By Hannah Daly
Earlier this week, Interscope Geffen A&M launched a dramatically redesigned site. Billed as a more ‘app-like’ experience, Interscope’s new look draws from popular social media platforms to present a hyper-current stream of content. All continuous stream and content columns, the site seems more at home on touchable tablet than desktop screen.
It is easy to move through the site, quickly jumping across artists and sub-labels, traveling fluidly between content types. A cover photo-like banner rests atop the page, flashing promo pics of Interscope and subsidiaries’ family of artists. Each artist’s relevant social media and merchandise links are presented simply as familiar circular icons, so ubiquitous they function as additional letters in our cultural alphabet. Take No Doubt: six buttons take us to the band’s website, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube profiles, a pop up window to join an official mailing list, and last but not least, the official merchandise store, where one can acquire a pink No Doubt dress for their toddler aged daughter.
Once selecting a musical artist to explore – either from the sleek bar up top or a drop down grid one click away – the related feed instantly morphs to include a continuous stream of integrated real time content. It’s all there, all together: everything the artist has done and is doing. Every instagram, music video, headline, and pretty much everything in between – an artist’s page keeps unified record of most every digital action by or about them.
Under five content categories, various platforms and outlets are streamlined into a easily traversable feed. Select Music, for example, and the screen quickly reorganizes itself to present a grid of cover art, connected to relevant music streaming or downloading links, occasionally with Spotify or Soundcloud players embedded directly onto the page.
Choose Social, and the screen quickly tosses out everything but the entries bearing that ever present little blue bird. Click Video, and only Vevo interviews and Youtube videos fill the shifting columns. Each post in each category invites and reports user comments, as well as keeping tally of sharing via Likes and tweets.
If the emphasis on social media enabled sharing wasn’t hilighted enough in the content itself, the new Interscope.com encourages users to sign in with their preferred platform. A subtle but unmissable orange tab proclaims: ‘Sign in with your Social Network.’ Scroll to explore and a sleek black drop down bar presents an icon platter of network options old and new, successful and not so much – Facebook, AOL, and Google + among them. Once we connect through our preferred platform, whatever makes up one’s digital identity on said social network becomes a part of our Interscope experience. The orange tab welcomes us by name, imports a round little avi pic, and offers us the possibility to edit our profile. Signing in offers enables to option to comment on and one-click share content across other networks. If we stay signed in, a gray message bubble alerts of updates from artists most frequented.
“We believe that this approach sets a new bar for corporate websites in the music industry,” says Vice President of Digital Lee Hammond. Hammond is right: the Interscope makeover re-positions the role of a label in a seemingly new way, at least digitally. Rather than point towards their domain as final destination, the site presents label-as-filter: we can connect directly to musicians through Interscope. They act as the interface through which we get right to the sounds, images, and videos. Interscope has aggregated familiar features from popular platforms – the clicks, scrolls, and windows we touch and interact with daily, mostly without noticing. The objective is clear: in a time when the labels’ relevancy and cultural currency are constantly being negotiated in an altogether new musical landscape, the site seems to insist ‘we are connected to you, we are a network.’ Whether users will choose to plug in, only time will tell.