Interactive paper posters that can play a band’s music as you walk by could be coming to a wall, billboard or lamppost near you. Would they be music to your ears or spoil your day with superfluous noise pollution?
The prototype “Listening Post” posters are impregnated with conductive ink. Passers-by need only press a thumbnail image of a local band to hear a clip of their music.
The inventors claim that the ‘low printing costs’ (although the inventors haven’t specified how low) could make anything that uses paper or card more interactive.
New bands have other ways of spreading the word
The BBC’s description of the Listening Post conjures images of wannabe new bands fly-posting high-tech posters in order to draw people to their local gig.
In my youth a friend’s band (the Howard Brown Supersounds as named after the Halifax advert) was reliant on flyers and posters to spread the word about their local gigs. The flyers were designed and printed at home and mostly spread by hand.
If the band was still going today I suspect it would have abandoned these advertising techniques in favour of websites like MySpace, which is now as much a music blog as it is a social network – it famously helped propel Lily Allen to stardom. Other artists have made it big on YouTube, like Justin Bieber.
The beauty of these websites is that they’re completely free and accessible to millions online, allowing banks to get their music straight into people’s homes.
Established artists tapped into new technology
It’s hard to see what these musical posters could add that isn’t already available. Walking down the escalator on my way to work I passed a host of advertising TV screens; this morning a yoghurt drink was the advert du jour, but big bands have featured too.
The ability to print paper-thin music adverts could certainly be appealing for magazines like NME. But there are other ways of doing this, such as QR codes that people can scan with their smartphone for a taster of a new band.
The inventors of the Listening Post say it will take a few more years to bring their ideas to fruition, with music being just ‘the tip of the iceberg’. And despite my cynicism, I hope it will succeed. There’s something about the smell and feel of paper that a screen, whether it’s a tablet or TV, just can’t match.