Will the App Replace the Album?

Lady Gaga’s Artpop album/app combo debuts this November, and Jay-Z’s latest album was released as an app to a number of Samsung customers, which has everyone wondering if the app will ever come close to replacing the album. Even David Gilmour and Calvin Harris, names not exactly synonymous with the avant garde, unlike Gaga and Jay-Z, who both have a flair for the modern art and drama. Not that Harris and Gilmour aren’t willing to change, or even trendy, but they are odd names to see attached to the switch.

The largest problem with the album-as-app concept is that, if everyone releases their album as a separate app, you’ll be inundated with apps, and have no way to mix and match your favorite songs from different albums into a playlist, at least not without a third-party app developed for that specific purpose. And that just means another app to add to the collection. Logistically, the app album is a nightmare, as coding an app isn’t as trivial matter as we might want to believe. It is far more likely that the app will be the new concert DVD, or the new deluxe box-set album, rather than the new CD, as the app will always be an extra. What you want when you buy an album on iTunes, or even as a CD, is the music. You don’t need any of the flair that comes with a box-set, you don’t need to see taped performances, and you don’t need any of the numerous peripherals that the music apps are said to have. All you want, when it comes down to it, is the ability to play the music whenever you want, in as convenient a fashion as possible. We already have that.
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