The Presidents of the United States of America, a rock band from the 1990s, just released an iPhone app (iTunes link) that represents what could become a replacement for the boxed CD set. The iPhone app comes with access to four albums, an early demo tape, and regular updates. Instead of paying $50 or more for the complete collection of a band’s music, you get an equivalent collection of music on your iPhone for $2.99. The catch is that the songs are all streamed and played in random order (or you can choose various playlists). But this is really a marketing vehicle for the band. Any song can be bought and downloaded from the iTunes store directly from within the app.
That is a better model than wasting your money on an entire boxed set, when all you really want is one or two albums, and maybe a few singles here and there. Dave Dederer, the lead singer of the Presidents of the United States of America, calls the app “a Whitman’s Sampler for the ears.” He is also now an executive at Melodeo, the Seattle-based company distributing the app, which is part of its collection of NuTsie music streaming apps.
Other bands might find it more difficult to launch similar apps, however. One reason the Presidents of the United States of America was able to offer this app is because the band still owns all the rights to their original recordings. That is not the case for most bands, but maybe an enterprising marketer at one of the record labels will greenlight other streaming boxed sets.