Location Based Music: Choose Your Own Adventure

You know those serendipitous moments when your mobile music player, while set to shuffle, happens to play just the right music for your mood and environment? It’s as if the player knows where you are and which music could possibly enhance your experience. Those instances seem to happen by chance (well, that and your apparently brilliant taste in music). But what happens when the artist intends for those moments to occur–for the music to augment your experience in a particular environment?

Over the past few years, musicians have been experimenting with location-based services (LBS) as a marketing tool to target local ads and promotions. More recently, however, we’ve seen apps integrate music and location so that musicians are able to connect with their listeners to create a more personalized listener experience. For instance, apps like SoundTracking and Herd.fm allow bands and fans to upload, discover and share new music (and photos) based on their locations.

Taking this concept of music and LBS to another level, is a Washington D.C.-based band called BlueBrain. They recently created their second location-based album/app called Central Park (Listen to the Light) that augments the listener’s reality based on location (their first app of this kind was released in May 2011 for D.C.’s National Mall).

For their latest album/app, BlueBrain created an app designed to be listened to in a specific location–Central Park. First, the user downloads the app/album to their iPhone or iPad. Then, according to the app description, as the user moves through the park, the app “tracks their location via the iPhone’s built-in GPS capabilities; the melody and rhythm of the music varies in accordance with the user’s path.” The album/app builds on the rich layer of metadata surrounding the user’s location (i.e., route, speed, topography) to create a unique experience every time–a kind of Choose Your Own (Listening) Adventure.

Watch this short documentary to learn more about their process:

As I see it, BlueBrain has upped the game for LBS usage, allowing this technology to brings awareness into a space that not only connects the listener to the music, but also connects the listener to their environment. It will be interesting to see where artists take this concept of integrating art with LBS. This pairing is clearly an emerging opportunity for the music industry, opening up a whole new world of possibilities to create more personalized and note-worthy experiences for listeners.

What do you think of this marriage of music and LBS? Do you like the idea of having your music adapt to your surroundings, or are you content with playing what you you want when you want it, knowing that it’s not going to change in the process?

(Photo via Washington Post)

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