The App Is the New Album (Or Something Like That…)

If you think the album is dead, then maybe you’re not truly living! Just look at the millions of vinyl devotees, or digital album sales surges for signs of life!

But wait: these are mere islands in a surging sea of disaggregated singles and snippets, YouTube clips, Pandora stations and Spotify playlists.  The nostalgic newness of vinyl seems more exciting than the songs themselves, and the single-tasking album listener is a dated animal.

Which begs the question: is there an album 2.0 ahead, and if so, what will it really look like?  Last week, we profiled the early-stage eVinyl, an LA-based garage attempting to create a living, breathing, interactive collection of multimedia ‘album’ elements.  All wrapped in a cross-platform app, one that plays nice with iPads and Nooks alike.

Which seems related to innovations coming from gigantic artists like Bjork and Sting.  In fact, these artists are plowing huge amounts of capital and resources into album-esque app ideas, and in the case of Sting, that meansmillions of dollars.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the Sting app required an investment in the ‘low seven figures,’ a tab conveniently picked up by American Express and Chevrolet.

Sting tapped @radical.media to build the ‘Sting 25’ app, and the finished product includes lots of concert footage, music, images, interviews, and a retrospective on a multi-decade career.  It even interfaces with the iPad-installed iTunes to detect which Sting songs are already downloaded.

It’s not your father’s album experience, but then again, it’s not your father’s price point, either.  Instead, Sting’s app is free, raising the most sticky question about next-generation album experiences.  That is, will anyone besides American Express pay for these things – consistently, and at a price that can support the artist?

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