Apps, Mobile & SMS

Rescuing Album Collection With Gamification and Social Media

Music-hack-dayBy Eliot Van Buskirk of

“The album is dead — long live the app,” reads a headline I wrote over three years ago, when the first artist apps were showing up. At Music Hack Day Boston this past weekend, two music tech hackers issued a valiant effort to make the album a priority again, in these days of connected services and social everything.

“They say the future of music is all about ramification and social media, and that the album is dead, but Glenn [Axelrod] and I are album guys, so we decided to try to help rescue the album and album collection — using gamification and social media,” said Brian Fife.


Their Album Collector hack asks the user to upload their iTunes XML file. It finds all of the artists contained therein, then shows the user which albums they already have from that artist, and which ones they still need if they want to have them all.

Then comes the gamification element. Album Collector runs a bunch of tests on your library to enter you in thematic challenges, to see if you can win something on the strength of your album collection — anything from having the most songs about hammers, to having the most comprehensive collection of a specific artist, to having the most albums by former Star Trek cast members, of which Axelrod and Fife maintain there to be a surprising number.

It’s all designed to turn album collectors into completists.

“It encourages you, if you have one in that set, to go out and find the others and learn more about them,” said Fife.

The programming duo say this hack is just the beginning of Album Collector, and that they plan to add images and canonical IDs to aid integration with other services, but they already have a barebones version up here, if you want to see how your iTunes album collection stacks up.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/tupton


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