Back in the Olden Dayes, albums came as vinyl albums. Then came 8-tracks, cassettes and CDs. By the early 90s, albums were starting to go digital, albeit illegally. It wasn’t until we were well into the 21st century that would could easily buy digital representations of them.
But there’s another music format that should be on this list: album apps. Although not as well known as the other formats on this list, maybe they should be. Complex magazine takes a look:
Is the album app the future of the music industry? Well, probably not. On the whole, singles sales are where the money is; album sales are at their lowest point since 1991. When it comes down to it, the kids just aren’t buying them. Apps aren’t liable to upend the game, but they are innovative in other ways, offering musicians an opportunity to promote their records more effectively, to reach more people, and to be, well, more than just music.
Raising the bar are people like Björk, whose recent album app, Biophilia, was added to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and Jay Z, whose Samsung app helped the rapper go platinum in seconds. As well as a little known duo named Bluebrain, who made a 264-part choose-your-own-adventure tracklist that shifted depending on your geographic location. That barely scrapes the surface of possibilities—doubtless there are plenty of examples we don’t even know about, apps in development, and new ways of bridging the divide between music and technology. An app may not turn album sales around, but it allows fans who want to invest more in the process the chance to get even more out of an artist’s work.
Here’s a closer look at some of the most interesting album-apps we’ve seen to date.