No, it’s not April 1st 2010. This gave me pause. Lou Reed, he of the The Velvet Underground, of Metal Machine Music, of Andy Warhol’s Factory, Nico collaborator, of Transformer, bi-pal of David Bowie, the list goes on… has delivered an iPhone app, the Lou Zoom!
It’s a strange step, and here’s why. It’s not because Lou Reed is an iconic rock star who’s bands and music changed the face of rock music decades ago - as Brian Eno said about The Velvet Underground.. “although few people bought the album, most of those who did were inspired to form their own band.” And it’s not because I begrudge Lou the chance to cash in on his brand by selling an iPhone app. No, it’s because the app is not a creative move for Reed, it doesn’t add a jot to his pantheon of work. It doesn’t change the game, move the needle, or inspire me in anyway possible. Worse, the app seems to be a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist. Unless, that is, you have diminished eyesight as a product of old age. Put down those bifocal’s boomers, Lou’s fixed things for you - no more pinching and scrolling on the iPhone screen, now he brings you LARGE LETTERS AND NUMBERS. As the app description goes, “Dramatically set in Helvetica Neue type, this contemporary take on classic Modernist design turns heads as quickly as it dials phone numbers.”
Finding this yesterday made me consider that this last decade in music and how musicians struggle with technology, is rather nicely summed up with this app release. It’s a sad footnote to what could have been a decade of major opportunity for musicians, artists and record labels. Instead, what we see looking back for the music industry in general is a wasteland that wouldn’t look out of place in the movie The Road. As we enter 2010, it’s worth considering what Seth Godin has to say about the past 10 years - “The internet transformed our lives forever. Opportunities were created (and many were taken advantage of). And, like every decade, just about everyone missed it.” Read the rest here.