Transmedia – A Map Of The Floating City

Bringing music into the world of transmedia storytelling can be difficult; being established as a band or a musician is one thing, but to then spread that onto further platforms brings with it difficulties. One good example of an artist that successfully did this however, is Thomas Dolby, famous for his synth pop music of the early-80’s new wave … For his 2010 album A Map Of The Floating City, which was divided up into three separate sections, Dolby decided to release all of these parts individually; the first was released digitally for download, then was the second and then the third and final part of the album was premiered online as part of the Map Of The Floating City game. This brought his music onto a new media platform helping to promote and at the same time distribute this third part of his album.

The Floating City is set against a dystopian vision of the 1940s that might have existed had WWII turned out a lot differently … survivors explore a fictional Google map, forming tribes and trading relics amid a bizarre sea-going barter society. As they struggle to unravel the enigma that is the Floating City, players can haggle over merchandise and music downloads — including brand-new songs from A Map of the Floating City.

This was Dolby’s first album in 20 years, so perhaps the idea to link an online multiplayer transmedia game was a conscious decision of his. His audience, who would have been his fan base from previous years of record making, were introduced to this game as a challenge; something unique to interactive with as opposed to just going out and buying or downloading the album. Bringing it into a game scenario makes the audience become competitive and the want for the new album or a song from it is even higher than perhaps normally would be. He has a strong following so perhaps for them, this interactive online game did not come as a surprise, its presence shows that as an artist, Dolby is trying to keep that closeness between the audience and his continuous story through his music; he is letting them feel empowered and rewarded for it at the same time.

The concept of the transmedia game works as it is using Dolby’s music to bring together an audience through a different platform, and at the same time encouraging social interaction, always with the audience in mind, providing for their wants and needs. The project could have been extended further by incorporating social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to encourage audience participation and discussion of the album even further.

The more windows people are viewing the world through, the more complex their interpretations are … As described by Kevin Human in a TEDx Creative Coast talk, the wider the platforms the wider audience market you’re reaching out to.

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