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The Orchard adds iPhone apps to its arsenal

Specialist in digital marketing and distribution for independent labels and unsigned artists enables artists to create their own custom iPhone applications.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how Seattle company Melodeo had created an iPhone application for the band Presidents of the United States of America, which delivers the band's music in a direct stream, rather than forcing users to download (and pay for) each song individually.

On Thursday at South by Southwest (SXSW), digital-marketing and distribution specialist The Orchard announced that it's adding iPhone applications to its arsenal of tools.

The Orchard handles songs from more than 14,000 acts, focusing on musicians on independent labels such as Amphetamine Reptile, Ipecac, and Lookout (just to name three with which I'm familiar). Now artists--or, more likely, their labels or management teams--will be able to create a customized iPhone app through The Orchard's standard set of management tools.

The iPhone applications themselves will be developed by design and branding firm Fluidesign.

Artists will be able to offer as many songs as they like as free streams (a link will let users click to download the songs from the iTunes Store), as well as post photos and aggregated news from various sources (such as RSS feeds or Twitter streams, if the band is into such things). Musicians will be able to set their own prices, but The Orchard envisions this as a promotional tool rather than as a revenue generator, so it is encouraging its clients to offer them for free.

The first app available is for The Black Lips, but when you run a search for that band's name in iTunes, the app shows up listed only as Mobile Roadie, the name of the platform for iPhone apps developed by Fluidesign. This link will take you directly to the application in iTunes.