The iPad app released by Blue Note Records on Thursday appears to offer a wonderful experience through the legendary jazz label's storied history. But the real kicker here is how the app was made.
The Blue Note app is the first commercially released product from OpenEMI, an initiative EMI created to give app developers access to EMI music and other content. Developers have apps in the works for artists such as Gorillaz, Tinie Tempah, Robbie Williams, Pet Shop Boys, Professor Green, AIR and Evanescence.
OpenEMI is structured to let developers focus on their product. The OpenEMI team clears the rights, facilitates discussion with artist and management and handles marketing. Developers retain rights to their IP (EMI licenses the apps for sale) and keep 40% of revenue generated. EMI keeps the remainder and pays all rights holders and covers marketing expenses.
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Available exclusively in the App Store in the U.S. and U.K. today, the app is free to download and offers an immersive experience with the legendary jazz label's catalog and artists. Subscribers who pay $1.99/£1.49 per month will be able to stream an initial catalog of over 1,000 tracks. More music and non-audio content will be added over time. Non-subscribers will be limited to 30-second audio clips.
OpenEMI represents a shift in thinking for a major label. It was created by Bertrand Bodson, EVP Global Digital at EMI Music. Bodson wanted EMI's artists to have great apps but knew they needed to tap outside sources.
"We have great teams to do apps and great conceptual concepts to work very closely with the artist, but at the same time we have to be honest that we're not the best one to develop them internally," Bodson told Billboard last month.
Bodson also knew developers typically faced too many licensing hurdles that prevented them from working with major label artists. The solution was to create a tool to provide a large catalog of already licensed music and other assets that could used in partnership with the label.
So EMI partnered with music intelligence company the Echo Nest to provide developers an API that gives access to pre-cleared assets used to build the apps. The Echo Nest has also partnered with Island Def Jam for a similar endeavor, although that has not yet produced a commercially available app.
OpenEMI now has over 50 proposals, in one stage or another, from 480 developers who have been granted 1,150 keys to use EMI's content. Some proposals are in an early stage, according to Bodson, while others have been discussed with artist management.