime broadcaster Animax Broadcast Japan, songs were sold for 500 yen ($4.38) each on Project Reviewn. The app was downloaded about 600 times that day, Sony said. "We also hope to offer artists' backstage footage among other content," Animax President Masao Takiyama said.

Run with it

Project Reviewn was born out of Sony Seed Acceleration Program, an in-house venture promotion that began in April 2014. Employees pitch ideas to a group of both in-house and outside experts. Winning bids receive funding and human resources from the company. Project Reviewn is the eighth project that has been commercialized and is the first non hardware invention.

Aoki, 38, joined Sony in 2003. He has since been working as a wireless circuit designer, developing things like smartphone tuners. About a year ago, he began thinking about how consumers actually use the products he creates and wanted to tap into their feedback directly, Aoki said. 

The idea for Project Reviewn came from a colleague, who happened to be a pop idol fan. Aoki's colleague said, "I go to concerts but don't buy DVDs [of the same live performances] because by the time they are released, I'm off to another concert." Aoki realized that immediacy was the key to tapping into these consumers. 

Aoki first thought about fans who are unable to get tickets but still go to the venue. "Even after they have failed to get tickets by lottery, some still visit the site just to buy goods to support the artist," he said. "These people must be enthusiastic fans."

For event organizers, the service is a convenient way to maximize on-site sales and eliminate excess inventory, especially for little-known artists. 

"We chose Animax [where artists from various labels perform] as the first occasion to introduce the service because we wanted to send a message that this is not just for Sony Music Entertainment," Aoki said. Sony plans to introduce the service at sporting events, theaters and music events outside the Sony Music Entertainment(Japan) sphere. 

(Nikkei)

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