Top 10 Music Technology Concepts

With the music industry having to contort itself to the whim of the buyer for the first time possibly in its’ entire history the marketing departments of various labels have been working hard to keep up with demand and keep the buyer interested.  Releasing things on YouTube, Myspace, etc just doesn’t cut it any more – as for just releasing a CD via a regular poster campaign, PAH! Here’s a top 10 of what I’ve liked over the past 12 months or so.

1. Batch Totem – retro floppy disk format release for “Trunkeret & Ikonisk”.. I love this – as everyone and their performing chimps are trying to find new and innovative ways to release music this band have released an album on the near-obselete floppy disk format, managing to cram 74 minutes of music into 1.44MB of space. “Trunkeret & Ikonisk” consists of 19 tracks, which are heavily compressed in the GSM 6.10 WAV format, at various bitrates. The album is on the Ristretto label, and could be bought online via PayPal but it has sold out. “The scope of the project is to use heavy compression as a feature that shapes the music, instead of a limitation that reduces sound quality.”, says Jonas Olesen (he is Batch Totem). The files require no extra codecs to be installed. It has been composed with the format in mind, in order to take advantage of the very limited quality of recordings at such a low bit rate.  “Another feature about the album is that, if you try to convert it into MP3 or another format, the timbre and structure will be drastically altered – a kind of radical ‘copy-protection’!” According to the band’s website, on certain tracks, the “amplitude and low bitrates produce ‘ghost’ frequencies according to the Nyquist theorem, and the algorithm of the audio codec meaning that very high frequencies and white noise can occur at very low bitrates.”  Bonkers and Brilliant!

2. NIN – Multimedia Scavenger Hunt (ARG – Alternative Reality Game) for “Year Zero”.  For Nine Inch Nails’ sixth studio release, Year Zero took and pushed the ‘concept album’ idea as far as it could. In advance of its release, URLs were hidden in tour t-shirts, music and image filled USB drives were ‘found’ at concerts and dozens of websites were packed with conspiracy stories that all involve the year 2022 or ‘Year Zero.’ “Each clue was a part of a cohesive whole, requiring the listener to follow an exhaustive web trail to grasp the entire tale.”  Trent is genius, nuff said.

In Rainbows 3. Radiohead – Pay What You Want for “In Rainbows”.  The honesty Box payment idea by the Indie Rockers for their first album post-EMI which, apparently 3 out of 5 people are said to have opted not to pay anything for.  The success of the idea is still uncertain but the likes of Trent Reznor have stated an interest in a similar release idea.

Daft-Punk 4. Daft Punk – Social Network Widget for “Alive”.  The electronic duo decided to promote their new live album, Alive, with an embeddable widget which allows visitors to listen to previews of new tracks, buy the single, read their bio and newsletter, and see a photo gallery of the band – without helmets I’m guessing.

5. Beck – DIY album cover for “The Information”.  Actually released in Oct 2006 but I still love the idea of a practically blank cd cover and specially commissioned stickers so that you can design the sleeve.  I’m still waiting for the promised DIY album that he mused about a few years ago where the punter will get the seperate tracks (drums, vocals, bass, etc) and then you make the tune.

6. Laura Marling – song box release with gig “ticket” code.  Laura Marling has announced that her as-yet-untitled debut album, to be released on February 4, 2008, will be released in a special ‘song box’ format. The package will contain the CD album, entry to a gig in the form of a redeemable code, plus ‘momentos’ relating to each song on the album. The package will sell for £19.99 and can be pre-ordered from Marling’s official website.  I think that it would be kinda neat if the code was in the form of a bar-code that you could save onto your mobile – just like the Midlands Mainline sms barcode ticket.

7. Radiohead – Back catologue on Limited Edition USB.  So as not to be outdone by their ex-signees, Radiohead, EMI released a set of all of the band’s past studio albums and one live album in a number of formats, including uncompressed WAV files on a custom Radiohead Bear USB drive. The 4GB drive is loaded with the seven albums as well as digital artwork.  One for the collectors.


 8. Kylie’s social networking site “Kylie Konnect”.  The Pop Star launched her cross-platform social network, Kylie Konnect. Kylie’s record label, Parlophone, worked with New Visions Mobile, to create the application, which enables the singer’s fans to create their profile, upload images and blogs and connect with other Kylie fans across the globe via their mobile or web browser. “Whilst other social networking sites allow fans to create their own profiles online, sideloading images and video from their phones to the PC, OurTribe allows users to create and manage their pages directly from their mobile handset”.  Just an interactive fan-site then?


 9. Disney – CDVU+ format.  This is a “new technology” created by the Walt Disney Company. It is essentialy a revamped version of the Compact Disc, and will include multimedia “Extras” on the disc. New features such as “digital magazine extras” like band photos, interviews, lyrics, and exclusive photos will be accessed by inserting the disc into a computer.  Disney, in an attempt to promote CDVU+ is stated to develop unique content for the format and not just repackage already-available media. Basically an enhanced CD by the sounds of things to me.


10. Matchbox 20 – USB bracelet for “Exile on Mainstream”.   Available exclusively at Best Buy it includes all 17 songs from the album , the music video for “How Far We’ve Come”, another video with band interviews, a digital booklet with album art and other band items to customize your computer.   This was kinda half-hearted I feel.

 So?  Waddaya think?

 Well, there’s my list.  Have I missed something out?  Was there a brilliant marketing idea that I’m not aware of (can’t have been that good heh!)?  Would you have put these 10 in a different order?  Let me know.