App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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EMI is doing some interesting things with app developers via their openEMI project. While the project is by no means limited to iOS, EMI proper, pairing with Groovebug and Blue Note Records - which was founded in 1939 and acquired by EMI in 1971 - chose the iPad to make it’s commercial debut. Blue Note by Groovebug offers a great free tour of the jazz label’s catalog with 30-second low-bitrate samples along with access to iconic album cover designs and even detailed liner notes, giving the package a vintage vibe with legit LP perks.
While the app functions as a free stand-alone product, in order to enjoy full tracks users must subscribe for $1.99/month. While the catalog is finite, it’s not all there yet and EMI promises new featured albums and artists along with new playlists from experts in various related fields each month to keep thing from getting stale. The upgrade also gets users higher-quality audio and access to extended photo galleries.
The app pays homage to one of the most venerable historic jazz labels and has sounds from the likes of Thelonious Monk and Jazz Messenger drummer Art Blakely in signature Hard Bop style, Modal Jazz with Andrew Hill and Sonny Clark along with other sub-genres like trios, tenors and post-Bop and recordings by giants including Baby Face Willette, Miles Davis and John Coltrane - all musical pioneers in their time.
The feature set is cool whether you love jazz or don’t know much about it. Along with the album art and music, there are well-written featured articles on topics like Blue Note’s history and Blue Note in NYC Jazz Clubs. Users can add curated playlists to their favorites and make new playlists of their own. Also included is basic social sharing to Tumblr and Twitter and extra Facebook integration allowing users to dedicate songs to friends and participate in conversations.
There is even artist backstory and discovery - those who want to learn more about the early avante-garde jazz scene can tap on a familiar name and get all their recordings, a fairly extensive bio, YouTube videos, news, photos, even original newspaper clippings. The last tab – Similar – toggles a neat turntable-like control, which users spin to see related artists.
Blue Note by Groovebug is a sweet package, worth the subscription if one loves jazz or wants to learn more. It’s not a comprehensive history of this uniquely American art form, but it digs into one label that helped shape the genre with enough depth and breadth to give it replay value. I’m eager to see what EMI and third parties do next with commercial OpenEMI apps on iOS, Spotify, and beyond.