|The 1st album-app: see links list at end of this post|
There have been a raft of announcements from major acts that they are releasing new material as apps, most prominently Lady Gaga, whose next album will be released as an app. Others are seeking to encourage listeners to upgrade from streams of their work to purchases by throwing in videos and other content with the album (or concert DVD) bundled as an app.
The article below gives good examples of this.
There are also multiple additional links at the end of this post.You need to be blogging on, and thinking about digitisation and how this imapcted the music industry - a relevant factor when thinking about audience targeting/feedback/publicity, design, the rising significance of back catalogue sales (often stimulated by reissue/remastered editions, with previously unreleased demos and alternative versions added to the album or as a 2nd CD also common, as is 'best of' collections with a small number of new/unreleased tracks). As the long tail theory becomes an accepted part of contemporary economics (Amazon is the perfect example of a company making fortunes by selling few copies of many back catalogue items), new videos for archive tracks is a major growth area for media producers within the creative industries (as an economic sector, second only to the financial sector in scale and share of GDP) ... such as yourselves.
If you've been looking at the 1st part of your exam, you'll have noted that Q1a (DCRUP) is potentially linked to this issue - ditto Q1b (MANGeR), for example through Audience.
Music apps are the new albums. Or the new concert DVDs. Or...David Gilmour, Lady Gaga, The xx and Calvin Harris app strategies show music industry experimentation
Every so often, the music industry gets sucked into a debate about whether the traditional album is dead, even if the murderer has varied down the years, from iTunes downloads to Spotify playlists.
Taylor Swift's ability to sell 1.2m albums in a week in the US alone suggests that the album remains alive and kicking, so you won't catch me suggesting that apps are the next candidate to kill off long-players.
It's more accurate to say there's some interesting experimentation going on around apps and albums that either mutate the traditional format, or act as digital marketing to promote it.
Some examples from the last week show how. Former Mercury Prize winners The xx launched an Android and iOS app inviting fans to "immerse yourself" in their most recent album, Coexist.
That means high-definition videos for every song – IF you already own it digitally – an interactive version of the album artwork, lyrics and the usual artist-app mix of news, tour-dates, ticketing and merchandise links. It's a companion app to the album, rather than a replacement for it.
Elsewhere, Calvin Harris also has a new album out, 18 Months, which also has a companion app for Android and iOS. This one streams the entire album in full, but with a twist: only while you dance.
Well, move is more accurate: the app uses the device's accelerometer to detect the user's movement, and stops playing if you stop moving. A fun novelty, perhaps, but also one that nudges fans towards buying the album, even though it's available in full through the app.
A third example, which isn't out yet, is David Gilmour In Concert, which will be released on iOS on 19 November with Android to follow. It's less an album, and more a live-concert DVD. In fact, it's a specific live-concert DVD from 2002, offering all that release's video and extras for a 2012-suitable price of £5.99.
Then there's Lady Gaga, who revealed plans to turn her next album ARTPOP into an app earlier in 2012.
Speaking to The Guardian last weekend, Gaga's manager Troy Carter promised "chats, films for every song, extra music, Gaga-inspired games, fashion updates, magazines and more still in the works", while sugesting that "the idea of having an application is the future".
Finally, another bunch of veterans – Crosby, Stills & Nash – have launched CSN, which claims to be "the first subscription-based iPad app for a recording artist to be approved for sale in the Apple App Store".
The app itself is free, providing a band biography and links to iTunes, social networks and the band's official site. But fans who pay £2.49 a month will get "exclusive content, updates and premium fan features".
So, two examples of apps that promote the album – with and without full streams included – one example of an app repackaging existing DVD content, an upcoming app that becomes a supercharged version of the album, and another that aims to make money for a band through digital subscriptions.
None of these apps represents a solution to the recorded music industry's problems over the last decade, and none of them will either kill or save the traditional album. They're just interesting, innovative experiments hinting at how apps might play a role in artists' careers going forward.
Bjork's Biophilia - 1st album-as-app? (Oct 2011 release, in conjunction with Apple)
Bjork Biophilia remix album-app (Oct 2012);
Guardian launches Spotify app for reader reviews (Nov 2011) [aud feedback becoming integral part of mainstream media content];
Sting claims he'll release apps not albums (Nov 2011);
Lady Gaga's next album, Artpop, to be an app? (Sept 2012);
Brian Eno app Scape allows users to remix his music (Sept 2012; Scape is an update on Bloom - an app/software from 2008, showing this trend has been gestating for a while);
Guardian AppsBlog - regular round-ups and news on new apps (general, not just music-related), worth browsing occasionally;