Could Augmented Reality Help Boost Album Sales?

In this essay I would like to begin a discussion on using augmented reality in the music industry. Specifically I want to address the use of augmented reality via the mobile phone in an effort to increase marketing awareness and sales of music. The music industry has seen dramatic decrease in album sales recently. In August of 2014 Billboard reported that weekly albums sales calculated by Nielsen Soundscan had fallen to the lowest ever (Christman & Peoples). I think integrating augmented objects in creative ways to bring place and meaning to albums could lead to a reinvention of the album to the modern day consumer.

The documentation of history using media can be dated back to stone tablets and cave paintings. Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks used papyrus as early as 3000 BCE (Paper History, n.d.). This began the use of portable media in written form. In 1440 Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press allowed for written media to be produced on a mass scale (Mumford, 2007). Samuel Morse submitted his patent for the first telegraph in 183 (Peterson, J. n.d.). Thirty-nine years later, in 1876, Alexander Bell submitted his patent for the telephone. Bells invention took off, by 1910 there were about 10 million telephone users (Goggin, 2006, pg 21-22). The landline had made its mark on society. Interestingly the mobile phone did not come into play until Martin Cooper made the first mobile telephone call on April 3, 1973 (Seward, Z. 2013). IBM introduced the first smartphone in 1992. That same year “Merry Christmas” became the first text message sent from Richard Jarvis on December 3, 1992 (Limer, 2012). Seven years later in 1999 Benefon, a mobile phone manufacturer, put the first GPS system into a mobile phone (Sullivan, 2012). These technological advances to the phone are what allowed it to become the social device it is today. The use of mobile phones is staggering. eMarketer predicted 4.55 billion mobile phone users in 2014 with 1.75 being smartphone users (eMarketer, 2014).

The mobile device has evolved and with it mobile media is becoming a hot topic specifically with augmented reality. Tony Liao and Lee Humphreys (2014) say augmented reality mixes virtual and real spaces. To be considered augmented reality the technology must be registered in three-dimensions, real-time, and interactive (p1). This technology allows for the annotation of place through a lens. In this case the mobile device is the lens. Upon an annotation of a place, the places meaning and understanding to society can be questioned and even transformed (Liao, 2015, Lecture). Liao believes using augmented reality allows for the reaction of space and the historicizing of events (Liao, 2015, Lecture). Layar is a mobile phone augmented reality app that allows the user to create and view augmented objects. Below is a video on how Layar works.

“Layar displays points of interest (POIs), user-created annotations, or

graphics based on the Global Positioning System (GPS) location of the device and orientation of the built-in camera, compass, and accelerometer” (Liao & Humpries, 2014, p6). Additionally, the app allows users to create augmented content and place it at different location geographically.

The music industry is having a problem with transitioning into modern day formats to deliver albums on. In 2014, people can purchase an album in a physical form or a digital form. Physically, albums can be bought in the form of vinyl, compact disc, cassette, and DVD. CD’s are the largest of this market but have been dwindling every year in America. In 2013 CD’s combined for 57.2% of the market, which is down from 61.2% in 2012, and 67.6% in 2011 (Caulfield, 2014). It was believed that digitally selling albums could prove to be the answer for the industry but recent trends tell a different story. At the end of 2013, Billboard released its annual end of the year music report announcing that digital sales had dropped a total of 6% from 2012 (Greenburg, 2014). Historically this is the first drop in digital sales since ITunes was introduced in 2001. With both digital and physical album sales declining, streaming saw an increase of 33% in 2013 (Greenburg). The problem with streaming is that plays do not bring in nearly the same amount of revenue as song buys, 1,500 to 1 according to Chris Molanphy (2014). This trend underlines that people do not care about ownership of music as much as the ongoing consumption do to the twenty-four hour media cycle our society now lives in.

In Liao’s lecture (2014) he points some interesting marking statistics found in Hidden Creative’s “Pepsi Challenge.” The challenge tested augmented reality advertising versus the traditional 2D advertising. Results of the study show that advertisements took one minute and twenty-three second to examine versus twelve second for 2D. Additionally, the study found a 74% willingness to buy an augmented reality advertised product compared to 45% in 2D. Finally, the perceived value of a product was £7.99 when AR advertising was used and £5.99 for 2D advertising (Laio, 2014, Lecture). This study shows that the use of augmented reality in advertisements keeps the viewers attention longer, increases the consumers’ willingness to buy a product, and raises the perceived value of the product.

Album sales have seen a decrease due the change of the consumer thinking brought on by media. Today consumers simply do not have the time or money to purchase an album in which they may only enjoy a couple tracks when they can get the whole album for free. To combat this the music industry must look to use technological advances that allow for electronic media to be used in a positive way for album sales. This requires a change in thinking from older models of album creation and distribution to more modern ones in which the consumer is interested in how the album is distributed and the artist interactivity as much as the content of the album. I believe the music industry could incorporate AR object technology to increase album sales. An example of one way to do this can be found in this video displaying DJ QBerts new album cover.

Non-traditional forms of marketing like using augmented objects can pave the way for artist and management to effective set budgets that will garner more revenue for albums. The augmentation of albums would make buying an album special again. It would also allow for extra content to be used on the space of the album. If geared right this content could include bonus content, music videos, and even new creative liner notes for albums. All of this would make the consumer more likely to buy the album.

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2 thoughts on “Could Augmented Reality Help Boost Album Sales?

  1. Hey Dwayne, you really put your work in for this paper. The history aspect of the paper is extensive and gives an overview of mobile media without feeling like a average history lesson. Your paper really started to shine when you started to bring together album sales, mobile media, and augmented reality. I think you have great ideas that would truly prove to be proficient if you applied them in a real-life scenario. You bring up plenty of interesting tangents regarding augmented reality and the recording industry and use real-life marketing statistics to back up your claims.. Both videos you use compliment the paper well and highlight the power of augmented reality in various forms. Altogether I think you put together a really thoughtful and coherent history of mobile media, augmented reality, and their modern applications.

  2. I found this digital essay to be a very unique approach on augmented reality. I have also noticed that album sales have gone down in the past few years because of how easy it is to stream music on mobile devices. I agree with you that AR could help increase album sales because of interactive features with album covers. This will give people a new experience that you cannot get if you just download the album online. I feel like these interactive features could also cause people to buy more physical copies of movies as opposed to illegally downloading them online.

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