The Coda Collection Brings Archival Music Films New and Old To Amazon

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– Wild Stream
Jimi Hendrix performs at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, a performance captured in “American Landing: Jimi Hendrix Live at Monterey,” one of more than 140 archival music films now streaming on Amazon via The Coda Collection.

Long before the pandemic took physical touring offline and left streaming and digital content as the only ways for fans to connect with live performances, Jim Spinello, John McDermott and Janie Hendrix were conceptualizing an online hub for archival concert footage.

About a decade ago, McDermott and Hendrix, who manage the catalog and family trust, respectively, or late legend Jimi Hendrix, identified a problem: Hendrix’s vast trove of audio-visual content, like many legacy artists, didn’t have a logical, centralized place to live online.

“Why don’t we think about building an OTT network really specifically targeted toward the art of music,” Spinello, who has a background in technology entrepreneurship, recalls discussing with McDermott and Hendrix, inspired by the rise of digital platforms like Netflix in the ‘10s. “We would be genre-agnostic, era-agnostic, but focused in music, and really develop a better experience.”

In February, the project went live as The Coda Collection, a channel available as a $4.99 per month add-on for Amazon Prime subscribers and offering more than 140 features, most of them concert films.

Naturally, Coda is a trove for Hendrix fans, with a dozen films chronicling his career, including iconic sets at Monterey Pop, Woodstock and the Isle of Wight, plus new doc “Music, Money, Madness… Jimi Hendrix In Maui,” cobbled together from footage shot in July 1970 and released in late 2020.

Courtesy The Coda Collection

The Coda Collection is now available via Amazon Prime.

But the collection goes well beyond Hendrix, with content partners including Warner Music’s Rhino Entertainment, Concord Music, Mercury Studios, Reelin’ In The Years Productions and CREEM magazine. Sony Music Entertainment is an equity partner, and Yoko Ono is among the service’s co-founders. Subscribers have access to droves of live performances, from archival Aretha Franklin and Miles Davis gigs to sets recorded just last year by young upstarts like Billy Strings and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram.

Securing the rights for the collection – which will grow in the coming months – was a lengthy process, says Spinello, Coda’s co-founder and CEO, explaining that it took about three and a half years “to put together this consortium of amazing rights holders, artists, labels.” But with the Coda team’s commitment to devise digital distribution, artists were receptive, and each partnership inked encouraged further participation.

“With the credibility and the weight of the folks that we’re aligned with, it was a little bit easier to open doors,” Spinello says. “What that did, in turn, was open up a Pandora’s box of contemporary artists that wanted to be aligned with these people that changed the way you experience music.”

Though impressive on its own, the Amazon service is only part of Coda’s offering, which also includes a digital content platform featuring “collections” comprised of articles, video interviews, curated playlists, timelines and more to flesh out The Coda Collection’s videos. Longtime Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot, who left the paper after three decades in early 2020, is helming editorial for the site.

“What’s the deeper story?” Kot says. “Besides the video being really cool, what can we do to contextualize it and make it a richer experience for the viewer?”

Take Hendrix’s Maui film, the centerpiece of Coda’s “A Guitar God At The Volcano,” a collection with articles about the gig and the influence of “Easy Rider” on the footage, a playlist of music from Hendrix’s final year and a timeline of historical events from 1970.

Moreover, as a music fan, Coda has been a revelation for Kot, who cites sets by Simon & Garfunkel, Marvin Gaye, The Fall and Wu-Tang Clan as favorites currently on the platform.

“What I love about it is the diversity,” Kot says. “[Subscribers] will go [to Coda] because there’s a specific video that they know they want to see, but meanwhile, they’re going to run across all this other cool stuff, across a range of genres and generations, and go, ‘Oh, wow. I gotta check this out now.’”

While Coda’s platform certainly has breadth, Spinello and Kot predict its depth is what will give it lasting power once physical touring resumes.

“It certainly will not replace live, but it can be additive to live moving forward, that you have something really impactful for both artists and for fans,” Spinello says.

“One of the things you’re going to see over the next is it’s going to become even more broad,” Kot says. “Jim likes to say ‘Billie Holiday to Billie Eilish,’ and we truly mean that.”