Blue Note Records, the renowned American Jazz record label that since 1939 has developed and released the work of some of the genre's most important icons - including John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Jimmy Smith and Cannonball Adderley, among others -- has launched what is possibly the most promising label-oriented Spotify application to date. The Spotify Blue Note App was developed by Blue Note and Manchester-based digital agency Retrofuzz for the purposes of providing an innovative way of introducing jazz to new generations.
"In the great tradition of Blue Note Records, our new Spotify app pushes the boundaries of the digital listening experience," said Don Was, President of Blue Note Records in a press release. "Catering to both the educated aficionado and new fans alike, this innovative interface provides music fans with a clean, user-friendly doorway to hours of discovery and musical gratification."
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Until now, label-focused Spotify applications have provided very little value and utility. Other than featuring curated playlists, apps by Def Jam, Domino, Warner, and Matador do little more than provide users with information and tour dates around their rosters' newest releases. Furthermore, fans already know most of their favorite artists are on Spotify, leaving little value to be derived by fans using these applications other than raising awareness about the label.
"Blue Note is virtually synonymous with jazz music and their new app is a great example of music experts taking advantage of the Spotify platform to foster deep music discovery and appreciation," said Steve Savoca, Spotify's Head of Content. "Our passionate users now have a curated experience to guide them through the vast amount of jazz music on Spotify."
What's so impressive is that Blue Note has released their entire catalog in this Spotify app format and has done so in way that facilitates discovery by connecting jazz that a user might not know, to music they probably do. The app's design and functionality allow the listener to discover by performer, album, style, instrument or year, providing several easy entry points into the music for jazz novices, as well as the ability for jazz experts to dive deep into Blue Note's unrivaled catalog.
The app also incorporates Spotify's social features such as building playlists and sharing favorite tracks with friends. Diving into the app, we can take a closer look at how these concepts have been baked into the app's different sections:
Visually, the Blue Note app is visually engaging and interactive in a way that encourages the user to experience the art close to how it might have been consumed decades ago by featuring large, colorful album art. Users can scroll through albums as if flipping through a stack of records using a slider that also notes the year the album was released.
The filter section below gives users a truly innovative way to organize content, giving new and existing jazz enthusiasts alike a way to filter the timeline above by instruments, years, and style. Enjoy the saxophone but are partial to tenor sax? There's a drop down for that, which involves a whole other level of metadata integration beyond simple genre filters.
One of the greatest ways to discover new music is to find an artist you already like and find out who they've worked with who is influenced by their style. The Blue Note app's artist section is facilitates this kind of discovery. This section features wonderfully written artist bios while simultaneously placing their careers in historical context.
Blue Note 101:
New to jazz? This section is a great place to start with Blue Note has providing historical context and stylistic breakdowns with artist example of each.
Blue Note Beats:
For what is perhaps the app's best application, Blue Note partnered with the Hip Hop sample community WhoSampled  in order to give people a way to explore Hip Hop's DNA through the jazz that it samples. The app illuminates rap's interconnected network of DJs, Producers, and the Jazz artists they sample. By embedding a feature that allows users to explore this interplay, Blue Note is helping to place dated and often forgotten jazz tunes in their rightful modern context. Simply type a jazz or hip hop artist into the search bar, and the connections are displayed below. Similar to how it's presented on Whosampled.com, Spotify even starts each track where the sample that connects the two songs occurs - very cool.
Shop & Follow:
These last two sections are all about the label. Shop is one of the first ever commerce-oriented sections on Spotify that gives users the option to browse Blue Note gear right from the application page. Follow facilitates mailing list signup and links out to Blue Note's various social presences.
Overall, Blue Note has pushed Spotify apps into exciting and unchartered territory with features that allow visual and interactive browsing and immersive discovery. Most importantly they've provided a complete digital listening experience that gives users many reasons to keep coming back.