As South by Southwest Interactive is ending and the music festival is begins, there’s a new app offering a fans a chance to explore Austin’s musical history.
The app is called ACL Archive, and it comes from Austin City Limits, the public television show that first started in 1976 to showcase live performances. I was actually a fan of the show when I was a teenager — or, as I told general manager Tom Gimbel, back when I had a television. Gimbel says that’s exactly why this is an important effort for ACL, as program tries to adapt to changing viewing habits.
ACL already has a strong online presence at both the PBS website and at the recently redesigned ACLTV.com. However, those sites mostly showcase recent concerts, while the iPad app, as the name implies, digs deeper into the program’s past. Gimbel compares it to Netflix — you go to Netflix for the library of older content, like the first season of Arrested Development, rather than the latest programming. (The fact that Netflix is getting involved in original content, including, yes, new Arrested Development episodes, kind of ruins the analogy.) The app initially includes 40 videos, including performances from Pearl Jam, Mumford & Sons, Dave Matthews Band and Willie Nelson.
Though the timing of the announcement lines up nicely with SXSW, Gimbel says the new app was really built to coincide with the start of ACL’s new season (which, after 36 years at Studio 6A in the University of Texas, has now moved to the Moody Theater). The program developed the app with music platform Rockify. Next up is an app for Android tablets, Gimbel says, followed by smartphone versions.
You can download the app here. You get three full episodes for free, but have to pay a $2.99 per month (or $29.99 per year) subscription fee to get access to the full library, which should grow over time. The money supports KLRU, the public TV station that produces the show.