Tuesday 21 November 2017

Song never remains the same

Niall Byrne

A couple of weeks ago Digital featured Danger Mouse and Danielle Luppi's impressive WebGL video which was made to promote their new album Rome. As was noted then, artists have to do something fresh, new and different these days to get their music noticed.

Step forward Gwilym Gold. The former frontman of London's promising band Golden Silvers has gone solo and, to mark the occasion, he has released his first single Flesh Freeze as a downloadable app using a new musical format called Bronze (bronzeformat.com). Far away from his former band's sprightly indie-pop music, the new track is a downbeat ambient song with Gold's vocals pushing things along. Flesh Freeze does not have a conventional arrangement. A perfect song for some experimentation then.

The Bronze format is described as "a non-interactive music format, that transforms every aspect of a song, to create a unique version on each listen". The result is that no two listens of the song are exactly the same. Vocals will not always follow the same order, the drum pattern may change, synth lines will appear and disappear: the arrangement and playback is always unique.

Gold himself conceived the idea and implemented Bronze with the help of his producer Lexxx and scientists from London's Goldsmiths university. The non-static song is available for Mac only at the moment with iPhone, Android and PC coming soon at gwilymgold.com. More music in the Bronze format is forthcoming.

On the opposite side of the scale, Lady Gaga was practically giving away her new album Born This Way upon release early last week. Not only had Gaga made myriad deals with games companies, fashion brands, a huge global coffee chain and eh, the Google Chrome browser (full list -- bit.ly/gagadeals), Born This Way was also for sale on Amazon in the US for just $0.99. It was an odd devaluing move, as Gaga fans are notoriously loyal and would happily buy her music at full price.

As it transpired, the deal backfired as Gaga's little monsters managed to slow Amazon's servers to a crawl, resulting in lots of negative comments and annoyed fans. Ultimately, this was a bad deal for Amazon who were using it to promote their cloud music service Cloud Player. Fans complained that the service didn't download all of the album's songs and their purchases were inaccessible in the cloud too.

Amazon also seemingly lost a lot of money too as they paid Gaga's label Interscope/Universal $7.40 for units it sold at $0.99. According to Billboard magazine (bit.ly/gaganums), the cut-price album was downloaded about 430,000 times, resulting in a campaign which lost Amazon $2.75 million in two days.

The debacle was also bad news for Apple and Google who recently launched their own cloud music service. You need people such as Gaga's fans to be introduced to the concept of cloud-based music, but if it appears unreliable, as it did during this campaign, then consumers will be unlikely to give it a second chance.

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