- Author Matthew Higgs
- Published July 7, 2014
Opinion: Why apps are the future of music
It’s not an antiques shop – the music industry should be at the cutting edge of technology. In an age of 3D TVs, cars that drive themselves and movies that download in seconds why are we still playing with our granddad’s vinyls, poor quality MP3 files and CDs that stick?
It seems the music industry is in a bit of a mess. As American rapper and producer, Kanye West, said in an interview with Zane Lowe last year: “The entire music industry was hit by a glacier by the Internet.” It’s a glacier that won’t melt any time soon, it’s time to deal with it, folks.
Unfortunately those who have tried to deal with it haven’t got very far. Pay-per-song downloads were supposed to be the answer, until people figured you could get music for free elsewhere. Now everyone seems to think the answer is streaming. It may be the answer for singles but it’s no way to get the full enjoyment from music that an artist has spent a career crafting.
The answer is here
The solution is clear. Apps are the centre point of all smartphones. Many people now play their music through their smartphone or tablet – music companies should open their eyes to this great possibility.
Apps allow artists to be creative. In an era of unadventurous, predictable and repetitive music releases, where breaking Vevo records means more to fans than being No.1, the music industry needs creativity.
In 2011, Björk became one of the first artists to release an app-album with her record Biophilia. It became a huge success and included animations and a game for each song – much more enjoyment than you’d get from streaming the album. That it was interactive opened people’s minds – music doesn’t just have to be 12 music files on your computer.
In 2013, Jay Z put out his album Magna Carta… Holy Grail in an app form and, unlike Björk, made it available for free. Sponsorship funded the project, which included behind-the-scenes videos and the music was released through the app before general release. Aside from the app, the album was still No.1 in both the US and UK charts and was nominated for six Grammy’s in 2014. Finally, someone innovative is giving technology a chance…
The future needs to hurry up
With more and more artists now experimenting with the app idea, it should only be a matter of time before this becomes the future of music releases. If fans can get the album for free and enjoy a more interactive experience then it works for them. If artists and bands can generate revenue from advertising and/or sponsorship then it works for them. Who’s not to gain?
It will be a slow process, as hyper-vigilant music executives seem very cautious about the app-idea. Even if it does cost a lot to produce high-quality apps, if there are millions of downloads it makes sense to go down that route. Apps open possibilities to make music exciting again!
Artwork, photo shoots, live performances, interviews, games and animations can all be included. Music videos, behind-the-scene footage to show fans the recording process – the possibilities are endless. Music doesn’t just have to be aural. It can be visual.
Apps bring the artist closer to the fans – it’s a more personal experience than having a third-party streaming service, download site or record store getting in the way. Apps don’t take up physical space – the problem with CDs, tapes and vinyl. Who doesn’t have at least one cupboard full of dusty old CDs getting in the way?
Quality and quantity
As for the sound quality, MP3s try to balance good quality sound with a low storage space, often sacrificing the former. With tablets and smartphones increasing capacities, storing higher-definition music files in an app won’t be a problem – music companies can concentrate on delivering high-quality remastered music. It’s a win-win situation.
In a month where the UK singles chart include streaming data for the first time, the industry is finally waking up to things need to change to keep the music industry running. Music is more popular than ever, yet album sales are lower than ever. Streaming might be the answer for singles, but apps are the answer for the future of albums.
Instead of fighting the digital age musicians must embrace it. And embrace it fully – apps and all.
Matt Higgs is one of our new Rising Stars writers. You can read the rest of his stuff here >>>
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