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The Song Ends With You
March 16, 2011 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Playbutton embeds albums in wearable button badges.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (57 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is kind of a neat, but a bit of a weak post and might be kiboshed as PlayButtonBlue. (Single link to a gadget's website not being quite enough to warrant a post on its own.)
posted by disillusioned at 5:49 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This would be amazing if you could choose the songs.
posted by prefpara at 5:52 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Soooo...it's a button with only one album's worth of music in it? I guess it's a neat marketing tool for an album. Maybe it's good for an unsigned band to sell their latest album on the cheap but still make all the money on it? Someone hope me with the logic in this.
posted by NoMich at 5:53 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a really cool way to promote albums.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:54 PM on March 16, 2011


For people who enjoy the size of an iPod shuffle, but long for the days when they could only listen to ten songs by the same artist.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:54 PM on March 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Okay, well, to offset any fears of "PlayButtonBlue" ... here's Wired, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, and the L.A. Times on the Playbutton.
posted by mykescipark at 5:55 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Someone hope me with the logic in this.

I really like badges, and wear them on my bag. I still buy full albums of bands I love. It would be great if there was some emotional emergency and even without my phone I could still have access to Separation Sunday, Tangled Up In Blue, Sink or Swim and The Monitor.

Plus, anything that reminds me of the the underrated DS game The World Ends With You is a good thing.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:55 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Badges are usually the cheapest form of merch, which helps. Now I wish my badges played music...

God, that Wired article is annoying

And then things turn bad. The controls are set into the back panel, making them hard to get to, definitely a case of function following form. Worse, there is no way to change the music, or the order it is played in. Mercifully, you can skip backwards and forwards, but in every way you are treated as if you are listening to an old LP or CD.

How hideous! Being forced to listen to the songs in the order the artist intended them to be listened to!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:58 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Soooo...it's a button with only one album's worth of music in it?

Yeah, my first thought was, "No wireless, less space than a Nomad, etc." But the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of returning to the album format, especially for those few albums that are perfect. It would be an affectation, but one I think I could get behind.
posted by lekvar at 5:59 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks like a cute novelty giveaway. But per the Wired article, when did "swag" become "schwag"?
posted by Jode at 5:59 PM on March 16, 2011


The real question is how cheap they would be to make. Pretty much anybody can make badges now. If local bands could use this it would be amazing
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:01 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here comes the new gimmick, same as the old gimmick.
posted by gcbv at 6:01 PM on March 16, 2011


do not doubt the power of badges
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:04 PM on March 16, 2011


Argh. Two weeks before I go on tour? Not fair.
posted by lumpenprole at 6:04 PM on March 16, 2011


Stop thinking about it like an iPod with only ten songs and you'll be fine. Anything that helps promotes the album format gets 2 thumbs up from me.
posted by davebush at 6:05 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


helps promote
posted by davebush at 6:06 PM on March 16, 2011


This is great for indie bands. We give away our music for free on homemade CD-Rs, but that's not quite as memorable as a badge with some pretty cool art on it. I'm as guilty as anyone else of going home and letting all those CD-Rs stockpile in a cabinet somewhere.

Think of it as something bands give away for free or cheap, like at SXSW, and it'll make sense.
posted by naju at 6:10 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do people still wear a multitude of buttons on their trenschoat/leather jacket? If so, I like the idea of selling my self-released album for a buck or two at my show at SxSW or while on tour. Or my political cause could sell a mix CD on a button for a few bucks. Could that work? Lord knows that bands don't really make money on CD sales any more.
posted by NoMich at 6:11 PM on March 16, 2011


This could be a postdigital masterstroke and I'm pretty sure I'd buy these at concerts and love giving them away. I liked my old iPod Shuffle because it only had 512 MB and no display, but there was still too much choice involved; it seems cognitively easier to carry a few of these. Instant, constraintless choice paralyzes me.
posted by mbrock at 6:11 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jaron Lanier wrote about this in his book, "You Are Not a Gadget" - he called them tchotchkes, items which would return the music to physical space by being a cool object. Kind of like album cover art, but he might have been thinking of a more network-enabled object.
posted by The River Ivel at 6:12 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like these, they are cute and I'm with the people who are fond of the album format. I feel like as a music junkie with my big fat 160GB Ipod, sometimes I need disciplining to stop me playing 120 seconds of loads of great songs before skipping to the next, and what better than a pin with duck on to discipline me?
posted by merocet at 6:14 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Someone hope me with the logic in this.

It's a fun-looking thing, and anything that promotes listening to a full record is OK with me. I'm going to drop them a note and see what ballpark we're talking about $$$-wise.
posted by mintcake! at 6:15 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do people still wear a multitude of buttons on their trenschoat/leather jacket?

yep, i've seen them. seen them on bags too. oddly enough they also seem to be popular at geek conventions. would be need to embed an LCD game in one
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:18 PM on March 16, 2011


Bottom line for me: this is really cool, or basically useless, and there is no way to know which it is until we see the pricepoint.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:19 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, davebush. I owe you a Coke.
posted by mintcake! at 6:26 PM on March 16, 2011


Eh, I really want to like this and... on certain levels I do. I like the idea of it as an art/object rather than just a file. I guess it depends on how expensive they are.

But it's really, really niche. Not everyone will wear a button (I do) and then if you have more than one... you have to manage charging it, keeping it dry on your bag/jacket, etc, and I can't see myself standing around while someone listens to my jacket the way we used to stand around and say "hey, listen to this!" with tape players and stuff, because nearly everyone has an MP3 player. So the standard mode is "send me the file or link" or "throw it on a card/thumb drive" or whatever.

In contrast I have a tiny little Sansa Clip that's probably actually smaller than the button and it has a microSD card slot, which allows for carrying a lot of music in a very tiny space. And that player has an EQ, an FM radio, the ability to record and even allows for adjusting the gain for driving big headphones, not to mention a decent OLED screen so I can actually see the name of the track that's playing.

But back to "album as art object" there's a bunch of bands (mainly electronic/experimental, some indie pop/rock) that have been doing this for years. I've seen releases on hard drive, or special packages where you get not only a high res, heavy weight virgin vinyl pressing, but also CDs and/or access to high resolution uncompressed "collector" or "hi fi" files that are SACD or more than SACD, or multichannel audio for home mixing/editing and that sort of "value added" packaging that's great for collectors.

There's also cool stuff like music generators where instead of a sound file it's actually a miniature synth or something and the music is actually being generated from the hardware.

I want to like it... but it just feels like more disposable e-waste. I can move files around if a HD fails, but what happens when the tiny battery on this dies?
posted by loquacious at 6:30 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I dunno if this sounds weird, but I'm thinking of it almost like an emergency kit. Like carrying around rations if you get hungry, only for my emotional/mental health. It'll only work if they reissue older albums on the format, though. Or if someone hacks them.

MAN how good would a custom kit for this be! I could redo all my badges! Even get a Triforce that does the Zelda theme!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:38 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


MAN how good would a custom kit for this be! I could redo all my badges! Even get a Triforce that does the Zelda theme!

It's actually completely within reach of any hobbyist so inclined to make a simple MP3 player device on a microchip.
posted by odinsdream at 6:44 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is totally bad ass. I don't wear buttons generally, but if they did more than advertise (I dunno, say, play an album) I'd be totally into that shit. HOLY CRAP, what a cool way to hand out/sell/promote one's album.

As others have said, a lot depends on price here; but this is a brilliant way to jazz up a ubiquitous fashion item.

*love*
posted by Pecinpah at 6:51 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Depending on the price point, it's a GREAT way to give out an album for listening / sampling without necessarily releasing it into the wild, so to speak.

In an ideal world, you'd be able to generate actual physical CD or download sales using buttons as the seed, and then get your fans to pass the button along to someone else once they've made their purchase. (Or decided not to purchase, that too.)
posted by hippybear at 6:53 PM on March 16, 2011


I hope it's not rechargeable.

Then, it's a certain number of plays of the album. Each time you listen is one more time that you can't listen to it.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:07 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Single link to a gadget's website not being quite enough to warrant a post on its own.)

Ugh.

Thanks for posting this. I think it's a great idea for album or EP promotion. Puts the old school and new school together quite nicely. As much as I'm prone to tearing a new asshole on ideas like this, I'm sort of captivated by it. I'd buy one. Or two, or twenty.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:10 PM on March 16, 2011


Depending on the price point, it's a GREAT way to give out an album for listening / sampling without necessarily releasing it into the wild, so to speak.

True, but it'd be trivial to record it with very little loss, assuming the player software/hardware output somewhere around CD quality. But you still wouldn't own the object.

I hope they don't come with headphones or packaging. That would be really wasteful. To stay true to the ethos of a button or badge they should bulk packaged, loose in a chipboard box like you see on merch tables at shows all over the world.

I've been thinking about it more and I don't like the idea of "one use" electronics that much. Making chips and assembled boards uses a lot of water, energy and chemicals. I'd be interested to see how much water and energy it takes to make a particular chip and board and product, the same way people calculate how it takes 9 liters of water to make a liter of canned soda.

(Sebmojo: It's rechargeable.)
posted by loquacious at 7:11 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope they don't come with headphones or packaging. That would be really wasteful. To stay true to the ethos of a button or badge they should bulk packaged, loose in a chipboard box like you see on merch tables at shows all over the world.

Agreed. The sort of person who buys these certainly has headphones.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:17 PM on March 16, 2011


I think this is really neat! And there are albums that I've paid from iTunes and eMusic for that I would re-purchase in this format, just to have as physical things.

That weren't CDs. Got plenty of those already.
posted by tantrumthecat at 7:42 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice piece of flair. Need 14 more.
posted by iconomy at 7:45 PM on March 16, 2011


If this could cost-effectively manage to have a pop-out USB connection that let you suck the music files onto your machines, this would be a super-awesome way to sell albums at a concert. Listen to it from the button as you walk home, put it onto your computer and spread it around your phone/ipod... and still have the button hanging on your bag. There's your copy of the album.
posted by egypturnash at 7:45 PM on March 16, 2011


I'm rather charmed by this! For albums I try to get people to listen to, I'd love to be able to hand them a button and say, "Look, just give it a whirl when you have a spare moment." And then they forget about it in their purse until like a month later, when they realize they're on the subway with no book, and hey, what's this, it's that album button thing, I guess I'll listen to it.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:16 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


If this could cost-effectively manage to have a pop-out USB connection that let you suck the music files onto your machines, this would be a super-awesome way to sell albums at a concert.

Or if there was a 'code' or something on the back of the button that allowed access to a download of the album, so that the owner of the button could download a digital copy of the album once they'd purchased (or caught, or been gifted) the button. No need for a hardware USB on the button itself if access to the music is still readily available.
posted by Pecinpah at 8:18 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's an art object and like all art objects it needs to be respected as itself.

And given the shape it can be just as easily slipped in the change pocket of my skinny-ass jeans.
Or the band of my mini-fedora or my Che-hat.
If only they made mp3 playing socks then the world would be free of the ipod.

I've already sent them an inquiry letter and cannot wait to get a reply; I suspect they are swamped right now.
posted by artof.mulata at 9:34 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks like a cute novelty giveaway. But per the Wired article, when did "swag" become "schwag"?

Swag is giveaway stuff. Schwag is a type of weed. (If these were not mutually exclusive, the world would be a better place.)

This is a neat idea. Way less useful if the price is steep, though.

I'd love to have the capability to make 'em myself. They'd be a really sweet way to make mixtapes, especially since it's inherently difficult to skip songs.
posted by NoraReed at 10:06 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


And NoraReed for the win!
posted by artof.mulata at 12:53 AM on March 17, 2011


But are they enough?
posted by maudlin at 1:10 AM on March 17, 2011


As giveaways these would be awesome. I would buy one for button-badge price ($1-2). I would not buy one for album price ($10 or more).

Jode: "Looks like a cute novelty giveaway. But per the Wired article, when did "swag" become "schwag"?"

Thank Thor Muller of Get Satisfaction. His previous company, RubyRed Labs, owned Valleyschwag.com. He's a great guy.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:31 AM on March 17, 2011


From the BBC article:

Another obvious way to market them would be on merchandise stalls at concerts. Mr Dangerfield thinks the ideal price would be $15 (£10) if bands sold them at their gigs, but the price could be up to double that, "depending on the type of release and sales channel".

"It's up to the artist to decide how much they want to charge," he says.
posted by Duug at 2:20 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there's no data-out port except an audio jack, then I don't see why they'd need to overcharge for these (like $10): a lower price point ($3?) would be more appropriate.

I have several older "desert island discs" that I would love to have on a button/badge, especially if I cold go to a kiosk and get it made with the original album art. (What about "Warehouse: Songs and Stories" though? Is a double abum put onto a badge that's twice as big?)
posted by wenestvedt at 2:49 AM on March 17, 2011


I think this is a wonderful idea. People like stuff. These are stuff. I don't care that I can find any music in the world in some virtual space. You can't bond with links. But a button, obtained at a gig, by a band you actually saw, has all the concreteness of your own experience. I hope it catches on. I presume the pricepoint will depend on the popularity.
posted by stonepharisee at 3:41 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a playable band t-shirt. You get to proclaim your coolosity and heptastickness by wearing the latest release and actually visibly listening to it. Then you throw it in a drawer with the other shit you're sick of after a month.

I think one-station radios would be cooler. If you see other people wearing your station, you know they're listening to the same song you're listening to and you can break into a little impromptu dance with them. (Maybe not so good for subway riders, though.)
posted by pracowity at 4:14 AM on March 17, 2011


One with Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep ten times. please.
posted by Splunge at 5:59 AM on March 17, 2011


Can I just say that even though I hate the idea of the product, I love their website?
It just felt perfect.
posted by Theta States at 6:48 AM on March 17, 2011


Play them here, wear them anywhere!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:55 AM on March 17, 2011


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: How hideous! Being forced to listen to the songs in the order the artist intended them to be listened to!

As opposed to the hideousness of the owner of the music deciding for themselves how they want to play the music, in what order, maybe remixed or mashed-up with something else or as part of a mixtape or DJ set or whatever? Because you know that there are some artists who really do think that it's hideous that they don't have the same level of control over someone's private listening experience that they might in a concert setting. Just the other day, one John Bongiovi Jr. took a seriously ill pancreatic cancer survivor to task for "killing the music business" by allowing people to bypass the whole album experience and get that one song that they really like (although, one notes, he hasn't had his songs yanked from iTunes, at least yet).

Personally, I have no beef with artists who say, look, I know that you really like that one song that sounds like "96 Tears" played real slow and kind of sideways, but you should really try listening to the whole album in sequence, we spent a lot of time deciding on the song selection and order and it really is more than the sum of its parts. If I got one of these for free, then I just might do that. If I paid regular price for it, though, I'd want what egypturnash and Pecinpah suggest above: a digital download option that lets me do with it what I wish.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:42 AM on March 17, 2011


What does Steve Jobs' illness have to do with anything?

I like my iPod a lot, but I also like sitting at home with headphones and actively listening to a record for a while. iTunes may have helped turn people into more passive listeners (by the way, take a look at how much new vinyl is being released on Amazon), but it certainly didn't kill the music business. The RIAA and "home taping is killing music" and "we need a blank tape tax!" and $19 CDs and different prices for "music" CD-Rs and "data" CD-Rs helped with this. There are plenty of people who have been through the major label mill and figured out that their way to make a decent (ethical? maybe...) living is to own the business and then be a part-time shopkeeper and industry lawyer. Robert Fripp, Peter Gabriel, Zappa - these might be better places to look for "what happened to the music business" lessons than the guy who still happily records for Island/Def Jam/Universal/Sysco/whatever.
posted by mintcake! at 9:30 AM on March 17, 2011


Someone hope me with the logic in this.

...

This is a really cool way to promote albums.

Yeah, I would buy one if it was a cool button and a cool album and not too much money. $5? That's already way more than you'll get for a digital download.

in every way you are treated as if you are listening to an old LP or CD

I think that's the point.

Jaron Lanier wrote about this in his book, "You Are Not a Gadget" - he called them tchotchkes, items which would return the music to physical space by being a cool object.

I've been saying that since pre-Napster (but I did not write a book about it). Playbutton is only one of the first of many (e.g. Radiohead's "newspaper" album or whatever that thing was) attempts to re-substantiate the rock album.

I think there's a HUGE potential here.

I've been thinking about it more and I don't like the idea of "one use" electronics that much.

It's not "one use" if you can replace the battery?

And how do you feel about disposable diapers or disposable lighters?

Swag is giveaway stuff. Schwag is a type of weed. (If these were not mutually exclusive, the world would be a better place.)

Maybe you need some better friends? :p 95% of the weed I smoked in the '90s was free schwag from friends...

Can I just say that even though I hate the idea of the product, I love their website?
It just felt perfect.


Huh. I am the contrapositive (converse?). I like the idea of the product, but the website design was stupid. If you're selling buttons that play albums, the site should reflect that.

Also, I hope the clip is not literally a safety pin. That would be stupid. The biggest problem for me with buttons/badges is that the pin breaks/bends.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:04 PM on March 17, 2011


If there's no data-out port except an audio jack, then I don't see why they'd need to overcharge for these (like $10): a lower price point ($3?) would be more appropriate.

I think $5 is the sweet spot. Buttons now cost $2-3 (maybe more for that bigger size). Another $2-3 for the digital music seems appropriate.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:07 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


As opposed to the hideousness of the owner of the music deciding for themselves how they want to play the music, in what order, maybe remixed or mashed-up with something else or as part of a mixtape or DJ set or whatever?

I do find remixes and mash-ups hideous but this isn't going to be the new way to distribute music. If DJ Whoever wants to make a bunch of these at his party and pass out his latest remix, then what's stopping him? And i've got e-mails with DJ mixes that look like one 40 minute soundcloud file
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:37 PM on March 17, 2011


Hmmm, there emails keep bouncing. Starting to wonder if this is a joke. Too bad. It could have been the next buddha machine.
posted by artof.mulata at 10:41 AM on March 18, 2011


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