Primed for Innovation

Louis Jordan – Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t (My Baby)

Louis Jordan’s Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t (My Baby) was released by American Decca in 1944. There’s something really sweet about it.

At the time it was released, American Decca was run by Jack Kapp. Kapp’s father was a record  who opened an important record shop in Chicago. Kapp went on to open the Kapp Record Store in New York. It became a hang out of jazz musicians who would often  jam there. During his time at Decca, Kapp pursued the jukebox market, dramatically reduced the price of records for consumers, widely expanded the musical styles Decca released, and also adopted the innovative practice of releasing records whose sleeves featured album art.

It’s hard for me to imagine a time before album art was the norm. Thinking about his history before Decca, it’s clear that hi innovative choices were inspired by his history as a record shop owner and experience with his customer base. Adding artwork added value to the records themselves while also making the record buying experience more poetic in general.

I wonder if there is an equivalent product/experience innovation that today’s “record industry” is ready for.

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