January 13, 2011 at 10:44 am

Discovr Elegantly Delivers World of Music to iPad

We’re surrounded by more music than ever these days. It’s easy to get lost.

Luckily, maps exist — most recently, Discovr for iPad ($3), which displays the relationships between millions of artists in a sort of “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” sort of way. Start with any band or artist, and wend your way through the world of music. We’ve seen web apps that do more or less the same thing (LivePlasma in particular springs to mind).

But with Discovr, released by Jammbox on Thursday, much of the magic happens after you double-tap an artist. This brings up a comprehensive dashboard of sorts where you can hear their songs, see their videos, read their bio, find out what the blogs are saying about them, take in their official reviews, and visit them on MySpace, Last.fm, iTunes and Amazon:

You can access much of what there is to know about an artist on a single screen. (And yes, to whatever nimwit wrote the top blog post listed above, people actually listen to Deerhunter.)

Discovr’s interface is slick and easy to grasp, though it carries a heavy payload of information. You can scroll through each section separately, swiping YouTube videos horizontally and each of the individual text sections below vertically. (Disclosure: Discovr is powered by 7Digital, YouTube, and The Echo Nest, publisher of Evolver.fm.)

Tapping on any band makes it the center of another set of six.

Of course, an app like this wouldn’t be worth much without the ability to listen to music, because one can only take so much dancing about architecture in a single sitting. Discovr comes through in that regard by embedding YouTube videos — a solution that is better than it might sound.

YouTube is by far the most comprehensive free source of music on the planet — a fact not lost on listeners. Neilsen released a study this week finding that YouTube accounts for approximately three times as much music listening as the “legal” downloads purchased from iTunes and other music stores). And because the YouTube videos play in little windows within Discovr’s artist page, your iPad won’t have to load the videos separately in its own YouTube app, which would have been a major drag.

To keep up with blog posts and news about the bands you care about the most, you can add them to the Favorites strip at the bottom of the screen.

The Discovr app combines many things that are freely available into a supremely digestible package, which lives up to its name by introducing the user to all sorts of bands they should know, but don’t.

On one hand, $3 might be considered a lot to pay for that. On the other, we’re hard pressed to think of another music discovery tool that makes learning about and listening to bands ranging from the obscure to well-known this easy — and fun.

The world of music is simply too large and bewildering to tackle without a map, and this is a good one.

Update: New details emerged after an email conversation with Jammbox’s David McKinney. Future versions of the app will include a music module powered by 7Digital, augmenting the music in the YouTube videos, and the ability to scan your iTunes library in order to automatically populate the Favorites bar with your most-frequently-played artists.