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    Favorite New Products: May 2011

    Amongst the most interesting new music products we have seen so far in 2011, is the Playbutton, which is basically just what it says - a button that plays music.

    Practically, the Playbutton combines the concept of the album with the admiration for the artist’s visual artwork and design. Its functionality is similar to the iPod Shuffle, but its contents cannot be altered, downloaded or separated from it’s original cover - all in the format of a button that can be worn on your shirt, bag or wherever you like. In short, “It’s a record that plays itself”, as the inventor Nick Dangerfield explained when I met with him earlier this year.

    After working on a few ideas for a new way to “put records into a physical form”, the company began releasing full length albums with a few of their friends in early 2011. As the first 500 buttons sold out quickly at New York’s Opening Ceremony and London’s Rough Trade shops, a wide range of tech and trend sites started spreading the word about the product online.


    Now, every major and independent label have contacted them about new releases while a number of major brands and advertising agencies are knocking on their door for collaborations as well. Cautious to not engage in any risky partnership too quickly, and still secret about who they will be working in the future and how, Nick confirmed that a few of their coming releases include a re-issue of The XX’s debut album, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s latest album, ‘Belong’. Not bad for a product that has only been physically around for a few months.

    While the life of Playbutton is still somewhat uncertain and highly dependent on a good number of sales and investments, it’s definitely something we hope will stay alive for a while. It may not revolutionize the music industry or become the next major distribution model. However, that is probably not what they are trying to do either, whatever Wired magazine says. Playbutton is simply a more tangible way of sharing, experiencing and showing the music you love, and hopefully something that will help bring a little more money into music again.

    5 Playbuttons we would like to see in the future…

    • David Byrne reading his Bicycle Stories, with interludes of music and anecdotes from around the world. For any biker world wide, this would be your ultimate sound companion.
    • A collection of not-yet-released live and studio recordings, with all the small talk, re-takes and intimacy of ‘being there’ live. This could make the perfect one-time gift or piece of memorabilia.
    • A D.I.Y. edition for anyone who wants to make recordings and artwork by themselves, to give to friends and loved ones.
    • A fan-created and solely fan-invested Playbutton, where an artist signs up to release or make a new recording of whatever the fans vote for. Besides the intriguing result of the voting, the process leading up to the recording would make the perfect kick-start and social media campaign.
    • If James Murphy ever wants to make another epic piece of music like LCD Soundsystem’s 45:33 collaboration with Nike, then this would be the perfect format.

    Technical Features

    • 2GB of memory space
    • 5 hour lithium battery that is re-chargeable through a USB cable
    • On/off through connecting and disconnecting the headphones
    • Controls for volume, play, pause and skip are on the back

    By: Eric Welles Nyström

    Note: the first album releases on a Playbutton started in March, with the first bands being The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Oval, Mark Borthwick, Javelin, Bubbles, Mount Eerie and more.