Veteran songwriter and producer Eric Foster White left the music business a decade ago, after penning pop songs for Britney Spears, Whitney Houston and the Backstreet Boys.
Now, White is mining his music industry experiences in a second career act that seeks to entertain a young audience tuned to their mobile phones, not their local radio stations.
The 52-year-old entrepreneur has developed ShowMobile, a mobile entertainment app for storytelling across social media platforms. White showcases the power of the app with a made-for-mobile tween series, “HitStreak,” about a former Latin pop star (played by Univision star Chiqui Delgado) who manages the careers of four aspiring musicians.
Mainstream television writers like Dawn DeKeyser (“Ugly Betty,” “Samantha Who”) have scripted a narrative — in the first season, the young musicians work to save the Miami Beach studio where they’ve been recording — that’s told through short videos, test messages and posts to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The story unfolds in episodic daily updates that appear within the ShowMobile app, as well as through text messages that the viewer receives simultaneously with the “HitStreak” characters.
Story elements also appear on established social media platforms, as digital breadcrumbs to entice young viewers to download ShowMobile. For example, Mariangeli, the 11-year-old character with perfect pitch, attracted nearly 17 million views on YouTube with her cover of Katy Perry’s hit single “Roar.”
“We’re not a huge company with a huge ad budget,” said White. “When we do a video that’s part of the story line, but also has vitality on its own, it gets shared.”
ShowMobile is another example of how the entertainment industry is courting young viewers, not only on traditional screens, but on the mobile devices and the social networks that are at the center of their lives.
Veteran Hollywood producer Peter Chernin attempted a similar experiment in transmedia storytelling last summer, with “SummerBreak.” The series, which followed nine Los Angeles teenagers as they prepared to leave for college, was told exclusively through social media.
White said ShowMobile has been downloaded about 150,000 times in the past six months. He is in talks with producers about developing other made-for-mobile series for the entertainment app, though he believes the platform can be used in different ways to bring together social media feeds in a central location.
For example, emerging pop artist Austin Mahone said Tuesday he will use ShowMobile to aggregate all of his social media activity for his fans.