Google Glass Sets Its Sights on Music, with Artist Evangelizers

French horn player Sarah Willis, with her Google Glass.

Malte/Jager/Laif/Redux

From hip-hop to classical, the $1,500 technology has arrived.

This article was first published in the July 5th issue of Billboard Magazine.

Will Google Glass revolutionize the music industry? According to early adopters of the wearable computer - such as French horn player Sarah Willis and hip-hop producer Young Guru - the odds are in the new technology's favor.

Live concerts streamed through Google Glass, saved playlists available on command and the possibility of remotely recording music are just a few of the ways the head-mounted computer slowly is making a mark on the industry.

Willis has been a Glass Explorer (someone invited by the company to test-drive Google Glass) since the first version came out in June 2013 and has served as the first Explorer in Germany. At the NEXTBerlin conference in May, she shared the atypical ways the product has benefited her career as a professional musician in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

"I thought it would be actually quite cool for someone in classical music to see what you could do with it," she said. Some of these endeavors have included recording videos of her performances, staging Google Hangouts with auto-horn players, streaming live concerts on the Internet and working to change the current "old-fashioned reputation" of classical music. There are limitations, however.

"The problem is, you can't really see very much," she admitted, adding that with instruments like the trombone and violin, the line of sight is clearer. In addition, the function that enables video calls with more than one participant, which has been used for long-distance teaching, is no longer available. "The new version of Glass has stopped doing them," she says. "I hope they come back. I would also like Glass to develop a PDF function, so that if I forget my music at home, I can call it up and play from Glass. Better than getting in trouble with the conductor!"

Related

Google Glass, which retails for approximately $1,500, became available for sale in the United States in May and in the United Kingdom on June 23. In September, Samsung reportedly will release a Google Glass competitor. The Google Glass Explorer program launched approximately two years ago, with a wide range of individuals involved, including Young Guru, who has worked with Jay Z, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Ludacris.

Young Guru even filmed a promotional video for the product last fall to showcase Google Glass' music abilities. In the clip, the producer uses the wearable computer to identify a song, locate the record and then spin it in the studio. Other capabilities of Google Glass that have been added since its initial inception that Young Guru has utilized include scanning saved playlists and listening to music in high fidelity. He also has helped announce new music commands that Google has introduced through his partnership with the company. Similar to the iPhone app Shazam, Google Glass now can be used to identify songs, just by asking.

The producer hopes Glass, as a music tool, will enable artists to record remotely, and believes that some day it will. Perhaps that will help justify the hefty price tag.