When asked about the future of the music industry Brian Eno said in a recent interview to BBC news; “The future is in apps”. If the future is in apps then Bjork is the first artist to fully embrace that future by releasing the first interactive “app album” Biophilia.
I recently bought this app on my iphone and found it actually did change the way I listen to new music. There is so much music being released everyday, streaming from endless radio stations, spotify, itunes, youtube..it could drive anyone insane.
Given this stream of music attacking you from all sides and fighting for your attention I think something about the album experience gets lost. I mean, lets face it, when was the last time you listened to a full length album without doing anything else? no facebook, no twitter, no pausing to watch some other youtube video…It’s been a while right? That’s exactly why I think this new app by Bjork is brilliant.
The app is basically a constellation of stars and each star is a song you can tap and enter. Inside that star you can listen to the song along with simple but appealing animation, or play a game with the song as a background, or in some cases play a sort of instrument that was used in the song. Oh, and the songs are pretty damn good too.
I found myself watching the animation, looking at the screen, reading the lyrics, following the movements of the voice and the instruments. I don’t think I’ve listened to a song so seriously in a long time. Or maybe I’m just so used to multitasking that having something visual at the same time as listening to the song just makes it more engaging. The thing is there are a few options for exploring the song, reading an essay about it, watching the score as it plays or reading the lyrics. It makes you want to go through the different activities and by the end of it you feel like you actually know the album and connect it to as a visual experience as well.
This new way of distributing music is a step forward and it demonstrates how new technology could be used for the benefit of the music and the artists. We shouldn’t be afraid and stick with the old models. If people don’t want to buy the plastic anymore then maybe we shouldn’t be selling it. I paid £7 for this app, which is what I would have paid for a regular CD but I felt I got much more than that and in the process I thoroughly listened to a new album.
Bjork invested her own money (quite a lot) into this project and along with an app developing company that collaborated with her broke some new ground in the effort to make music consumption up to date and more engaging.
I’d take this kind of app anytime if I had to choose between that or a bunch of files that would most likely get buried in my huge itunes library probably forever. The CD is still available and just listening to that would be good enough for some people, but I feel like if I don’t get that extra value these days it’s just too easy to lose interest and move on to the next thing.