App Review: App Brings HD Videos of Emerging Artists to iPad

by Dave Mainella

It is generally understood that music videos are not the most lucrative sources of revenue, particularly for emerging bands without the big budgets and resources of celebrity status.  But (Brick And Mortar Media) has spent that last year and a half building a reputation around confronting that norm, shooting and collecting an impressive database of live music videos.  And last week, the San Francisco-based company released its app for the iPad platform, bringing its vast collection of up-and-coming artists to your fingertips. began shooting high-quality, exclusive video around the time of SXSW 2011 and continued to record select live events.  They also invite, based on the recommendations of their editorial staff, emerging artists touring the area into their San Francisco studio.

As a result, absolutely has the material to provide users with a very rich, exclusive, unique experience of watching emerging artists perform live in HD.  Browsing’s website reveals beautiful videos with great sound (and often great-sounding bands).  The new app aims to bring that content to iPad with a different, more indirect approach.

The app’s appearance and interface is meant to represent a virtual music venue that encourages a complete, immersive fan experience and rewards interaction.

A sense of nostalgia is certainly unavoidable.  An old-time TV displays music videos, and cassette tape icons and boomboxes help to realize the app as a fun, old-school game of sorts.

There are three distinct areas within the app.  First, the Alley acts as the homepage, with select videos and music on the TV and boombox.  The Lobby is the entryway into the app’s full experience.  It offers a vending machine containing content that users can unlock with the points they accrue by repeatedly visiting, watching, and sharing.  Finally, the Auditorium is where users explore videos and playlists, make their own playmixes, learn about new bands, and interact via the “engage” feature.

You can watch the introductory tutorial here:

The app seems to be designed first and foremast with a gaming experience in mind.  It is meant to be thoroughly explored.  It is not a device for the quick and clean organization of new music video content, and because of that, the app’s functionality can be a little distracting.

While it’s admirable that is trying to offer a highly interactive experience for iPad users, it doesn’t necessarily pull a user into its virtual world in a convincing way.  And the occasional sluggish response time and moderate learning curve can leave the user disenchanted, especially the content-minded user.

But it is an interesting first step for a company with a lot of potential. has identified a unique music video market while providing a high quality product that directly benefits artists. doesn’t charge artists at all; rather, the artist is allowed to use the finished product as they like in accordance with the creative commons license, and retains global distribution rights. has partnered with several distribution platforms including Samsung, Chungwha Telecom, Selectv, MunduTV, and FuugoTV.

Bands gain free worldwide exposure and a paycheck.  Artists and split net profits from licensing and advertising 50/50, with profitability ultimately depending on the number of views a band’s video receives.

Try’s new app for iPad for free, available in the iTunes store.