Blue Note Records Launches iTunes Destination, Radio Station For 75th Anniversary (Exclusive)

Blue Note Records launched an iTunes destination page Tuesday, making every in-print Blue Note title from its 75-year history available in one place. The site will also feature Blue Note Radio, one of the first label-branded radio stations on Apple's iTunes Radio.

The new service is part of the label's 75th anniversary celebration that includes performances, exhibitions and film screenings this week at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. As well, Blue Note is releasing 75 vinyl reissues, multiple jazz compilations and new music across multiple genres.

"There are really only a handful of labels where the vibe and aesthetic were so strong that you could identify a record before you know who was singing or playing on it or by the look of it," says Blue Note's president Don Was, who joined the company as chief creative officer in 2011. "(Photographer/designer) Reid Miles and (engineer/studio owner) Rudy Van Gelder provided a sonic and a graphic thing that few labels have -- Motown, Chess Records, Stax. If you identify with the vibe and have a destination within the iTunes all around the world, that's major."

The Blue Note destination will feature a monthly Artist Spotlight that begins with a look at Herbie Hancock's Blue Note releases from the 1960s, "Empyrean Isles," "Maiden Voyage" and "Speak Like A Child" among them. Was will provide a monthly podcast titled "Now Hear This: Blue Note Records." More than 100 titles have been remastered for iTunes; the goal is to make every Blue Note title available in one place.

Coinciding with the new site is the release of a 75-track bundle titled "Blue Note 75" and six 10-track "Blue Note 101" compilations. A series of "Blue Note Select" collections will also be featured beginning with Miles Davis' "Take Off: The Complete Blue Note Albums" on May 19, followed by Clifford Brown's "Brownie Speaks: The Complete Blue Note Recordings" on June 10.

Key to the the site is its organization on multiple levels. Sections of the site are broken down in familiar ways - new releases, greatest hits, etc. - but also genres within jazz, lead instruments and "complete recordings" collections.

Alfred Lion founded Blue Note Records in 1939. The label was dormant between 1981 and '84 and since then has expanded beyond jazz through artists such as Norah Jones, Al Green, Amos Lee and others. The site will cover all periods of Blue Note's history.

Was related the new iTunes store to his own experiences as a teenager in detroit in the 1960s. "Every store would have different selections based on the individual owner," Was tells Billboard. "If we heard there was a Larry Young record across town, we'd get on the bus and go there. We didn't have the bread to pay for the album -- we'd just want to look at the record, hold it, read the liner notes. It would have blown our minds in 1965 if everything was in one spot."