Music app is 'magic meeting technology'

Published: 8 July 2015 at 14:15

Academics develop new interactive format which allows users to remix albums

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University researchers are launching a new interactive app which could help deliver a solid financial future for the music industry – as well as fun for the listener!

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, academics at Anglia Ruskin University and the London College of Music (University of West London) have developed the new album app, which allows the listener to explore and ‘remix’ the music as they listen.

The academics have been working with the music artist Daisy and The Dark to create the new format, which has a number of touch screen functions which allow the user to manipulate the playback and sonic structure of the music.

With record labels being squeezed through cheap digital downloads, online streaming services and illegal file sharing, the academics believe they have produced a format that consumers will be happy to pay for and will prove difficult to pirate.

Dr Rob Toulson, Director of the Cultures of the Digital Economy (CoDE) research institute at Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“With so much ‘free’ music now out there, we wanted to develop a commercial format that the music fan would be happy to buy.  Therefore we needed to create something unique, something that wasn’t already available through conventional platforms.

“Secondly we wanted to design a format that allows musicians to connect more closely with their fans through recorded music.  We wanted to allow fans to ‘get inside the music’ and explore the building blocks of the songs.”

The album app includes artwork, song lyrics, production credits, artist biography and other visual media that was previously synonymous with the vinyl format, allowing the musician to showcase their creative vision within a single digital platform. 

However, the feature Dr Toulson believes will most appeal is the ability to manipulate the playback and structure of the music, allowing users to switch to acoustic or even karaoke versions at the swipe of a finger.

He added:

“Listeners can modify the playback of a song, for example to hear a stripped back acoustic version or maybe a more upbeat dance version.  The interface is intelligent and seamless, giving the user a unique experience that can change with their mood.
“They can mute the vocals and enjoy an instrumental version, or take away the drums and play along, or solo the piano so they can focus in and learn to play the song.  We will use the public launch to test which interfaces and app features get the best user response.  
“We think it will lead to people engaging with the music at a deeper level – and make listening an active as opposed to passive, background experience – meaning they will return to the app and listen more often.  The album app could prove to be an important development for the commercial music industry.”

The app uses the alternative-pop music of Daisy and The Dark, and is a key distribution platform for the release of the new Red Planet EP.  The music is produced by singer/songwriter Sarah Kayte Foster who describes the app as “magic meeting technology”.  

For the interactive features, Sarah produced 12 alternate versions of the four EP tracks.  She said:

“We wanted to create an experience where the digital listener feels like they have a visual and physical relationship with music again.”

Other collaborators on the album app project include Script Ltd and Grammy award-winning mastering engineer Mandy Parnell (Bjork, Aphex Twin, The XX) of Black Saloon Studios.

Daisy and The Dark’s Red Planet EP is officially released on 10 July on CD and download, as well as iPhone/iPad album app formats.  For an initial period the album app will be available to download free of charge to encourage music fans to try out the new format.

Click here for further details of the Daisy and The Dark app.  More information about Anglia Ruskin’s CoDE research institute is available here.