The Second Disc

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Brave New World: Catalogue Labels Take to Spotify for Featured Content

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When it first launched in America in November of last year, Spotify looked like it might be the answer to the question of how to move music consumption into the digital frontier in a positive way. It’s no secret the music industry has been crippled by technological advances labels were unfortunately not able to predict or adapt to very quickly, and it’s thrown the nature of buying, collecting and immersing oneself into music the way we once did into question.

But Spotify’s model – where, either through a free, ad-based model or nominal subscription service, fans can stream millions of tracks and albums, create playlists and sync their music to multiple devices for listening anywhere – is a godsend if used properly, so it’s only natural that the industry would follow suit. Last week, amid a string of new and featured applications Spotify users can add to their listening (including specialized playlists and featured content from Billboard and Rolling Stone), two of our beloved catalogue labels launched their own unique experiences with which to enjoy and discover both new and classic music.

Warner Music Group’s The Warner Sound may feature Saul Bass’ vintage “W” logo, but there’s no time like the present over there. There’s a heavy emphasis on new music, but the “Family Tree” feature ties a current hit to classic Warner bands that an artist might take their cues from. Power-pop band fun., whose hit “We Are Young” has been a refreshing chart-topper for several weeks, get tied to other quirky power-pop acts like The Format, Jellyfish, They Might Be Giants and Big Star, while country star Blake Shelton’s music traces its roots to Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam and Neil Young.

The Warner Sound is also a home for several artist and personality-curated playlist series, taking a page from Rhino’s early Rhinofy playlist venture. Actor Fred Armisen, punk icon Henry Rollins, music industry insider Bob Lefsetz and our good friends at Slicing Up Eyeballs have all presented playlists, and others pay tribute to classic artists like The Grateful Dead or Rhino box sets like Whatever: The ’90s Pop Culture Box and No Thanks! The ’70s Punk Rebellion.

Legacy Recordings also recently revealed their own app, The Legacy Of. Like The Warner Sound, The Legacy Of draws deeply from Sony/Legacy’s rich history of classic artists and devises four playlists for each: a selection of their greatest works, mixes of artists counted as influences and artists the act in question would influence and notable covers. Daryl Hall and John Oates, for instance, have Maroon 5, Terence Trent D’Arby, George Michael, Train and Justin Timberlake in their “followers” playlist and covers by everyone from Nina Simone and Lou Rawls to Paul Young and Everclear. (While the lack of traditional soul artists in their “influences” playlist is confusing – the list leans heavier on blues-rock pioneers like Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – we imagine you get the general idea.) The Legacy Of only counts Hall and Oates, Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Miles Davis in their app so far, and doesn’t provide much in the way of biographical information. But it’s a promising start.

Perhaps, before too long, we’ll see all of our favorite catalogue labels represented as Spotify apps, bringing one of the best of music fandom – the sharing – back into the mix.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 26, 2012 at 11:20

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