Monday, August 10, 2009

Now We're Talkin' Digital Strategy

If you are old enough to remember the LP, there's a good chance you fondly remember that buying a new album was more than just listening to the music; there was also the cool album jacket to read over and look at. You poured over the liner notes, the lyrics (if they were included), and of course the album art. Remember the album art craze? People actually took those album covers and turned them into wall hangings. Seems like decades ago-hey wait a was!! The album jacket was, in many cases, also the place to find out about the bands fan club--as close to social networking as we had in those days.

Starting with the cassette, and then the CD, and now digital media much of that experience has been lost. Of course there is no shortage of information about our favorite bands--a simple Google or Wikipedia search sees to that. It's not quite the same and the extra steps somehow don't replicate the experience of the album jacket.

As artists try to connect with fans a new trend may be emerging that screams of success--don't buy a single; don't buy an album; buy a APP. That's right, artists/labels are now developing their own apps that not only deliver the music but video, games, and yes, possibly the modern equivalent of liner notes and lyrics. Right now these apps are popping up for the Apple iPhone, but can Blackberry and others be far behind?

Very smart. Why sell a song or two when you can sell an experience? Why limit fan interaction to just music when it can be so much more than that? Why why why? The list goes on and on...

Hmmmm, sounds like what I have been talking about for years--radio is (should be) more than just the music (PPM be damned!) and more than just a single audio stream and more than simply a glossy "one-sheet" website. Now we're talking digital strategy folks!!

Read on for the full story

The Album Is Dead, Long Live the App

By Eliot Van Buskirk
August 4, 2009 |

The iTunes music store sells single songs at approximately the same price, with artist presented in more or less the same way.

Apple’s app store, however, is still somewhat like the wild west (at least as far as music goes), where the rules are being made up in real time. Artists and labels can sell music alongside other digital offerings through the app store at any price from zero to $999.99.

As we suggested last summer, this creates an opportunity for artists and labels to distribute a new type of product, especially because the app store concept is spreading to other mobile phone platforms.

On Monday, six of the 20 most recently submitted music apps to appear in the App Store featured a single artist: Jason Carver, Jessica Harp, Jimmy Cliff, John Butler Trio, Kadence, or The Cribs. Each showcases music videos, photos, news, photo-jumble games, concert listings, and/or community features that let fans share photos with each other. And all of them were made with iLike’s iPhone app toolkit — as was Ingrid Michaelson’s app, pictured to the right.

Since iLike launched the service in May, about 250 of the over 300,000 artists with access to iLike’s dashboard feature have launched customized iPhone apps through the system.

“We’re encouraged by the positive response our create-your-own-app platform has generated, and this is only the beginning,” said iLike CEO Ali Partovi. (The company also announced a new version of its Local Concerts app on Tuesday, with concert listings based on your music library, push notification for shows, maps to venues, and concert information sharing.)

These artist-specific apps, which labels also develop in-house, place a constantly-updating tattoo on fans’ phones. It’s like having a music subscription, but in the sense of a fan club, rather than in the sense of subscribing to music in general as one would with Rhapsody.

Many of iLike’s music apps are free and promotional. Other apps contain full songs, and cost money.

Dave Dederer, former singer and guitarist for the Presidents of the United States of America and current Melodeo business development vice president, released one of the first of these, which charged $3 for four albums plus exclusive material. His company sells another $3 app containing streaming versions of top 100 hip hop songs in the iTunes store (iTunes link).

The app store broke the rules for selling music through iTunes, and the ramifications of that are beginning to be felt. Now that iLike has allowed app creation to scale across hundreds of thousands of bands, and other mobile platforms are emulating Apple’s modular app concept, the artist-specific app could — in addition to being the new MySpace page — become a formidable music format in its own right.

If that happens, the idea of buying a bundle of music won’t die with the album — it will survive with the app.

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