"Hey, it's almost time for the Grammy Awards again!" These words normally lull us to sleep, because too often the "Grammys," as they're usually called, seem hopelessly out of touch. To some, a Grammy award can almost become a reason not to listen to something. But with this year's nominees including Arcade Fire, Cee Lo, Gorillaz, Esperanza Spalding and others in addition to the usual crew of Bieber, Gaga, etc. -- and a forward-looking music app to boot -- the 53rd Grammy Awards (February 13) appear to be making a real bid for relevance.
The Grammy Awards partnered with Rdio, the socially-oriented music subscription service, to create a MusicMapper app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, and Andoid, as well as a web-app version of the same. Using these apps, Grammy viewers can create a musical diary of sorts (much like the one we envisioned in our Untapped Apps feature), matching songs to places, creating a log of their "musical journey" that they can share with friends via Facebook or Twitter.
Meanwhile, an augmented reality feature lets you see what other users near you have tagged by pointing your phone in any direction. The app also allows users to track their own journeys over time, and scan QR codes embedded on Grammy's print campaigns.
If you're an Rdio subscriber, or your free Rdio trial hasn't expired yet, you can hear full songs using the apps, according to Rdio founder Drew Larner; otherwise, you can access 30-second samples of the songs mentioned. We really like the idea of a location-enabled musical diary, and the Grammy Awards are wise, considering who their members are, to use a pure music service such as Rdio for this instead of embedding music from YouTube, as so many other apps do.
On the surface, this might look like a transparent attempt to attract a younger viewership more accustomed to finding music from up and coming bands on the web than to waiting for an award show to tell them what to buy. However, Grammy chief marketing officer Evan Greene told Evolver.fm, the kids have been tuning into the Grammy Awards more and more:
"From a relevance and resonance standpoint, if you look at the viewership of the Grammys telecast over the last several years... [it is] up significantly, and that's turning into what we hope to be a consistent trend. One of the most important things that we're doing right is engaging the digital music ecosystem online and through mobile, in ways that are very organic and respectful."
In terms of Rdio's progress, Lerner told Evolver.fm that most of its subscribers choose to pay $10 for the mobile app version of the service, rather than $5 for the web-only version and explained how Grammy and Rdio came together for this project.
"[The Grammy Awards] see something interesting, as we do, in social and sharing, and location-based apps are all the rage at the moment," explained Lerner. "So they came up with this idea for the MusicMapper, and came to us because we're an up-and-coming service, and they thought what we were doing is innovative. What they're doing is a literal extension of what we're doing in terms of music-sharing, so it was a very easy and quick conversation."
Who would have thought that the music industry's premiere award show would base its marketing campaign around music sharing? 2011 is shaping up to be quite a strange year indeed.
To coincide with the announcement of The Grammy Award nominees, the website, and the MusicMapper application will allow fans worldwide to connect songs to special memories and places in a way never before possible.
This mobile application lets a user select a song powered by Rdio, tag it to a specific location using maps, and then attach a note describing how song and location define a special moment in the user's life.
Users can explore each others' MusicMapper tags as well as Grammy-curated exclusive content, geo-located tweets, Flickr photos and Foursquare check-ins at music venues.