When MTV launched oh so many years ago, the genuine revolution in music creation and consumption opened with the Buggles' catchy and clever "Video Killed the Radio Star." The self-styled launch of a new model for music video apps arrived this week with a much less promising ante -- the Black-Eyed Peas' BEP360. I admit that I am the last one to criticize anyone's musical taste. My family complains regularly that I have to revise the playlist on the iPod that runs through the car stereo, "because the Keith Richards' guitar opening to 'Street Fighting Man' stopped being cool fifty plays ago," they like to say. "There has been a lot of good music made in the last four decades, Dad."
Yeah, okay, but BEP's "The Time (Dirty Bit)" is not among the classics I have missed. That single and video form the core of band member will.i.am's BEP360 app for iPhone/iPod and iPad. Purporting to represent the next stage in music video formats and distribution, the app has a 360-degree view music video. That means that the apps use the internal compass on the iOS devices to let you shift the view on the video as it plays to give the viewer a kind of surround screen effect.
One can imagine the effect being put to creative use, while that isn't the case here. Generally we just get multiple screens of the BEP crew singing their parts and different views of the obligatory dancing crowd. A couple of twists of the iPhone or iPad and you see about all that is interesting to see. But imagine if one of the more creative narrative-driven videos of old were done with the 360-effect. We could see characters reacting to new people come into the room and then swivel our view to see what they are seeing?
The BEP360 app, which sells for $2.99, is less apt to redefine the music video than it is to
open a new mode for artist singles. This first production from will.i.am's will.i.apps media company pours other media into the mix that creates a more
convincing, value-added single. The iPhone app has an augmented reality component that you aim at BEP's latest record cover to see a dancing will.i.am cartoon superimposed on the scene. The 360 effect
is used to show a photo shoot of the BEP members. A BEP Twitter feed aggregates the postings from the band members. And you can access user-uploaded geo-tagged images made from the app by others via a
globe interface. The app execution is neater than the music video at its core. The app demonstrates one way that the music industry can start leveraging the technology to deliver more engagement and
value to fans.
Now if they could just start making good music.