Apple taught us that a tech company can launch a music career. Their well-placed song selections have sent Feist and others to semi-superstardom; Mashable calls it “the Apple Effect“. And while promotion is a two-way street, it’s much rarer to find a band launching tech (product placement in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video notwithstanding).
Uber-hip Canadian rockers Arcade Fire have done exactly that with the release of The Wilderness Downtown, an interactive film supporting the new single off their album The Suburbs. “We Used To Write” provides the background and content cues for Chris Milk’s innovative video project, which uses HTML5 and was designed for Google Chrome. It’s certainly the most compelling endorsement of a web browser–well, ever, and utilizes the popular Google Street View to create an individualized user experience. The nifty effects and touches not only highlight the potential of HTML5, but the seemingly limitless possibilities for future music videos and other experiential music projects. Furthermore, Arcade Fire et al definitely get Internet buzz generation: not only has The Suburbs already been dominating the blogosphere, participants in The Wilderness Downtown can share their personalized films and digital postcards with their friends and networks.
Arcade Fire and their web developer friends are part of the music industry’s rapidly shifting landscape. If a music video doesn’t even have to be (entirely) a video, what’s next? Maybe I should give MTV a little more credit for switching their programming away from actual music. Perhaps they just saw the writing on the wall–or, in this case, computer screen.