British Singer Beatie Wolfe Uses NFC, Other Technology to Bring Her Music Closer to Fans
The singer-songwriter weaves a tale of music history from the days of Lennon and Hendrix through to the present using a range of technology.
In one sense, Beatie Wolfe is a pretty traditional singer-songwriter who loves things like vinyl records and the old-school liner notes that accompanied those recordings.
“As a youngster, I wasn’t imagining how my music would sound, I was imagining how it would feel and how it would look,” Wolfe said in an interview at the recent DLD conference in Munich. “Of course music has become increasingly digitalized and that’s not a bad thing.”
After all, that’s what lets her music be heard far from her native England by fans around the world. And, indeed, you can find her music on digital stores, such as Google Play and the Apple App Store.
But Wolfe is also a pioneer in finding ways to use technology to connect with fans in new ways.
Her first album was released in 2013 as an iPhone app that had a companion experience that allowed Wolfe to appear in 3-D before fans when placed into a special plastic device with mirrors. Her latest album, “Montagu Square,” is available as a CD or digital download, but she’s also worked to make it accessible through a series of high-tech business cards from Moo that can be read by a smartphone using Near Field Communication — the same technology that the iPhone uses for Apple Pay.
Keeping that tangibility but also making it engaging to the tech audience, “that was something I was really interested in,” she said.
The “Montagu Square” album is named after the place where Wolfe recorded the album — a spot that happens to be a former home of John Lennon and Yoko Ono that served as a secret recording studio for Lennon as well as Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. When promoting the album, Wolfe wears a shiny gold coat created by David Mason (a.k.a. Mr. Fish), the Savile Row tailor who made suits for David Bowie and Hendrix in the 1960s. Embroidered on the coat is an interpretation of “Take Me Home,” one of her songs, with the stitching inspired by the sound waves, amplitude and other characteristics of the music. The coat is also NFC enabled, and tapping it offers up that track and a music video.
Wolfe’s next project looks at how new music can help people with dementia, an effort that will take her to Stanford University Hospital later this year, following an appearance at SXSW in Austin.