In this blog I will look to innovative uses of music, whether it is genre-blending collaborations, music as therapy or, in the case of this particular entry, new ways of distributing music. A few days ago I read a press release regarding the ‘PlayButton’, which is, in principal, a memory stick that comes preloaded with an artist’s album and can be worn as a button badge, whilst the wearer listens to the album without having to go via a computer or any other playing device. I’m guessing that the idea came from the situation where someone is in their high-street record shop and is so excited to buy an album that they can’t wait to get home to listen to it, and the shop is not able to load the album on to the customers mp3 player of choice. There is the time gap between shop and home when the passion and excitement of buying the album can dwindle.
The main development of the idea comes from the wear-ability of the PushButton, which heralds back to the glory days of rock and rock, where avid fans would wear patches and button badges of their favourite bands to show their pride. I love this idea; why not show off the music that you love?
As much as I am excited by it, I feel that the wearable, one-album mp3 player is tragically flawed. After further reading it can be discovered that the contents are fully protected, meaning that they can not be put on to the user’s computer or transferred to their iPod, which in an increasingly material-protective industry is probably great news to record industry big-wigs, it does mean however, that where people are so used to having a band’s entire back catalogue just a couple clicks away, they will have to carry around a case of badges, making it a close relative of the mini disc.
So, in an attempt to conclude, I genuinely hope that bands and record labels look to PlayButtons as a format for limited editions (for collectors and to sell at concerts etc), but because of its logistical flaws, I cannot see it setting the world ablaze.
Matthew Park works in marketing at an arts organisation and is a singer/songwriter, as well as being a future-of-music enthusiast.