A poster telling people not to tape music.

Gary Denham/flickr

Record sales aren’t what they used to be, but apps are providing innovative ways to keep physical media relevant in the digital age.

The way we listen to music is constantly changing. In addition to what seems like a new technological innovation popping up every week, ongoing and sometimes unpredictable cultural transformations are always driving the hard-charging evolution of media and music listening platforms.

Many people associate the digital age of music with the extinction of the conventional record company. Aggressive litigation against modern music outlets like Napster offer evidence of record companies’ frantic battle to stay afloat in a rapidly changing business environment, as Wired emphasizes.

But as the dust settles, many companies have found ways to remain competitive in the market, and the industry is opening up in surprising ways. Artists, record companies, and other mediums that many presumed dead are finding ways to survive and thrive in the dynamic world of modern music.

Apps, Bands, and You

One way that record companies and artists are taking advantage of the digital environment is to create apps that cater to specific albums.

A great example is critically acclaimed English group, The xx, who in 2012 released an interactive app in tandem with their album “Coexist,” according to Spin. The app gives those who buy the album unique visualizers for each individual track, as well as a full lyric book, tour dates, and news and notifications on the band’s every move.

Other prominent artists that have successfully put the app/album combo to use include Lady Gaga, Bjork, and somewhat controversially, Jay-Z, as The Verge.

Minor complications aside, pairing an album with an engaging app is a great way for record companies to encourage album sales while still appealing to the digital generation.

A Digital Analog Revolution

Surprisingly, according to Time, vinyl sales in 2014 reached their highest number since 1991. In an era of rampant piracy and easy digital downloads, cumbersome vinyls that first appeared in the late-19th century are still seeing huge spikes in sales.

This counter-intuitive development can be attributed to a number of cultural factors, including the explosion of the app marketplace. In an article for Gizmodo, author Andy Cush discusses how mobile apps are simultaneously exposing new listeners to vinyl while helping shape the classic experience for veterans of the medium.

Apps such as MilkCrate offer vinyl enthusiasts an ideal way to search for records, share their favorites with friends, and meticulously catalogue their growing collection.

On the other side of the spectrum, Vinyl is an app that “turns your iPad into a vintage record player.” Although this app isn’t particularly groundbreaking, since it’s merely a digital simulator, it’s popularity is an indication of the compatibility between old fashioned records and new-age apps.

Infinite Monkeys: The Instrument Playing the Sweetest Tunes

The increasing complexity and dynamism of the music industry shouldn’t be perceived as a threat, but as an opportunity. From promoting your band to sparking the revival of a seemingly obsolete medium, the digital era offers a world of possibilities.

If you think you have an idea for the next big music app, Infinite Monkeys is where you need to go. With its simple DIY interface for app creation, anyone can use their system and make their idea a reality. That way, you’ll never have to march to the beat of someone else’s drum.