About 10 years ago I bought the url insidethemusic.co.uk I was working on elearning for musicians at the time and the aims for the site were two-fold; host music theory and aural learning materials, and explore a way of presenting a song that got inside the music, with the sort of detail and background that gave a guided tour of how a song was created and produced, how it works. The song I used to experiment was Shooting Star, by Tinman.
My ham-fisted effort had so many big media files that it only practically worked on CD rom, with a hugely cut-down version for the web. It probably doesn’t even work properly in some web browsers and I was focusing on information relevant to music students, rather than music fans. I wasn’t sure where I was going with it but I had a feeling that the music industry needed to adapt how it presents (sells) music in an increasingly multi-media world. DVDs came with bonus material, credits, behind the scenes features and alternative sound tracks; music came in stereo, with a video if you were lucky. And for digital music, you didn’t even get a CD inlay with all its imagery, lyrics and credits. Then it got worse; the music-loving public spontaneously decided that music in its simple form (an mp3) didn’t actually have much monetary value and traditional music sales declined. Ever since, we have been seeking new models to monetize music.
We still consume masses of music, and we still have an enormous passion for it and the people that make it. I picked up on Twitter comments that bemoaned the lack of alternatives to the CD inlay for digital music – information that was genuinely attached to the music file and my thoughts returned to my efforts 10 years ago with insidethemusic.co.uk In the meantime, soundcloud came up with an enormously muso-friendly way of presenting music online, with timed comments
and YouTube introduced annotations.
What has given new impetus to the search for a new model is mobile computing and the mighty app. Suddenly your online experience has become more personal as the big clunky computer or laptop was bypassed by our in-your-hand, personal online devices – predominantly the iphone and ipad.
There is already at least one new file format in development – MusicDNA. And a Guardian article earlier this year looked at more.
So I offer a prediction here: shortly, an app will be available that plays music on your mobile device with all the information about it, attached. Credits, imagery, videos, lyrics, tour information, merchandise, behind the scenes interviews and information, tab, chord charts, re-mix data, alternative mixes. All of this exists now, probably, but in disparate places. We like our entertainment brought together onto one stage. And this app will become as ubiquitous as iTunes.