Thursday, December 27, 2012

InstantEncore's Mobile Class of 2012

Congratulations and thank you to all of the artists and arts organizations who launched apps with InstantEncore's mobile suite in 2012! Below is a slideshow spotlighting our Mobile Class of 2012 from individual musicians, ensembles, orchestras, theatres, opera companies, ballet companies, ticket offices, and more.
InstantEncore's Mobile Class of 2012 from InstantEncore. Maximize for best viewing.

Thank you again to all of our partners for making 2012 such a great year! We wish everyone a happy new year and look forward to working with you in 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Push Note of the Year 2012

Earlier today, Sarasota Opera sent out the following push notification to their mobile app subscribers:

This is a great example of how to use a short burst of humor when communicating with your mobile fans.  Congrats to Sarasota Opera on snagging the title of 2012 Push Note of the Year!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Gallery of Push Notifications

Earlier this year, we introduced the concept of push notifications - short text messages sent directly to your Apple and Android app subscribers.  Since then, a number of our partners have explored how to use push notifications in the service of different communication goals.  Check out these examples!

To view the most detail, expand the slide deck to full screen.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Connecting Your Mobile App with Google Analytics

An overwhelming number of artists and arts organizations use Google Analytics to track traffic coming to their websites.  This free tool can also provide a lot of rich data for your InstantEncore mobile apps and website, including unique visitors, traffic data for individual areas of your app, exit rates, and much more.  In turn, this data can be used to determine the effectiveness of your content and communications.

In the video below, we show you how easy it is to connect your Google Analytics account with your InstantEncore mobile suite.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Social Media and Your Mobile App, Pt 2 - Custom Tabs and a Centralizing Submenu

While syncing your social media feeds with the Buzz area of your mobile suite will centralize your dynamic content into a single area for your mobile audience, you also want to provide your fans with the ability to like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, etc.  The video below shows you two simple ways to add this feature to your app.

In the video, we talk about using the mobile-friendly URLs for your social media accounts. Here are the standard mobile-friendly formats for some of the more popular social networks:

  • Facebook -- 
  • Flickr --
  • Google+ --
    • Find your Google+ ID number by going to your Google+ profile page. The number is located in the URL address between 0/ and /posts. For example:
  • MySpace -- Unfortunately, you cannot take them directly to your mobile page.  They will need to go to, then login and search for you.
  • Pinterest --
  • Tumblr -- These blogs are already mobile optimized, so you can use your standard blog address.
  • Twitter --
  • YouTube --

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Social Media and Your Mobile App, Pt 1 - Feeding Content into Your Buzz

The Buzz area of the InstantEncore control panel provides dynamic content for your mobile app - in the What's New section of the home page as well as its own separate Buzz tab.  Many artists and arts organizations publish fresh content online through social media platforms and social networks.  So how can you bring this fresh content into your app's Buzz area?

The Buzz area automatically brings your content into the mobile suite by synchronizing with your content's RSS and Atom feeds.  The best way to automatically pull your social media and social networking content into your mobile app is to identify the RSS feed for your account and add it to the Buzz area.

Finding your content's RSS or Atom feed 

  • Blog or Podcast - Most blog and podcast platforms provide you with an RSS address so that your followers can subscribe to your content.  If you are not sure what your feed address is for your blog or podcast, conduct a search within the platform's FAQs or in its forum area.
  • Facebook - UPDATE: As of June 2015, Facebook no longer provides RSS or XML feeds for sharing content with web services. Click here for information on how to add Facebook content to your app.
  • Twitter - UPDATE: As of June 2013, Twitter no longer provides RSS or XML feeds for sharing content with web services.  Click here for information on how to add Twitter content to your app.
  • MySpace - MySpace provides you with the ability to grab the RSS feed for your MySpace blog.
    • On your profile page, click on "View All Blog Entries." 
    • In the top right-hand area of the next page, there are a few text links, one of them says "rss". 
    • Click on that link and the RSS feed address for your MySpace blog will appear in the web address bar.
  • Google+ - Here is the workaround for Google+.
    • Find your Google+ ID number by going to your Google+ profile page.  The number is located in the URL address between 0/ and /posts.  For example:
    • Copy your ID number
    • Add it to the end of this sequence:
  • Tumblr - Tumblr definitely has the easiest RSS feeds to find.  Use
  • Flickr - This one is pretty easy, too.  
    • Go to your Flickr photostream page and scroll to the bottom.
    • Where it says "Subscribe to YOUR photostream," click on the link next to it labeled "Latest"
    • The RSS feed address for your photostream will appear in the web address bar.
  • Pinterest - For Pinterest, the RSS feed will depend on whether you want the feed for your account or for a particular pinboard.
    • The RSS feed for your account will be
    • The RSS feed for a particular pinboard will be

Adding a feed to your Buzz

  1. Once you have located the feed for content, go the Buzz area of the control panel.
  2. Select Feeds in the submenu.
  3. Enter the RSS or Atom feed address in the empty text field.
  4. Select if the feed falls into the Blog, Podcast, or News category.
  5. Click on Add Feed.
  6. Once you have added your feed, be sure to click on Edit Image and upload a 75px X 75px graphic to  associate with the feed.  (We recommend PNG or GIF image files.)  Whenever content from the feed appears in your Buzz tab or on your Home tab, this graphic will appear in the list as a visual indicator of the source.
And you're done!  Now, you have dynamic content automatically feeding into the Buzz tab and the What's New area of the Home tab of your mobile app from your social media account.

Something to Consider 

Take a moment to think about your social media behavior.  If you frequently repost items from one social media source to another, then you may not want to add both feeds to your Buzz.  This would create redundant content entries.

So, if you automatically pull your Twitter posts into your Facebook wall posts, then perhaps you just want to select one of those social media accounts to feed into the Buzz area.

In our next post, we will look at two other ways of bringing your social media content into your mobile app.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Keep Your App Subscribers Engaged with Push Notifications

Adding new content to your app on a regular basis is a great way to keep your mobile audience engaged over time, but people have busy lives and may not always remember to check your app for updated events, videos, music, etc.  How can you keep your fans apprised of new additions to your mobile app?

Push It

Push notifications are short text messages sent directly to your Apple and Android subscribers on their mobile devices.  When downloads your app from either the Apple or Android marketplaces and launches the app on their mobile device, they are asked if they would like to receive these notifications from you.  By tapping "OK," subscribers have actively indicated that they would like to hear from you - so you should keep them updated and engaged!

Mobile devices are highly personal.  They are always with us and always turned on.  Therefore, it is important that you respect your fans' invitation to contact them by adhering to 2 golden rules:
  1. Keep it relevant.  While it may seem obvious, make sure that all of your push messages are relevant to your audience's primary interest - your work.  They want to know if you have new content in your app.  Are you streaming new music?  Did you add a series of video interviews with artists?  Do you have a special promotion for mobile users who purchase tickets for this weekend's performance?  Did you just announce next year's season?
  2. Keep it fresh.  Use your push notifications to alert your mobile audience to new content, events, promotions, etc.  Do NOT use push notifications to highlight content or events that have been in the app for awhile.  For example, continually sending messages reminding your fans to buy tickets for this event or that event is not a smart use of push notifications.  Now, if you have a special promotion for your app subscribers related to a particular event, then of course you should let them know.

Pushing Strategically

Here are a few things to consider as you develop your strategy for using push notifications:
  • You have 100 characters of text for your message
  • App subscribers will receive your message whether or not they are using your app at the time your message is sent
  • You may choose to have a sound associated with your push notification, so that there is an audio cue in addition to the visual alert
  • When a user taps on your push message, they are taken to your app's Home tab.  
  • TIP:  Use your Home tab's welcome message to highlight and connect to the content or event mentioned in your push notification.

How do you send push notifications?

  1. Login at 
  2. Open the Mobile submenu
  3. Select Push Notifications

  4. Enter up to 100 characters of text in the space provided
  5. Check the box if you would like a sound cue to accompany your message
  6. Click on the Push Message button to send your notification
Your apps subscribers have taken the initiative to download your app and give you permission to send messages to them.  Keep them informed, and keep them engaged.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

CIM to Stream Van Cliburn Commencement Address via Mobile App

On Saturday, May 19, the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) will live video stream its Commencement exercises at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) on and on its mobile optimized website and smartphone apps powered by InstantEncore. The ceremony will feature iconic music figure, pianist Van Cliburn, as CIM presents him with an honorary doctorate. He will also give the Commencement Address to approximately 120 graduates.

The musical program includes tribute performances by critically acclaimed pianist Sergei Babayan as well as pre-recorded work by his protégé – the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition Grand Prix Winner, pianist Daniil Trifonov.

"Our new ability to present CIM on a variety of internet platforms, including the web and mobile devices, offers exciting opportunities for us and for our audiences," said Conservatory Dean Adrian Daly. "I'm delighted that CIM will be streaming this year's Commencement, allowing us to share the celebration of our newest graduates and of Van Cliburn with a wider audience."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Connecting QR Codes to Tabs in Your Mobile App

QR codes are two-dimensional images that can be linked to online content. The image is scanned using a smartphone's camera, and the mobile user is taken directly to the content.

In this video, we walk through the process for connecting content from your InstantEncore mobile app with QR codes. The codes can be included in a variety of print publications: season brochures, postcards, posters, print ads, business cards, and more.

Expand the video to full screen for optimal viewing.

For tips on ways to use QR codes, check out these resources:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

5 Tips for Customizing Your Mobile App’s Background Image

It may seem trivial, but a customized background image can make a world of difference for the mobile app experience.  The background image within an app can enhance the visual palette, fortify your brand recognition, and provide graphical context for the mobile experience.

Your InstantEncore app defaults to a solid black wallpaper. While this is certainly not the most exciting choice, it is a useful default color due to its neutrality.

When customizing your own background image, remember that you want it to be interesting but not obtrusive. It should be a tasteful, thoughtful representation of you or your organization.

Here are five tips to help you create a great background image for your mobile app:

Tip #1 – Prepare and upload an image according to the specified dimensions.
UPDATE: The recommended image size is 640px wide by 960px tall. Must be JPG or PNG format. Smaller images (e.g. 320 x 480) will load more quickly, but may not look as sharp on higher resolution devices. Larger images (e.g. 1240 x 1920) will look sharper on tablet devices, but will take longer to load initially.

It is usually best to avoid landscape-oriented photos, but you can easily modify one to fit the proper background size. Try cropping the image or adding onto it in creative ways. Sometimes it’s not the best choice to merely crop a portion of your photo to 640x960, since the result could be a larger distraction to the eye. When that is the case, you can try this suggestion:

A quick suggestion to turn your favorite landscape-oriented photo into a useable background image. Click here to enlarge the photo.
Tip #2 – Subdue and avoid bright hues.
The primary text throughout your app is white, so we recommend keeping your background image dark – the darker the better. A light background will cause your content to be washed out, and any abrupt textures will create too much of a disturbance for the user.

Background Sample A
Avoid light backgrounds and textures like this.
If you really insist on your background being a pile of sticks, because for some reason it’s the best representation of you, add a black overlay and bring the opacity down to about 85% to lessen the attack - though using such a hectic image is still not advised.
Textures are usually great for a unique look, just remember to keep it simple. Avoid sharp repeated patterns. At such a small screen-size, an overly busy texture is very off-putting. If you like a particular image, but you’re worried about how it will look behind the text in your app, you can add a black (or other dark solid color) overlay with the transparency set anywhere from 50%-90%, depending on just how busy or bright the image is you’re using. Then simply preview, adjust as necessary, and use your best judgment.

The best digital wallpapers, small or large, are those that are subtle enough to not take away from the foreground, yet maintain a fair amount of elegance.

Tip #3 – Avoid text.
Text will get in the way of the actual content in your app. When positioned appropriately, a little subtle text or logo is manageable, but too much text – no matter how faded it is – will be distracting.

Tip #4 – Match your splash screen and remember your color scheme.
An easy and effective background idea could already be right in front of you. Your splash screen image is already the right size, so why not apply it to the rest of the pages in your app? You may have to adjust the intensity of the colors, or remove (if not fade) any logos or images, but using elements from your splash screen for the background is a great way to create a beautifully unified look throughout your app. Choosing a complementary color scheme for your header and accent features will give your app the sophistication your fans are looking for.

Tip #5 – Preview your app.
The background image appears on every page, including any custom pages you create, so spend some time previewing your app to make sure the pages are readable and looking the way you want. Remember, you can update your background or change it out as much as you like, whenever you want to freshen up the overall look of your app.

Here are some background examples from various InstantEncore Partners to help inspire you.

To view the most detail, expand the slide deck to full screen.

Customizing a background image for your app is a small step in enhancing your mobile appearance, but it makes your content more approachable and contributes a unique visual environment. Users will undoubtedly notice and appreciate your attention to detail. 
Be creative, and have fun with your style!  If you would like feedback or suggestions on your background image, send us an email.  We're happy to help.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Promoting Your Mobile App Just Got Easier

Recently, InstantEncore updated our mobile package to provide an added dimension of auto-detection which helps our partners to streamline their efforts to promote their mobile apps.

Now when someone visits your standard website, it will not only detect if the visitor is coming from a mobile device, but it will also determine what type of mobile device the visitor is using.

  • If the mobile visitor is using an Android or Apple device, they will be presented with a screen which gives them with two choices:  (1) download the app, or (2) continue to the mobile website.
  • If the mobile visitor is using any other type of mobile device, they will be taken directly to the mobile website.
The major implication for this update is that you no longer need to promote your mobile offerings with separate messaging.  No need to direct mobile users to the Apple or Android app stores.  Simply direct your audience to visit to your standard web address on their mobile device, and InstantEncore will handle the rest.

To ensure that your mobile package is integrated with your standard website in this manner, take a moment to complete these steps:
  1. Log into your InstantEncore account
  2. Select "Manage Mobile"
  3. Go to "Mobile Web Setup" in the menu on the left
  4. Copy the snippet of code provided in the area marked "Set up your website to recognize mobile devices"
  5. Paste this code into <head></head> area of your website's HTML code
    (...or have your trusty website manager do it for you.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kickstarting your InstantEncore Website

Kickstarter has rapidly become one of the most important new sources of funding for Artists and Arts Organizations. Overall, Kickstarter has had over $150 million pledged to help fund projects already, and they are only growing. Crowd-sourcing your funding is also a solid way to help grow your Fan base by giving those who could never sponsor an entire event or recording on their own a chance to be a part of the process.  You can create a stronger connection with them as more than just audience members, but as Partners. With that it mind, it only makes sense to look for the best ways to integrate Kickstarter into your own InstantEncore powered services.

Available to both Free and Pro accounts for Artists and Ensembles, your Website is your home on the internet. While it is of paramount importance to promote direct links to your Kickstarter page via social media such as Facebook and Twitter, no Kickstarter campaign would be complete without the information displayed prominently on your Website as well. New Fans will likely find you by your Website first, so letting them know that they can participate in your organization from the very start is key.

First, you will want to go to your Kickstarter's project page, find the "< > EMBED" button next to the other social media links, and click it to open the widget page.

Copy (Ctrl/Command-C) the code that appears to your clip board.  Once you have the embed code ready, go to your InstantEncore Website Control Panel and manage your Sidebar settings.

At the bottom will be an option to "Add Widget/HTML".  Give the Label a unique title, paste (Ctrl/Command-V) the code into the HTML area and click "Create".

You can use the orange arrows to change the order of where items appear on your Website. The higher up you place the Kickstarter widget, the more noticeable it will be.  The widget will also automatically update each time it is viewed, showing your progress. Your finished product should look something like this...

Sidebar items appear on every page of your Website for maximum visibility - whether Fans are looking at Events or listening to Music, they will always be aware that they can be your Partner instead of just a passive Fan.  For added visibility, you can manage your Website's Home page and add an announcement about it as well, as above.

Promoting your Kickstarter project is only half of the battle.  Creating compelling rewards levels will be the deciding factor for not only IF people will help, but by how MUCH.  This is another step in which integrating your InstantEncore services can help seal the deal.

An extremely effective low level reward is to offer some of your music as a free download.  Simply create a Download Code Campaign in your Control Panel, create either a single universal code or several personalized codes, and send a code to each Backer who helped fund at that level.

Higher level rewards usually combine low level ones with other exciting incentives such as autographed materials or special recognition.  Why not take it one step further and add the highest Backer as a Sponsor on InstantEncore? This option is available when managing an Event or Music Album options, or use your imagination with any of the custom content areas on your Website!

Mobile Apps
Stay tuned...!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Branding Your Mobile App with Graphics

According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is "a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers."  So how are performing artists and arts organizations using graphic elements within their mobile apps to identify and differentiate themselves from other artists and arts organizations?

Mezzo-soprano Angela Young Smucker IS her brand.

VISAGE: For individual artists and ensembles, they are the brand.  Correspondingly, the brand is typically connected directly to their visage.  In the example above, mezzo-soprano Angela Young Smucker uses her headshot as a primary tool for building her brand recognition.

You'll notice that she uses a singular image as a graphical branding tool - for every icon, for every platform.  The constant and consistent use of this image provides for a strong fortification of her visual brand online and on mobile devices.

Linden String Quartet uses various images of the group members to strengthen their brand.

The use of multiple visage-focused graphics can also reinforce an artist or ensemble's visual brand.  In the example above, Linden String Quartet uses multiple images of the quartet members to fortify their brand.  In some of the images, they hold their instruments which plays more strongly on the musical nature of the brand.  Other images feature the ensemble in jeans and t-shirts which highlights their accessibility.

San Diego Opera builds its visual brand around the typographical design for the "O" in opera. 

LOGO:  Perhaps, the most common visual branding element for organizations is their logo, which may be an image, text, or a combination of the two.  For example, San Diego Opera has a primarily textual logo with the sole graphical departure being the "O" in opera, which has a different slant and font than the rest of the text.  While they often use the entire logo to brand the organization, a predominant emphasis is placed on the "O" for building brand recognition.  Even in the smaller icons for their mobile app, the signature "O" is the piece of the logo that remains the most recognizable.

The Cleveland Orchestra uses a seemingly unrelated graphical element -- branches with leaves --
as the primary tool for visually branding the organization within its mobile app.

Sometimes the logo shows a direct relationship to the organization, as in the case of the San Diego Opera.  Other times, the logo pushes the viewer to make their own connections between the graphic and the organization.  If we look at The Cleveland Orchestra, we can see that they consistently use a silhouetted branch pattern in their visual branding.  As there is nothing particular about this branch pattern that connects directly to orchestral music or the city of Cleveland, viewers must create the relationship for themselves.  Interestingly enough, the consistent and repeated use of the graphic insists to the viewer that there IS a connection -- we just have to figure out what it is.

Okay, so what about their Homepage Icon?  This icon appears in the Welcome message area at the top of the Home page.  It also serves as the default icon for any content in the mobile which does not have an image associated with it.  In this case, The Cleveland Orchestra was already using their graphic and color (see next section) in the Background Image for the app - so they needed to use another image as the Home page so that the icon did not get lost.  They decided to use an image of the stage from the audience's point-of-view.  This is a great way of subtly reinforcing the app user's relationship to a live performance's audience.  Bravo!

COLOR:  As noted above The Cleveland Orchestra carries the colors established on its standard website into its mobile app as a branding element.  Another example of how color may be used for branding within the mobile app is Pacific Symphony.  Let's analyze the collage above from top left across and down to bottom right.

Pacific Symphony starts pulling color from their standard website into the header for their Tumblr blog along with the graphical and textual elements of their logo.  Then, they pull the color into a gradiated background for the app store icon which also features the logo's text in white as well as a silhouetted version of the logo's graphic.  This reappears in both the Menu Icon and the Homepage Icon.

They choose a lighter version of the background color and graphic silhouette for the app's Splash Screen, then they exchange the background color for a complimentary one in the Background Image.  Why?  With the Homepage Icon pulling the same color and graphic presentation as the App Store Icon and Menu Icon, they need a strong contrasting color that would allow them to continue to use the graphic element within the Background Image without it being too much for the eye.  It also provided them with another color that could be used in Blog Feed Icon to further differentiate where the content in the app is coming from while maintaining the organization's visual brand.

So as you build your online and mobile presence, consider your visual brand every step of the way.   What must stay consistent and where can you benefit from variation?  If you can master that, then your fans will always recognize your brand - wherever they may see it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's New in the InstantEncore Control Panel?

Over the weekend, you may have noticed that the InstantEncore Control Panel has a new look and layout. Here is a brief walkthrough of some of the changes as well as new elements that have been added.

Expand the slideshow to full screen for optimal viewing.

Friday, February 24, 2012

5 Awesome Splash Screens for Mobile Apps

As a complement to Scott's tips for your mobile app's splash screen, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of our partners' awesome splash screens and point out what makes them so great. Check them out!

Expand slideshow to full screen for optimal viewing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tips for Your Mobile App’s Splash Screen

As one of the many customizable features of your Android and iPhone apps, the splash screen serves a few purposes and should not be ignored when first preparing your app. We begin by addressing the truth – splash screens do not technically exist. The real purpose of the splash screen is to hide the fact that the app is not instantly ready. Existentialism aside, this loading page has a higher purpose for you and your fans. For the user, the splash screen acts as a welcome to your app, confirming any doubts about what they just downloaded, and reassuring them of their decision to download the app to their device. Your job is to provide an aesthetically pleasing experience while the user waits for his or her device to eventually load the app’s content.

When you’re preparing any of the elements of your app, remember that you’re customizing a user experience. Style is important to your audience, and therefore should be important to you. From the second a user touches the icon to the second they exit the app, they are judging your app’s content as well as its presentation. They base future decisions upon their interactions with your app, whether it’s easy ticket purchasing, or simply returning to the app to see what’s new. With that said, let’s treat the splash screen as a first impression. The entire app should be easy to read, easy to navigate, and stylistically appealing – or else you are simply not taking full advantage of having a mobile-friendly digital presence.

Tip #1 – Prepare and upload an image according to the specified dimensions.
UPDATE:  Since the release of iPad tablet computers with retina image display, we ask for an image with 1800px by 2800px resolution. If you upload an image that is not 1800 x 2800 it will be adjusted to fit that size. Please note that this image will be scaled down for smaller devices. The smallest size is 320 x 480 pixels. Your image should not contain text or small details that will not look good at this small size.

To accomodate devices with different aspect ratios we recommend including a "bleed" area of 225px on the top and bottom and 115px on the left and right. Anything outside this area may be cut off on certain devices.

If you upload an image with different dimensions, it will be adjusted to fit this size. Which means if you have a square or landscape image, we will scale the width and add in a background color behind it. The ideal image should be customized to the dimensions above.

Tip #2 – Anticipate how it will look on devices.
• It displays in portrait view on devices, so it should not be designed horizontally.
• Smartphone screen sizes vary from device to device. Depending on the size of the mobile device, the splash screen will take up more or less of the screen. After the image is scaled to the best of its ability, a black border fills in the rest of the space around it (See top image).
• The iPhone toolbar will overlap the top portion of the image you upload, so plan your text placement accordingly. Feel free to use this template when preparing your splash screen if you’re worried about spacing or overall dimensions.

Tip #3 – Kill two birds with one stone.
If you’re an artist or ensemble and you’re already taking advantage of our free website service, consider using your header image that you’ve already created.

Tip #4 – Know your editing options.
If you do not have Adobe Photoshop or any other expensive image editor on your computer, and your best friend who does have the Adobe Suite isn’t answering his or her phone, then there are a number of online image editors that have more than enough tools for you to customize a beautiful splash screen. Sumo Paint is one browser-based image editor that we recommend. It’s quick to upload a photo, add in text, and crop it to a specific size.

Tip #5 – Make it simple and catchy.
The loading screen can take anywhere from 1 second to 10 seconds depending on the speed of the user’s device and how much content is in your app. Since some devices are faster than others, you need an image that is easy to understand, easy to read, as well as tasteful. If you need ideas or inspiration, check out a sampling of great partner splash screens here.

Tip #6 – Think ahead.
• Once submitted, your splash screen cannot be altered or substituted without going through the submission process all over again. We generally only do this in outstanding cases, as each submission takes time, so spell check and make sure you’re happy with the result!
• Pretty soon we will be requesting higher resolution splash screens for those who want to take advantage of the newer devices’ display capabilities, such as Apple’s retina screen on the iPhone 4 series. One way to stay ahead of the game is to make sure you are using high quality images, and scalable vector graphics where appropriate. We will update you with specifications as we make the transition to accommodate these new displays.

How the user is greeted does make a difference. The splash screen should be thought of as just another part of the app experience, as well as a representation of your mobile identity. We look forward to seeing your designs!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Engaging Mobile Audiences, Part II: Apps vs Websites

Palm Beach Opera engages mobile audiences with an iPhone app,
an Android app, and a mobile website.
Once we recognize the need to provide our audiences with content optimized for their mobile devices, we are immediately presented with the question of how will we deliver that content.  Should we use a mobile website, mobile apps, or both?

From a technological standpoint, mobile websites may be accessed through the web browser on any mobile device.  This means that your patrons can experience your content in an optimized format regardless of whether  they use a Blackberry, an iPhone, an Android, or any other smartphone or tablet computer.  So, question answered, right?  Obviously, a mobile website is the best choice.

Not so fast.  While a mobile website makes the most sense from an accessibility perspective, what about from a behavioral point-of-view?  If you own a smartphone, consider your own usage.  What do you use more frequently on your phone - apps or your internet browser?  (If you do not own a smartphone, ask your friends about their usage.)

To be blunt, smartphone culture is app culture.  As I mentioned in part I of this series, mobile research company Flurry Analytics released a report at the end of 2011 based on public data which found that Americans spend an average of 94 minutes per day using mobile apps vs. 72 minutes per day browsing the web - this includes mobile web browsing combined with desktop web browsing.

Smartphone owners use their mobile web browser to search for information, but they use mobile apps for ongoing interaction.  This is what lies at the heart of deciding how you will deliver mobile content to your audience.

  • Do you want audience members to find optimized content when they perform an internet search on their mobile devices?  If so, then you need a mobile website.
  • Do you want to provide mobile users with access to your content regardless of the type of device they use?  If so, then you need a mobile website.
  • Do you want mobile users to engage repeatedly with your content?  If so, then you need to use mobile apps.
  • Do you want mobile users to engage more deeply with your content than an information search?    If so, then you need to use mobile apps.
If you want to achieve all of these things, then your mobile strategy must include a mobile website  AND mobile apps.

As you may know, mobile apps are particular to the device.  iPhone apps do not work on Android devices; Android apps do not work on Blackberry devices; etc.  So, how do you decide which mobile apps to pursue?

According to the Nielsen Company's 2011 year-end report, over 46% of all smartphone users have Android devices and 30% of smartphone users have iOS (Apple) devices.  And if the smartphone sales for the last three months of 2011 are indicative of the future, then Android and Apple will gain an even stronger hold on the smartphone market.  

So the bottom line is this:  a comprehensive mobile strategy should include a mobile website, an Android app, and an iPhone app.  While the mobile website will provide universal access to your content for ALL smartphone users, the iPhone and Android apps will provide nearly 80% of smartphone users with mobile content in a format that they prefer to use.

At InstantEncore, we believe in providing performing artists and organizations with the tools that they need to implement a comprehensive mobile strategy without charging an exorbitant fee.  To learn more about the pricing and features of our comprehensive 3-in-1 mobile solution, visit  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Engaging Mobile Audiences - Part I: Do You Have To?

You've got a website, and you're using social media to engage online audiences.  Do you really have to engage audiences via mobile devices?

In 2009, researchers at Morgan Stanley released a report forecasting that by 2014 more people will be accessing web content via mobile devices than by laptop or desktop computers.

By the end of 2011, we can see the evidence of this prediction coming to fruition when we look at the average number of minutes per day Americans spend on internet browsing vs. using mobile apps.

So if we acknowledge that people are starting to use the mobile internet as much or more than desktop internet, then it only stands to reason that we need to think about the mobile internet user's experience.

When smartphone users go to standard websites, they have an experience that is not optimized for them.  The standard website is reduced to fit on screen so that nearly any text on the site is illegible.  The user has to pinch, expand, and slide the screen around in order to read the text and navigate to the content they seek. It makes for a frustrating experience.

Mobile websites and mobile apps isolate the content that is most likely to be of interest to mobile audiences and display it in a manner that is optimized for smaller, touch-based screens.  If artists and arts organizations wish to remain relevant as mobile internet usage continues to grow, they must provide content to mobile audiences in a manner that is designed to provide them with an optimal experience.

In part II of this series on mobile audience engagement, we'll take a look at the differences between mobile websites and mobile apps.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February Webinar and Mobile Mentoring

Okay, you've signed up for InstantEncore PRO.  You have the ability to give your audience the content that they want at their fingertips - anytime, anywhere.  You have an iPhone app, an Android app, AND a mobile website.  Now, how are you going to make the most of these tools?

This month, we're launching two new support services to help you have the utmost success with your mobile engagement strategy.

  • Webinar - Making the Most of Your Mobile Apps
    February 16, 2012 - 2:00pm-3:00pm EST - Artists & Ensembles register here
    February 23, 2012 - 2:00pm-3:00pm EST - Arts Organizations register here

    In this 60-minute webinar, we will guide you through the updated Control Panel, spotlight best practices from our partners, and announce new features to be added to our mobile service in March.

  • Mobile Mentoring
    Sign up for a 30-minute session with Partner Liaison Erick Rarick, who will work with you 1-on-1 to discuss your mobile strategy and identify areas of your apps that can help you meet your goals.

    To schedule a session with Erick, go to and select one of the 30-minute sessions available throughout the month of February.

Each month, we'll offer mentoring sessions and new webinars focusing on particular areas of mobile engagement. If you have suggestions for topic areas, please email them to

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Announcing Two Streamlined Services for Engaging Web and Mobile Audiences

Artists know that their relationship with the audience is not limited to the performance on the stage. Today’s audiences want to learn more about the artists both before the performance and after the event.

Over the years, InstantEncore has developed a powerful system for artists and arts organizations to manage their online content and share it with their fans.  From news and event listings to streaming music and video, thousands of artists and organizations have used our system to give their audiences fantastic content.  Now, InstantEncore announces two streamlined services to help performing artists and organizations to connect and engage more fully with their fans.

  • InstantEncore FREE - a fast, easy and affordable tool allowing performing artists and ensembles to build their own professional websites without hiring a webmaster or knowing how to code. With IE FREE, artists can also connect their content with their social media accounts.

  • InstantEncore PRO - a multi-platform package allowing artists and arts organizations to engage mobile audiences with their own mobile website, iPhone app, AND Android app.  Additionally, artists and organizations using IE PRO gain access to our API, which allows them to pull content directly into their external websites.

To learn more about these services, take a tour of their powerful features, and view a showcase of our partners, visit

In the upcoming weeks and months, we'll be sharing best practices for web and mobile strategy, spotlighting examples from the performing arts, as well as providing tips and suggestions keeping your audiences engaged.  If you have particular areas you'd like us to explore, send us your questions.