Which celebrity-driven apps are worth downloading?

Sep 21, 2009
Games

From Lady Gaga to Chad “Johnson” Ocho Cinco, Americans are forever preoccupied with celebrity culture. So it is no surprise that an increasing number of celebrity- and personality-branded apps are available for your iPhone. But what makes these apps worth downloading? The answer is providing something different, something that can’t necessarily be found elsewhere or […]

From Lady Gaga to Chad “Johnson” Ocho Cinco, Americans are forever preoccupied with celebrity culture. So it is no surprise that an increasing number of celebrity- and personality-branded apps are available for your iPhone. But what makes these apps worth downloading?

The answer is providing something different, something that can’t necessarily be found elsewhere or something that plain makes sense in app format.

Lady Gaga, who already has four apps in the store, is the most recent musician to join forces with developer Tapulous, the makers of the popular Tap Tap Revenge, to create Lady Gaga Revenge ($4.99).

Other artists who have Tap Tap versions featuring their music include Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Weezer and Nine Inch Nails. Gaga likely won’t be the last musician to have a Tap Tap incarnation, but this is the type of win-win app opportunity PR teams should be looking for: one that provides additional exposure for the artist and provides the user with something extra (in this case, a game).

Kelly Clarkson Open Mic ($4.99) also stands out because it was the first app to take karaoke mobile. The interface is Rock Band-style, with the user attempting to keep an arrow on pitch as they sing along to five of Clarkson’s songs from her most recent album. Within the app you can also get Clarkson news, videos, tour dates, and even buy tickets, but those supplement the app’s real purpose. Plus, the user with the highest singing score can win a chance to sing with Clarkson at a concert sound check. The price point is steep for only five tracks, but if more songs are released in updates, fans of Clarkson should be pleased.

Rapper T-Pain and experimental musician Brian Eno are helping iPhone users to create new music with the respective apps I Am T-Pain ($2.99) and Bloom ($3.99). I Am T-Pain offers the same auto-tune technology professional rapplers rely on, and allows users to karaoke with T-Pain tracks or freestyle anything they like. Bloom is billed as a part instrument, part composition and part artwork app, allowing users to create unique patterns and melodies by tapping randomly on the screen.

Rapper Snoop Dogg took his app, Snoop Dogg iFizzle Soundboard (99 cents), in an entirely separate direction, focusing not on his music, but instead on 16 of his most popular catchphrases.

These celeb apps have the right idea, however, the bulk of musician apps, such as No Doubt TV (free), George Strait (free), and Enrique Iglesias — Official App ($1.99), are little more than glorified promotional sites that provide artist info, tour dates, news, the occasional song download, photos and videos. Fans can interact through a chat function, but I don’t think I’ve ever loved a band enough to give up a springboard slot just for little more than tour updates.

Musicians aren’t the only celebs with apps. Fashion designer Donna Karan has taken her existing Web site mobile, integrating her journal, travel anecdotes and Q&A section into her app Donna Karan (free). Users can submit questions to the designer through the app, as well as create a collection wish list. These features can be found on Karan’s website, but the store locator and immediate access to personal shopping services makes more sense in mobile format.

Newscaster Rachel Maddow has rolled out Rachel Maddow (free), which features video from her show and access to her Twitter and podcast. Although the interface is nice, until team Maddow implements app-only content, it makes more sense to stick to the show’s web page rather than sucking up iPhone bandwidth.

Athletes, too, are making the foray. Rock Software, the developers of the life-changing Run Pee Mobile, have been hard at work creating an app for Cincinnati Bengal Chad “Johnson” Ochocinco. Ocho Cinco, expected soon, is planned to have exclusive video, tips from the wide receiver, and photos along with news, fan pics and a Twitter snapshot—giving fans a more personal connection with Mr. 85. Ochocinco is developing a Web presence with his personal site and Twitter, but if his app sticks to exclusive content, fans will have a reason to make the purchase.

Rock Software also previously developed an app for New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, but it’s no longer available for download (A company rep wouldn’t elaborate why.)

I expect we’ll see more personality-branded apps developed for the iPhone and iPod touch in the near future. As long as developers stay away from strictly promotional content and give users something extra, they’ll likely see success.

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