Musicians & Apps: Waste or Worth It?

Published on December 11, 2013

With the release of last month's "ARTPOP", Lady Gaga ventured into fan interaction territory that few others have dared to brave: mobile applications (or apps for short). In light of album sales at a disappointing slump at the moment, popular artists and their labels are constantly attempting new methods with which to reinvigorate the music market. Considering the labeling of the millennial generation audience as being rather un-involved in music, it's no wonder labels are jumping through hoops in attempts to garner audience attention for longer periods of time. Gaga is the latest of these music heavyweights to utilize app technology. Her "ARTPOP" app, which is available to download on both Android and iOS devices, was released in an effort to celebrate the release of her third album. The app allows users and self proclaimed "little monsters" to build their own "aura" and interact with other fans while listening to the "ARTPOP" album. Fans have responded positively to the ideas and ambition behind this app, which is where the project excels. Sadly, the follow-through isn't as fantastic. Gaga's new software program faced multiple problems, all stemming from technological glitches.

However, Gaga's app isn't the only one to face troubles upon arrival. The pursuit of music as a more alluring and engaging experience has also caused Forbes Cash King Jay Z to experiment with the format as well. The newly de-hyphenated rapper famously sold a million copies of "Magna Carta Holy Grail" to Samsung before it was available for mass consumption. Samsung in turn distributed the album for free on a mobile app exclusively for Samsung Galaxy owners. The album, which was supposed to be available for download immediately at midnight on the 4th of July, was plagued by software issues. It took multiple hours for fans to get their download versions of the album. The midnight release ended up being remembered as a sloppy ordeal by many, including the fans.

J. Cole also participated in the craze for his "Born Sinner" LP. The young MC released an application which allowed users in certain locations to stream his album before its official debut. This method faced far less problems than the previously aforementioned programs (which is probably due to the smaller of fan users compared to Jay Z and Gaga).

The Black Eyed Peas were notably unsuccessful with their 360 app, which basically used the camera function of any mobile device to place an animated version of the peas before the user. Nicki Minaj attempted to take a bite out of the app industry with the release of her "Nictionary", which gave definitions to absurd and cooky words that only a true "barb" would know. Snoop Lion fans will be happy to know that there is a "Snoopify" app that adds weed culture related touch-ups to any personal photos.

What's important to note is the fact that the apps, which seem to do best, are often ones that allow exclusive content related directly to new music. Jay Z, Gaga, and J. Cole got it right on that level. Surely the other apps are intriguing, but don't expect any kind of memorable success with the projects if they don't give users access to exclusive music content. Otherwise, leave the music apps to Tap Tap Revenge.

By Jose Cadena

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