Record Labels Turn to Apps for Album Distribution

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.