Enjoy some jazz with It’s Showtime!

It’s Showtime! is a new iOS app from SoulandJazz.com. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and does not feature in-app purchases or advertising, but does link to the SoulandJazz.com Web store to allow fans to purchase physical albums and other merchandise. The app is currently featured in the New & Noteworthy section of the App Store front page.

It’s Showtime! is primarily intended as an app to showcase both SoulandJazz.com’s various radio-like shows as well as music from the labels the website supports. There are several main components to the app — a music player, an artist search facility, a means of quickly and easily accessing the SoulandJazz.com website and access to the SoulandJazz.com shop.

The main focus of the app is on a series of hour-long mixes on a selection of themes. These may be streamed directly to the app, and the built-in music player shows users details of the track they are currently listening to on the show, including the artist, track, album and year of release. Tapping on the album art while listening in the app takes the user to the iTunes Store to buy the album if it is available. Facebook and Twitter buttons on the music player also allow access to social features — though all the Facebook button does is open SoulandJazz.com’s Facebook page in Safari. The Twitter button, meanwhile, uses iOS5+’s Twitter connectivity to allow users to share the track they are currently listening to. The Tweet mentions the It’s Showtime! app, but doesn’t provide an App Store link, which seems like a missed opportunity.

The Artist Search function, meanwhile, allows users to browse through the artists featured in the currently-available mixes — it’s actually not a true “search” function at all, though it does make use of the “phone directory”-style alphabet bar on the right side of the screen to allow quick jumping to specific letters. Tapping on an artist name in the Artist Search function takes the user to a list of the mixes in which they appear, but it does not jump the playback position to where the artist in question appears. Tapping on the track’s details on the music player screen does allow for quick jumping to the point in the show where the track/artist appears, however.

On the whole, It’s Showtime! is a great means of discovering new music in a specific genre, though the app could do with a few tweaks here and there. It’s an attractive app with a distinctive aesthetic, but one piece of core functionality is a little frustrating — there’s no way of browsing the rest of the app’s content at the same time as listening to one of the shows. Instead, switching away from the music player display stops it playing altogether, though playback may optionally be resumed when the user goes back to the same show. The app does allow background playing through iOS multitasking, however, which means that other apps may be used while one of the shows is playing.

Ultimately, It’s Showtime! is ever only going to appeal to a specific audience of music fans, but it’s a good example of how to cater to such a specific audience and coule be very easily adapted to other genres of music. It’s straightforward to use, simple to navigate and offers a good selection of content for free, and also provides the opportunity for users to find out more or to purchase merchandise to support the service. With a bit of spit and polish here and there — particularly better Facebook connectivity and the ability to browse the rest of the app while a show continues playing — it will become a great mobile service for fans of soul and jazz music.

You can follow It’s Showtime!’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.