There has been no shortage of news with regards to the future of the album here. How can artists sell more than just singles now that our culture seems to be so quick to acquire and discard whatever music is “hot right now?” You might remember the stories on The Presidents Of The USA using Melodeo to distribute music, Depeche Mode working out an iTunes pass, or more recently, Apple working out a plan with the big 4 on how to make full albums more inticing for consumers. I touched on that briefly with Barcelona in WWTV #001 too. Here’s an article from Eliot Van Buskirk from Wired, about how iPhone Apps may be replacing Albums for artists. Services like iLike are making it easier than ever for artists to put out an app with their music loaded up, and bonus content too (videos, games, etc). The plus for the artist seems to be in that, to my knowledge, you can’t pirate apps like MP3 files.
Do you think the App will replace the Album in the near future? Has it already happened?
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.