Blue Note & Panasonic Strike Licensing Deal for Car Audio System

Music and cars have always gone well together. In a partnership to push the Blue Note brand into the automotive world, Blue Note Records signed a licensing deal with Panasonic to help develop and co-market a car audio system that would be tuned to the types of music featured in Blue Note's catalog, whose artists range from Thelonius Monk to Norah Jones and Gov't Mule. Neither company disclosed terms.

Panasonic's automotive infotainment business is the world's largest by revenue, capturing 12% of the $34.6 billion market for factory-­installed entertainment systems in 2012, according to estimates released last month by IHS.

Panasonic has done three other similar arrangements. Its first occurred a decade ago with producer/engineer Eliot Schneier, who helped develop Panasonic's ELS Surround Premium Audio System, currently installed in about 1 million Acura vehicles. Its second arrangement was with Fender, whose logo is on audio systems installed in several Volkswagen models, including the Beetle, Passat, Jetta and Tiguan. And in January, Panasonic teamed with Abbey Road Studios to create a line of custom car audio systems.

When Panasonic approached Blue Note in 2011, it invited label president Don Was, a Detroit native, into its studios for a listen. It played "Nick of Time," which Was produced and played piano on.

"Sitting in there, I felt like I was right back in the room I'd recorded that piece," Was says. "I remembered what it looked like, what it felt like. I was impressed by their ability to re-create that authenticity."

Panasonic hasn't yet identified a car manufacturer to pair with Blue Note. And because vehicle development cycles are lengthy, it might not be until 2015 or later that consumers can test-drive cars featuring these systems.