Last year, we began to see curated music subscription services popping up here and there, which let music fans subscribe to a specific set of music, often with advanced features you won’t find on the more general services. Blue Note by Groovebug (free, iOS) led the way by allowing users to access music from the historic jazz label. Then we began to see artist subscriptions too.
Groovebug’s latest effort, Concert Vault for iPad (free, iOS) takes a different angle: rare, live audio and video recordings from the memorabilia archivist Wolfgang’s Vault, covering music from the ’50s onward.
Wolfgang’s Vault, which is also a music and merch store, already puts much of this stuff on iPhone and Android, but this iPad-specific version and Groovebug’s special touch amp up the experience. (As with the previous app, a subscription is required to access all the features; one month costs $4, with a seven-day free trial, so you can see what you might pay for in advance.)
Video in particular, shines in Concert Vault. You won’t find a glut of hit-or-miss videos, as with most other video repositories — just exclusive archival footage from sources including Ash Grove Blues, Bill Graham Presents, Daytrotter, the Newport Jazz/Folk Festivals, and Paste Magazine.
An AirPlay option lets you throw the video over to your television without having to exit the app. You can also send the sound to AirPlay-enabled or -connected speakers, which is well worth doing given that all of the audio is 320 Kbps.
Concert Vault borrows interface elements from Groovebug’s Blue Note app, which is a good thing. A scrollable list of all artists in the app’s catalog offers one great way to navigate, or you can sort by genre: rock, blues, jazz, country, folk & bluegrass, or indie. Once you select an artist, you’ll be able to stream rare performances, buy memorabilia, watch exclusive videos, and read artist bios and news. And whatever you’re doing, smart playlists and similar artists relationships follow around as you browse (in part with data from The Echo Nest, which publishes Evolver.fm).
The app is free, but only technically speaking, because accessing content requires a subscription ($4/month or $40/year) to Wolfgang’s Vault, with a 14-day free trial. If you’re on the fence after that, consider the incentives: members get two free weekly full-concert downloads (in addition to the unlimited streams). For a limited time, people who commit for a year get an exclusive vinyl record edition of a previously-unreleased Van Morrison concert at New York’s Bottom Line Club in 1978.
Exploring Wolfgang’s Vault on the web can be slightly overwhelming. The iPhone version offers cleaner navigation, but this stuff really needs a larger screen to make its full impression. Concert Vault for iPad, however, feels just right.
Note: Evolver.fm is on a reduced publishing schedule due due to family logistics on the part of the editor.