Sound News: Crowdsourcing Nokiatune

November 15th, 2011
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Nokia used an innovative crowdsourcing competition to find a fresh version of Nokiatune, the world’s most-played tune (at 1.8 billion times every day!). The Sound Agency’s Chairman Julian Treasure was honoured to be one of the final-stage judges after more than 4,000 entries from 68 countries had been whittled down to a top 10 – the five most-liked in the public voting, plus five selected by a panel.

Seven versions of the iconic Nokiatune melody (originally a fragment from Gran Vals by Francisco Tárrega) have been used since it was first launched in 1994: with this innovative competition, the company was looking for a fresh arrangement to coincide with the launch of the Nokia N9 handset. The prizewinning interpretation of Nokiatune will be available alongside the ‘official’ version in more than 100 million Nokia devices.

The winner, announced on October 9, was a dubstep arrangement, radically different from the familiar soothing versions. Says Tapio Hakanen of Nokia: “The winning version is fresh and creative… it has used the classic melody, but in a new way. Naturally we expected the production and playing to be of highest quality and any kind of collaborations were warmly welcomed. The top 40 included everything from classical orchestral versions, tango, techno and jazz to dance and a cappella performances.”

The choice has provoked some controversy, predictably since the winner is a radical departure from the more soothing traditional versions. “It wasn’t my number one choice,” reveals Julian. “I loved Nokia Cappella, but everyone’s taste is by definition individual – that’s why Nokia used a panel. It’s certainly very different, which I think was half the point of the competition. Maybe Nokia will carry on with this initiative and make crowdsourcing a regular part of its brand development. Now that really will be radical!”

You can listen to the entries on the competition website. The different versions were listened to over 10 million times and shared in social media close to 100,000 times.

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