Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Post #100!

Well, since it's very, very likely that no one is as excited about this as I am, for good reason, I'm not going to dwell on the fact that this is my 100th post on this blog.

I'm really here to write a little about creative uses of the iPhone I came across. For a while now, musicians have been putting out apps to promote their music. They've had interesting ideas too.

Death Cab for Cutie, for example, has a Death Cab app that provides in-app music and video streaming, including 9 songs that you can listen to (when you have an internet connection). Lyrics, album art, tour dates, and photos are also included. For sure, this stuff is mostly for people who are already fans, but it's nice of them to give these freebies out.

The band Nine Inch Nails has an app called "nin: access," which has a rather interesting community aspect to it. From the app description:

- Engage in location-based conversation and share photos with other NIN fans around the world.
- Access the latest NIN news and blog updates.

- Listen to a variety of streaming NIN music, including exclusive playlists and thousands of fan-created remixes.

- View, save, and share images and videos from’s vast fan-supported media archive.

- Get exclusive free wallpaper images formatted for iPhone & iPod Touch.
- Access to’s thriving forums.

- Login with your free account, or create a new one directly from the app.

- Send & receive private messages and view user profiles.

True, this stuff is mainly for marketing purposes but I think it's a fantastic way to keep the fans more involved while on the go. It provides a level of interactivity I haven't seen before in the realm of cell phone and fandom. I'm not a fan of NIN, but if I were, I'd probably love this app.

Finally, the oddest one I've seen is the Coldplay app, designed around their new single Strawberry Swing. Like the other apps, it requires an internet connection even to open the app, and once in, requires a connection to receive ads (hey, how else do you think this thing is free?), stream the Strawberry Swing music video, and submit your high scores.

That's right, there's a game. But not just one game: three games. Marketing at its craziest. See, in the video, the main guy (presumably frontman Chris Martin) is some kind of Superman-esque superhero, flying through the sky, swimming through dangerous waters, and walking through the clouds to rescue the "Princess" from the diabolical Squirrel King. It's really a really neat, artsy video, and I'd recommend checking it out if you haven't. Well, that cartoony edge to the video really lends itself to cheap promotional video game creation.

All three games are locked when you first get the app. Once you watch the music video, the first game is unlocked. Playing through the first game once unlocks the second game, and one playthrough of the second game unlocks the third. The first game is a clone of just about every game that came out when the iPhone app store first opened: you tilt your device left or right to move the guy, flying through the air, avoiding biplanes and collecting stars and umbrellas. At the end of the stage, you have to dodge the Squirrel King's arrows.

In the second game you're swimming under water. Once again you tilt the device to move him up, down, left, or right, collecting stars and keys (same as umbrellas, to be honest) and avoiding junk that has fallen into the ocean, like hat racks and dressers (yeah, hat racks).

The third game is a side scrolling platformer where you (yup, you guessed it) collect stars. But also there are skeletons. You jump on their heads and they fall apart, allowing you to pick up the skull to use as a weapon on the next skeleton that comes along.

The app is free, but if you believe that Time is Money, then the time I spent playing these cheap promo tricks is probably worth more to me than the "nothing" that I paid for this app. In other words, try it out if you're curious, but all the while keep in mind that you're not really supposed to be having fun while playing. Instead, you're supposed to be wanting to buy the music video on iTunes, or better yet, buy the album that Strawberry Swing is on.