Sunday, October 27, 2013

Free Dylan App Now Available and Way Cool

The new Dylan app...
First off, I’m still hooked on Another Self Portrait, a.k.a. The Bootleg Series Vol. 10. What an amazing collection of outtakes that continues to deliver an emotional punch both elegant and tender.

Now the marketing minds behind the Bob Dylan enterprise have made available an incredible new product for fans and potential future fans, a free downloadable iOS app with over 500 content elements including exclusive interviews, histories and photo galleries to accompany the 36 rare tracks for this tenth volume of the Bootleg Series.

Tonight I had a chance to check it out first hand. Each track has a visual timeline with little blue dots that you can click on to get connected to video interviews by people associated with Dylan and the development in these works. It’s unbelievable what the technology is capable of.

Evidently for the past many years efforts have been made (and are continuing to this day) to assemble high definition videos of all the musicians and producers who have had anything to do with all facets of Bob Dylan’s career. This particular app is only the beginning of a massive, far-reaching compilation of material designed to share inside perspectives on Dylan’s creative oeuvre in the context of his times, which have been changing.

...courtesy Nelson French.
From a marketing point of view it’s brilliant. I half wonder if the seed of this concept was planted back in the 80’s when Dylan performed with the Grateful Dead whose non-trademarked method of enabling concerts to be recorded and shared freely served to ensure their music’s broadest distribution. Today, Dylan has wedded this concept of free distribution to the most advanced technology in order to share new insights regarding the work he created decades ago.

OK, you don't really get all the music free. You get a free song and lots of content, and if you have the 3-CD set of Another Self Portrait, you sync that in and get the full package. (Who among  Dylan fans does not have this album already?)

On the app you can see nine blanks where future batches of content will be inserted. The plan is to have similar insights produced for every one of his bootleg series collections. It’s quite awesome. According to “You can unlock all 36 tracks plus the live Isle of Wight performance inside the app by adding your copy of 'Another Self Portrait’ to your iOS device.”

I can imagine that this might be just the incentive for some people who have otherwise been on the fence to finally get a Smartphone. (I’m referring to myself here.)

For the record, if you have not been to lately, it's really expanded over the years. I used to go regularly just for the lyrics to his songs. It's now become a powerful marketing weapon. I can imagine a marketing class at a major university studying this site to see its effectiveness as a tool to attract new fans, but especially to reinforce commitments from old ones. It is a marketing maxim that it's five times easier to sell products to an existing customer than to find new ones.

The thing is, we all know that content is king in the realm of all things internet. And the producers of this Dylan site have plenty of content to work with, but they aren't stopping with that. They've been making strident efforts to bring new ideas and technologies to bear upon the historical Dylan experience.

It's interesting to think about how Dylan may have come full circle on this idea of being a legend. As we know from his interviews he was more than annoyed with the manner in which journalists hyped him and typed him and called him a spokesperson for a generation back in the mid-Sixties. He ultimately retreated from the public eye, cocooning himself in Woodstock, though continuing to make music.

Here it is nearly a half century later and he's allowing his life work to be promoted in legacy form. Is it for the money?  To be honest I don't think he cares about money or fame at this point. He's more of an elder statesman for a tribe, a head of a corporation that provides a livelihood for its manifold employees who are beneficiaries of this fame.

I'm just guessing here, of course. What I do know is that the music continues to move me. In this I'm not alone.

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