Rick Interactive: An exclusive screenshot of the online version for Springfield's interactive album content.
As musicians continue to recognize the power of mobile devices as a tool for interactive artistic expression and as a way to reach fans, Rick Springfield has whole-heartedly embraced the medium for his 2012 release, "Songs for the End of the World."
Springefield first broke onto the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972 with "Speak to the Sky," and later topping the chart with his classic "Jessie's Girl." Today, however, Springfield needed to think out of the box to find an approach that would introduce new audiences to his music.
"The idea for the release of 'Songs for the End of the World' was that there would be four different covers, each corresponding to a different retail outlet, that would have their own sets of exclusive content that fans could unlock," Universal Music Enterprises' Doug Barasch--who oversees all website, social media and digital marketing campaign executions for UME--told Billboard.biz.
The idea is simple and flexible: fans download the 'Rick Interactive' app and then use their smartphone's camera to scan their cover of the album. An augmented reality video of Springfield then appears, telling them to click the screen to unlock the bonus album content.
"It's like alien technology," Springfield said. "I've always been very internet-friendly and we are always looking for new ways to utilize the whole web/app side, so Rick Interactive fits right in."
On Oct. 8 Springfield debuted tracks from "Songs for the End of the World" and on the same day demoed the app during a Livestream appearance.
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The company that championed the development of Rick Interactive, Aurasma, uses image and pattern recognition to blend the real world with interactive content such as videos and animations. Since its June 2011 launch, Aurasma has had more than four million downloads as well having been embedded into more than 400 partner apps, including those apps made for The Rolling Stones, The Darkness and Carrie Underwood.
Universal's Barasch uses the number of app downloads, engagement on the interactive websites, and overall feedback from fans as a measure of success on an interactive project of this type. "If we observe longer duration of engagement with the app like we are here, we know that we're creating a lasting impression that will bring people back," he explained. "And I think that's the overall goal of the app."
Springfield's "Songs for the End of the World" debuted at No. 44 on the Billboard 200 and No. 18 on Rock Albums. Looking forward, Springfield and his team hope to find more ways to connect with fans through the Rick Interactive app. Barasch notes that since everything is cloud-based, the app can be refreshed or altered at any time with new content always just around the corner.