Record Labels Turn to Apps for Album Distribution

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Universal Music Group is teaming up with Eagle Rock Entertainment to convert Nirvana’s Nevermind album into an iPad app in hopes of convincing consumers to sway consumers away from single track purchases at the iTunes Store. EMI hopped into that game last week, too, with its iPad app version of Swedish House Mafia’s Until One album, according to the New York Times.

The albums-as-apps offer all of the music tracks available on the regular albums, along with photos, videos, Twitter and Facebook links, and more. Users are limited, however, to listening to album tracks in the app.

Albums as apps. You go, crazy record labels.Albums as apps: The record label’s new thing.

While music fans may not be overly excited about being forced to listen to songs in a custom app instead of iTunes on their iPads, record labels think the idea has potential. “This is very much a test of a really new and exciting technology platform that will push the boundaries of what you can do on a tablet,” commented EMI’s vice president of digital business development, Cosmo Lush.

Mr. Lush thinks consumers will start to see albums as apps as a kind of status symbol, too.

“I have this vision of someone lying by the swimming pool in Ibiza or the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, and listening to the Swedes’ album,” Mr. Lush said, “showing they’ve got great taste in music and also that they’ve got cutting-edge technology at their fingertips.”

Considering consumers have made it clear they typically want to buy songs individually instead of as complete albums, Mr. Lush and other record label executives may have a tough row to hoe. Since full album sales are more lucrative for labels, however, don’t expect companies to give up on the idea of albums as apps quickly.

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8 Comments Leave Your Own

Substance

There’s some merit to this idea but it misses 2 of the biggest reasons why people buy indifidual songs over albums - familiarity and price. 

The days of people forking over at least $10 to buy an album based on a couple songs they heard on the radio are long gone and nothing is going to make them come back.  Giving people the ability to listen to the whole album through the app is nice, but you’re only catering to people who either have a lot of free time or are already very into the artist in question.  And many of those would probably buy the album anyways. 

Another factor is quality.  There’s very few albums out there that are worth $9.99.  And even those albums that are worth it, good luck finding a way to casually hear more than a handful of tracks before you have to committ to the purchase.  I’m not talking about the 90 seconds previews on iTunes here, I’m talking about the promotion through singles method the record companies have relied on for years. 

Either promote all the songs on the album or accept the reality that if over half your album is filler, just release EPs.

prl53

Notice the article says the “record labels think the idea has potential.” This means it helps their bottom line but doesn’t necessarily help the artist’s. I understand labels help promote and distribute music but it bothers me that then tend to have a whole lot of money while not actually providing any product of their own. Power to the musicians and forget the labels. I will pay for good songs, not songs I’ll never listen to that fill up my computer.

Engine Joe

The inability to listen to the music outside of the app is the dealkiller for me.  So now I need hundreds of different apps to listen to hundreds of different albums, I can’t shuffle/mix them, and I can’t listen to them on my computer or iPhone.

No wonder the only angle they have for marketing this is as a status symbol.

Ethical Paul

I think the album app that I wrote fits all of your criteria. You can download the songs if you wish outside of the app and the price is $4.99. Plus it’s full of beautiful art and interesting content. I may be biased but see if you disagree.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kristin-hersh-crooked/id398950554?mt=8

Lee Dronick

I think the album app that I wrote fits all of your criteria. You can download the songs if you wish outside of the app and the price is $4.99. Plus it?s full of beautiful art and interesting content. I may be biased but see if you disagree.

I did check it out and bought the app-book directly from my iPad. it is very nicely done, the music can be very evocative, the photographs of the flowers are beautiful. I am quite impressed with the product and the concept.

I very much like having the lyrics to the songs included and that feature will be very handy for my hearing impaired wife. Same with the voiceover with the essays.

A couple of suggestions. For me the type size could be a point or two larger, especially when white on black. I also would like a feature where it would play through all songs without me having to turn the page or go to the table of contents.

How big is the file? It took quite a while to download, that may be this flaky speed on my AT&T DSL; I do not have a 3G model iPad 2, I was on WiFi here at my home office.

I also checked her out on iTunes and bought two of her tracks, not from Crooked, Deep Wilson and Me and My Charms.

Was the app worth the money? Yes, for me it was. Not only did I get a very nice music app the purchase gave me access to her website where I could download the album, two additional tracks, and some other goodies. If this is the way album apps would go then I see it as good thing. On the other hand if I have to buy the app and the album separately then I it would depend greatly on the total cost and the quality of the music.

Good job Paul

Ethical Paul

Thank you Harry, I’m glad you liked it!

I will answer your valued input:
- regarding the font size, I agree it could be a bit better in places—I wish the iPad resolution was a little higher to make the text clearer. Crooked was a physical book before it was an app, and I chose to keep the same fonts and design as the physical book.

- We rolled around the idea of a “continuous playthrough mode” and ended up not going that way just for simplicity of interface. But we will keep looking at that.

- The app is large due to the lossless audio tracks. It’s a little over 500 MB. It also gained some weight from graphics when I made it universal.

Thanks again for your feedback!

Lee Dronick

- We rolled around the idea of a ?continuous playthrough mode? and ended up not going that way just for simplicity of interface. But we will keep looking at that.

- The app is large due to the lossless audio tracks. It?s a little over 500 MB. It also gained some weight from graphics when I made it universal.

Well I downloaded all the tracks and imported them into iTunes so the play through is kind of mote. However, keep it in mind for future books.

Yes, the graphics are probably a big contributor to the file size. If we want hires then for the time being we must with live with large graphic files.

In response Engine Joe. The album on iTunes is $9.99. This app is $4.99, but also links me to a free downloads of all the tracks on the album and then some, you get a password with the app. Of course for this to be a good deal I would need to have $5 worth of songs I like, in this case it does. But you are correct, all to often there is maybe only song I like in an album. Usually I preview an album. If there are more keepers than the price of the album I will buy the album instead of ? la carte.

Gotta a run for a while

Appledash

Mr. Lush seems to forget that it is not what you say that pushes consumers; it is what you do! And to his socalled app there is nothing new at all. Com on!

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