BJÖRK, DAVID GILMOUR and Brian Eno are just some of the artists who have taken their music into the ever-expanding universe of the app, splicing conventional audio tracks with images, video and interactive content. The smartphone variations of these products have proved popular, but it's within the luxury, big-screen galaxy of the iPad and its surrounding moons that the Album As App really comes to life. The latest catalogue to experience the iPad upgrade is that of The Doors a move driven by Elektra Records supremo Jac Holzman, a man who's always kept a weather eye on advances in music technology. Holzman spoke to MOJO about The Doors app, expanding on the possibilities of this new music experience and what's next for the good ol' long player. When the music's over, turn out the light? Not a bit of it.
Let's start with the Doors app. How did that start?
Well, I've been in involved with a whole bunch of technology stuff over the years. I was chief technologist of Warner Communications, I did the CD implementation for the music group Cable and was one of three directors at Atari. I'm always interested in the point where the arts meet technology and how one can advance the other. I was looking at apps and the story you can tell through them. I thought that this would be great for The Doors 40th anniversary edition of L.A Woman so I got the go-ahead and started to work on the project. Then, as I got into it, I realized that this thing was much, much bigger.
What can we expect?
There are 12 sections: one devoted to each of The Doors' albums, one devoted to the 1968 European tour, there's a chapter on Jim and one devoted to the aftermath of his death. I also found wonderful Doors articles from Patti Smith and Hunter S. Thompson. We then asked 'how do you tell the story of the Miami incident [where Morrison was arrested onstage in March 1969 for alleged indecent exposure]?' We came up with the idea of doing it as an in-app graphic novel. We have the FBI files, Jim's testimony and reams of legal documents. You can also hear audio from the incident itself. In total, there are over 1400 items - 44 short videos, tickets, memorabilia, lots of photographs, all The Doors' lyrics. You can play 90 seconds of every track and if you have the song in your iTunes library you play the whole thing through the app. Then, of course, there are the social networking opportunities as well. All created by a team of six.
“A lot of people have tried to emulate what an album is digitally... I don't think anybody has got it right”
What does the proliferation of the app mean for the future of the album?
This process changed my view of the album. I'm a guy who has made albums from 1950 until the late '90s. As a result of the development of digital, the whole business has skewed towards the singles market and a number of people, some of whom I respect, think the album is irrelevant. I don't. A single tells you about the song, but it does not tell you a lot about the artist. When you begin to hear the motifs that weave in and out of an album you begin to see the shape of that person's approach to music. A lot of people have tried to emulate what an album is digitally. iTunes made a noble try at it. I don't think anybody has got it right, but the experiments we conducted while creating this app have led me to believe that we can now approach a piece of music from many different angles.
What's the most important thing you've learnt from creating The Doors iPad app?
Most people have a primary portal through which they acquire information and music. That may be predominantly auditory, but they will always want supplementary audio and visual cues. Which means you can really approach an album from any of these directions. If you put an album on shuffle, you'll hear it differently. You may hear bad juxtapositions, but then you'll also hear magical ones. I'm looking to offer as many perspectives as possible. I think multiple perspectives are the key. This app is a real experience.
The Doors Official App is available from the App Store now.