If “Video Killed the Radio Star” and Napster killed the record store, is it possible that musician-made apps will replace the music video? In the last two weeks Björk‘s Biophilia and the Polyphonic Spree‘s Bullseye arrived in the App store. Both are prime examples of musicians using iOS apps as promotional tools.
When musicians collaborate with developers to release an iOS app, listeners gain a new way to engage with the performer. Not only is this welcome news for music fans, but musicians should embrace it as well. Apps have the potential to offer musicians an additional creative outlet, as well as to become a viable way for the music industry to bolster floundering record sales.
Björk’s Biophilia is the “mother” application in a series of apps that she plans to launch in support of her upcoming musical release, which is also entitled Biophilia. At the moment only “Crystalline” is available for in-app purchase, but more apps will be released over time.
Each app under the Biophilia umbrella coincides to a song from Biophilia. All of the apps play their eponymous song and display stunning graphics, but each will have its own special function that relates to the song’s theme. For example “Thunderbolt” will include an interactive lightening sound maker. While “Solstice” will feature an interactive circular harp, and “Moon” will offer a music sequencer. Biophilia is free to download from the app store. Additional apps can be purchased for $1.99, and the entire series can be purchased for $9.99.
Bullseye from the Polyphonic Spree is an interactive, character-based music video that the band released to support their new single,
“Bullseye.” Listeners can choose between a studio or acoustic version of “Bullseye” to play along with the application. Bullseye gives users a chance to follow and interact with a creature named You-Me through touch and tilt controls. The application’s colorful, floaty graphics bear a resemblance to PixelJunk’s Eden for PS3. Bullseye is available for download in the App store for $1.99.
Some readers might be wondering, “just who are these bands?” Although Björk may still be best remembered for the swan dress she wore at the 2001 Academy Awards, she is also an accomplished singer-songwriter and composer who hails from Iceland. Polyphonic Spree are a orchestral-pop collective from Texas who are lead by Tim DeLaughter. The Polyphonic Spree comprise 15 to 20 members, including a choir. The group usually performs in costumes, which have ranged from all-white choir robes to solid black army outfits.
Anyone familiar with the work of either Björk or Polyphonic Spree, however, will not be surprised to find either on the cutting edge of music’s intersection with iOS.
As apps continue to grow in popularity, they will bootstrap their way into the App store, evolving from any number of different of media platforms. Besides being able to replicate software of all kinds, apps will continue to emerge from print media and television as well as music.
It is too soon to know if apps will become, as music videos once were, the must-have tool for song promotion. It will be exciting to see what artists across all mediums are able to create as they integrate iOS applications into their media palette.