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Blue Note label to offer downloads'n'social on web

Wrinkle-funk bonanza foretold

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Jazz and blues record label Blue Note plans to revamp its website from later this month, transforming it from a regular corporate front window to a combined social network and music download shop.

The move could be seen as flying in the face of conventional marketing wisdom. Jazz fanciers are assumed to spend their music-buying time grubbing for vinyl in backstreet shops, getting dust all over their berets and corduroy jackets with elbow patches.

But Blue Note says it isn't so. Perhaps theorising that many jazz buffs have now been bought iPods by their children, they want to see the hardware brought into play: rather than lying unused in a drawer while the 78 LPs spin on the whirl'n'crackle.

"[Wrinkly technophobes] need to be brought into the fold," Blue Note general manager Zach Hochkeppel told Reuters on Friday.

And Blue Note, the record label that's old-school as opposed to old-skool, reckons it's the one to do it. Its current website has a "Buy" option for a lot of the Blue Note catalogue, but this merely directs you to Amazon to buy a CD.

But soon you'll be able to get paid downloads, not to mention unspecified "social networking" features. Blue Note wants to push this hard.

"No marketing and no attention is usually paid to an older demographic," according to Hochkeppel. "They're sort of ignored and neglected by media in general. Youth is always the first and foremost target."

But those pesky kids don't have any money, whereas lifespan-challenged aficionados of mellow funk have loads, apparently. And having got a bit old for other beatnik consumer goods - high-tar French cigs, absinthe, etc - the grey goatee mob like spending it on music.

"It's a tiny fraction [of digital music buyers], but they're people who buy a massive amount of music," Hochkeppel said.

Still, there's some risk that if the oldsters realise they could simply rip their existing vast collections of records and CDs to hard disk, they might just do that - rather than buying all their music yet again. That generation has in some cases bought a lot of its music on three different formats already.

But Blue Note isn't alone in hoping to mulct the wrinklies yet again. As Reuters notes, Universal Music has been doing this since January. ®

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