Music Apps—From Bizarre to VR

Written by Ryan Jebavy • Photography by Andrew Chin / Contributor, Getty Images • December 28, 2016

As technology continues to revolutionize the music industry, artists are finding more innovative avenues of connecting with fans than ever before. Virtual reality is exploding, and at this point many artists are leaving behind traditional formats such as CDs and LPs in favor of the latest groundbreaking technology and delivery methods—one of the most accessible being the music app.

Multimedia apps offer a wide variety of interaction possibilities through gameplay, storytelling, education and sound experimentation. From Radiohead's PolyFauna to Björk's Biophilia to Lady Gaga's ARTPOP, the user is invited to take the artist’s music and personalize it in ways that are sometimes beguiling and progressively imaginative. Groups like Massive Attack have released apps (in their case, Fantom) that allow users to take full control of the music with remixing options based on incredibly personal specifications, like their heartbeat and location.

Apps like The Roots' undun and John Lennon: Bermuda Tapes also give users a more in-depth look at the story behind the album, creating an immersive environment for both enjoyment and learning. And then there’s The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience, a VR experiment by Google Play and Queen that offers a first-person perspective of performing with the legendary rock band.

And while some apps are less about immersion and more about exclusive content (like Beyoncé's Live at Roseland), others curiously blur the line between the artist's finite creation and an experimental, ever-changing instrumentation of sorts, offering a digital space in which to intuitively create sound to go with a variety of transforming visual art, such as Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers' suite of apps including Bloom, Trope and Scape.

So what can we expect from here? There will undoubtedly continue to be a combination of exclusive footage, interactive content and innovation that defies categorization. But if Björk's recent 360-degree virtual app Stonemilker is any indicator of things to come, VR is going to play a major role. Artists are already releasing VR music videos such as The Weeknd's "The Hills" remix feat. Eminem), and through apps like YouTube and up-and-coming innovators like VRTIFY, VR music video content will command ever-growing audiences. It's a brave new rockin' world.

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