Telling Stories With The New Album Cover

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Almost since the first mp3 crawled out of the primordial digital ooze and stood upright on the Napster protocontinent, people have been bemoaning the end of music’s incarnation as a physical object, something you could touch and hold. Even if you can carry your whole music collection in your iPod wherever you go, I think most of us miss album art and liner notes, and have been hoping that someone would take advantage of the internet to create some kind of new dynamic/graphic/video wrapper for music, something that would recognize how central the old LP cover was to the whole music experience and recreate it – on steroids – for the 21st century.
As you might know, artists, record companies and web operations are already creating countless variations on just this theme, from the most basic myspace page to the album-as-iphone-app. However, in digital music, hitting the jackpot consists of getting all the tiny details just right, and somebody who seems to have “just right” c.2008/9 dialled is storytlr.
Storytlr is essentially a lifestreaming service, which goes out and grabs all your data – twitter posts, flickr streams, blog posts, etc. – from across the web, and then aggregates it all in one place – your storytlr page. That’s cool, but there are already several different services that do that. The part that I like, and which applies to the whole “what’s-the-next-album-going-to-be” discussion we’re having here, is that you can also take a snapshot of this lifestream at a given moment in time to create a “story”. Check this one out.
As you can see, this is essentially a gussied-up photo essay, using flickr stills, youtube video and twitter posts (okay, “tweets”) to tell…a story, about a hike in the English countryside. What if you used the same elements to create a story about your new album, or even a single?
You could gather tweets, video and stills from the entire rehearsing, gigging and recording process, and then post the story of the music on your website. Bingo! An attractive, engrossing, multimedia story wrapped around your music that is relatively simple to create. Listeners could hear the song, browse photos, watch videos showing how the song came together, read lyrics, etc. Of course, all of these elements are already common on artist websites, but there’s something about stitching them all together like this that creates more of a coherent narrative, and strikes a balance between the listener empowerment engendered by the web and the creative intent of the artist.
I’m very excited about this, and you can definitely expect to see one of these stories from me when I launch my next release.
What do you think? Is this an interesting idea? Do you see a future for this, or would this be an attempt to stuff a digital peg into an analog hole? Leave your $.02 in the comments…


5 thoughts on “Telling Stories With The New Album Cover

  • Excellent post ! Great to see people thinking about creative uses of storytlr ! (I’m one of the developer). I really like your idea, it also fits other posts I’ve seen on people willing to use this to communicate the preparation of a theater play, or a movie, and link with the community well before release.
    One idea I find also interesting is not to look at your story, but to invite users to post stories that link to your music, maybe stories where your music would be the soundtrack. When I look at a story I made, or at my life in general, I always like to think of what the perfect soundtrack would be.
    Coming up on storytlr, ability to add a track as background music for their story.
    Looking forward to see what you’ll come up with, don’t hesitate to contact us if you miss features, need help.

  • Hey eschnou – thanks for the comment, and I’m even more psyched to hear about the ability to add a track as background music: that’ll really be the finishing touch for my idea.
    Your concept of inviting users to put their own stories together featuring other peoples’ content is a killer – actually much better than what I was considering. Now I’m_really_looking forward to finishing this song and putting a story together!

  • well, this sounds like a great idea… I have been needing a place to store all my tweets! Well, not really. But I am interested in seeing how you work with this. It is like an album cover, but on super duper steroids since there is no limit on the size or type of information you can share. It must be hard to stick to the music end of things..

  • great post. i guess i miss the album inserts but my life doesnt feel empty without them. although, i remember as a kid loving when a band would put their lyrics in a foldout as part of the tape cover.

  • What I miss most is actually the deep detail of the liner notes, things like which studio the music was recorded at, who played the cowbell on track six, and who the mixing engineer was. Serious music geek stuff.
    Plus, music really does seem to have less value when decoupled from a physical object, somehow.

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