Pairing new music releases with interactive mobile app experiences has become increasingly popular in recent years. Back in 2011, for example, Björk released a series of interactive iPad apps that placed a scientific emphasis on her Biophilia album. In 2013, Jay Z gave away one million free copies of Magna Carta… Holy Grail on a Samsung mobile app on select Galaxy devices. Before ANTI dropped yesterday, Rihanna had been teasing fans with her ANTIdiaRY enterprise, a virtual tour through eight different rooms in which something new about the album was exposed in each. Today, pop-psych progenitors of the indie world Animal Collective released the Painting With app to promote a new single “Lying in the Grass” from their forthcoming album of the same name, out February 19th.
On the app, users customize different paintbrushes by snapping pictures on their smartphone’s camera. They can then use their customized paintbrushes to create “paintings” that can be done alone or with another user on the app. Animal Collective’s new single “Lying in the Grass,” which is officially released on February 1st, plays as you paint. Users can upload creations to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #PaintingWith, and the submissions are also displayed on the official Animal Collective website in real time.
Promoting the new Animal Collective single with an interactive app that inspires creativity works for a band like this whose brand is particularly colorful, eccentric, and psychedelic-leaning. If you close your eyes when you listen to an Animal Collective song, my best guess is that your brain conjures an image of swirling colors. Now you have the option to open your eyes and see a similar creation come to life as it pulses to the beat of “Lying in the Grass” on your smartphone. The customization of the different paint brushes encourages users to transform the world around them into brushstrokes that make a larger, more impactful artistic creation.
You can listen to the new song only while you’re painting on the app, which is slightly frustrating but wholly expected to make the download essential. Their users will have to actually engage with the painting template or at least tap their phone screens every few seconds to keep their phones from locking and the song from shutting off. It’s clear what the app wants from us — simultaneous painting and listening, a multifaceted artistic experience.
The mobile apps that musicians release alongside new music effectively strengthen a personal brand if the app coincides neatly with the artist’s image. With Painting With, Animal Collective give their fans something fun that isn’t too grating. These days that’s a gift in itself.