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The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is one of the country’s most glorious cultural instituations and a must-visit destination for anyone who loves Rock & Roll. Of course, it’s not always easy to make the trek to Cleveland in order to understand the roots of rock.
To that end, the Rock Hall in partnership with app developer Sideways collaborated on a new iOS application that debuted this week. The $1.99 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame app is designed around the museum’s “The 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll” exhibit and includes samples of each track (complete with a link to buy on iTunes) and narrative of context of why each is important.
Appolicious Advisor Dan Kricke explains why you should induct this app to your iPhone right away in his review. In this week’s Meet the Makers, we also sat down with Todd Mesek from the Rock Hall and Eliza Wing from Sideways to discuss how to capture the heart and soul of rock in roll in a single mobile application.
Todd Mesek (Rock Hall): The genesis of the app was an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, originally titled “The 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll,” put together by Rock Hall curators and a number of rock critics and historians. This is part of what we do here: collecting, preserving and interpreting the story of rock, why it matters and how it intersects with our world. Over time, the exhibit and the list of songs has expanded. We wanted to use the app as new channel for telling the story.
Appo: Beyond sampling selected songs for potential purchase on iTunes, what should consumers expect after they download the app?
TM: The core of it is the songs, of course. Our hope is that people are introduced to songs that they might not know, but are critical to the development of rock and roll as a social force and an art form. You don’t necessarily need to like every song in the app, but you need to know about it. Second, our curators have added commentary into the app that gives fans some texture, some deeper understanding of why the song is important.
Eliza Wing (Sideways): Users can read terrific original text from the Rock Hall curatorial and educational staff explaining that particular song's place in history. Users can rate the songs and add them to their playlists as well.
TM: We knew Sideways and were familiar with their work, but the conversation didn’t start with a desire to build an app as much as it was a collaboration that drew on their expertise and helped us find new and innovative ways to tell our story.
EW: To be honest, there aren't a lot of models out there for this sort of app. Early on, Sideways worked on apps that embedded the iTunes sample and purchase functional, so they had created that already. Both Sideways and the Rock Hall are very interested in using the mobile medium to create great multimedia music apps.
Appo: Are there other smartphone and tablet apps based around the museum and its exhibits that consumers can download (or are currently in the works)?
TM: There are a number of interactive kiosks in the Museum that draw from multimedia databases and use technology to teach people about the rock and roll art form and how it made an impact. Through our website and collaborations with other organizations, we’ll be rolling out new vehicles that allow us use the technology to spread our mission.
Appo: Are there plans to bring this app to Android-based phones and tablets? What was it about the iOS ecosystem and development technology that motivated you to launch on that platform first (and for the time being exclusively)?
EW: Because the app is based on iTunes integration, there are no current plans to bring this to Android. The focus on the Apple devices had a tremendous amount to do with the iTunes functionality but also ... the penetration of the iPad versus any other Android tablet is so much larger and the tactile and visual experience is so much better at this point, we just felt it was important to focus on Apple.