We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: When it comes to album pre-release streams, we really dig it when artists make us work for the tunes. That’s why we’re kind of smitten with the idea behind Calvin Harris’s new app, 18 Months.
18 Months — a mobile offering for iOS and Android — is meant to be a teaser for Harris’s recently released album by the same name. After you fire up the app, you’ll be able to listen to all the tracks on the new disc, with one caveat: You have to dance, and keep on dancing. Yup, the music is motion-controlled. (If you’re one of the many who have been cooped up at home due to Hurricane Sandy, this should be a good way to get up and moving.) You can also unlock a slew of remixes by taking a picture of the album cover.
The app is free, which means you can dance and listen forever, essentially. Those who get tired of the constant motion, however, can purchase the album within the app.
As we said up yonder, we’re fans of any apps or innovations designed to get people interested in tunes in quirky ways. Here are a few of our favorite standout innovations from the past year:
On September 11, Bob Dylan released his 35th studio album, Tempest, and to herald its coming, Columbia Records hooked up with creative marketing company CNNCTD+ to come up with an interesting way to tease the disc — via a geolocation app called Sound Graffiti.
In order to hear tracks from the recently released Tempest, fans must visit ListenToBobDylan.com on their mobile phones and add the app to their iOS or Android devices (we’re not sure why there’s no official mobile app, but so it goes), then visit locations marked on a map on Dylan’s website. Traversing any of the physical locations — marked with album art — will unlock a track from the album, allowing the user to listen at will.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s not, really. True fans will have to really work hard to unlock every track. Firstly, the app is very precise — if you leave the spot stenciled on the street, the music will stop. Secondly, tracks are scattered all over the globe, so you’d have to be pretty dedicated to unlock them all. Hit us up if you have, because we’d like to shake your hand.
When revealing his new album, Positive Force, to fans, Steve Marion (a.k.a. Delicate Steve) launched a similar campaign to Dylan’s. The musician planted listening posts — little digital boxes sporting headphone jacks — all over New York, supplying fans with an online map of their locations.
Fans could visit each spot, plug in their headphones, and listen to a tune while, say, overlooking the headstones at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn (as this reporter did). Some listening posts were available at all hours of the day, others — located on food trucks and the like — were a little more mobile. All, however, were removed a month before the album’s official release, making the hunt an ephemeral experience, a guided tour of a city through Delicate Steve’s music.
BlueBrain won the O Music Award for Best SXSW Music App for their stellar location-aware album, The Violet Crown.
The Violet Crown is the third location-aware album that BlueBrain (a.k.a. Ryan and Hays Holladay) have created. Last October, the band launched an app for New York’s Central Park titled Listen To The Light that turned the park into a massive instrument, and their first offering, The National Mall (which could only be experienced at that national landmark), earned BlueBrain an O Music Award nomination for Best Music App.
All of these album apps only work when the user is strolling through a specific location (Austin, DC, Central Park). Sections of a landscape are tagged with snippets of a musical composition, and the app uses the phone’s GPS to alter that music as the listener travels across that location. So, in a sense, the location is the album.
The Violet Crown was the next chapter in the band’s series of location-specific albums, mapped to the landscape of the Austin, Texas, festival.
Image courtesy of Flickr, sameliaz8