Guest post by Andy Cush of Evolver.fm.
At first glance, This American Life and OK Go donât have much in common. The former is a talk radio show known for its funny and touching stories about human connection, and the latter is a rock band known for its sugary hooks and music videos about dancing on treadmills.
A closer look reveals a certain kind of commonality. Each operates in a format that might strike some as old-fashioned in 2012 â the hour-long terrestrial radio program, and the four-piece rock and roll band â but strives to find new listeners by engaging current technology â This American Lifeâs podcasts and fantastic mobile app, and OK Goâs viral videos par excellence.
In that light, the pairâs upcoming collaboration on the unique music app pictured above makes a lot of sense.
Hereâs how this will go down. OK Go will perform during This American Lifeâs live broadcast event Thursday evening, which takes place at NYUâs Skirball Center for the Performing Arts and will be broadcast live to over 500 movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada. Attendees of the show, both in person and via satellite broadcast, are asked to download a free iOS/Android app to be used as an interactive element during OK Goâs performance. Details about how exactly this audience interaction will go down are scant, but the folks at This American Life are calling it âa moment of iPhone/Android magicâ on their blog (we reached out to the show for comment but have not heard back as of publishing time).
The app features three large, brightly colored buttons, each of which activates a bell sound at a different pitch. Fiddle around with the buttons long enough, and their colors will change, giving you a new set of pitches to play with. Itâs not going to blow anyoneâs mind on its own, but we can imagine the effect could be pretty impressive when lots of these are going off at once in the same room using some sort of synchronization.
To that end, we guess there will be cues during OK Goâs performance that direct audience members to play the bell sounds. Beyond that, weâre stumped. Will it be a controlled interaction, involving pressing specific buttons at specific moments, or a free-for-all? And what is the âkey roleâ that This American Life promises to those audience members without smartphones? Will there be synchronized dancing???
Even before we know all the details, we like this idea because, with a simple interaction, it will make the audience a part of the show in a way that goes way beyond pulling out a lighter or singing along. Between this and holographic Tupac (which was a pretty impressive technological feat, regardless of whether or not it was in good taste and/or actually a hologram), weâre excited about the ways music apps large and small continue to infiltrate the live performance space.
Have you heard about other artists using music apps as part of their live show? Let us know. Weâre all about this stuff.