The Who are trying to connect with younger audiences following the release of their 50th anniversary compilation, and they're doing so by releasing a mobile app and announcing plans for an Oculus Rift app next year. The mobile app, which is free for iOS and Android, lets you make your way through a virtual museum and listen to streams of the band's music by tapping into music services like Spotify. There are little exhibits set up for each song, with each area also presenting lyrics and a link to purchase the track.
"I’m not a fan of smartphones."
The app is among the more puzzling that I've ever used — and it isn't doing that intentionally — but the idea is an interesting one as far as creating an interactive extension of music goes. Of course, the app was made by a developer, Immersive, on the band's behalf, and it's hard to say how much input the band actually had. It doesn't necessarily sound like a lot.
"I’m not a fan of smartphones but have to admit they do open up huge possibilities to entertain and educate," Who lead singer Roger Daltrey says in a statement. "The Music business needs to use every avenue possible to keep the fans and the music in close contact. This app will hopefully teach our newer, younger fans everything they might want to know of our history, and hopefully unearth some odds and sods for our older ones."
The planned Oculus Rift app sounds a lot more interesting. The Guardian got to take an early look at it and reports that the virtual-reality app has you flying through a Who-themed world that includes a magic bus, a Soho doorway, and plenty of bullseyes. Lyrics reportedly appear around you in the world, and during at least one point you can control how you hear a song by turning your head toward different instruments that are floating around you. The developer is also considering adding an area where you would fly around a pinball table as though you were the ball.
The Guardian reports that the Oculus Rift app will likely be charged for upon its release, unlike the smartphone apps. Its release is targeted for early next year. While this makes The Who among the first bands to turn to virtual reality, some others have already tried it out. J-Pop artist Kumi Koda came out with a wild Oculus Rift experience earlier this year, and Beck has an entire concert that can be watched in virtual reality.