For a Bob Dylan song, the app shows vintage photographs of Greenwich Village, news clippings and links to related artists (like Martin Scorsese, who directed the Bob Dylan documentary âNo Direction Homeâ). The goal is to present fans with a web of educational ârabbit holesâ to explore.
âWeâre going through the prism of music,â Mr. Roswell said, âbut itâs film, itâs fashion, itâs art, itâs news, itâs comedy â itâs everything that created that scene.â
The company has deals with publishers like Genesis Publications and Rockâs Backpages, a decades-deep archive of music journalism, as well as rock photographers like Jay Blakesberg; TunesMap receives a cut of any sales made through the app. (TunesMap also shows articles from The New York Times by using the paperâs programming interface.)
During its long gestation, the company secured two patents for its navigation system and raised $4.75 million from entertainment-industry veterans like Andy Summers, the guitarist for the Police, and Jerry Moss, one of the founders of A&M Records, and from the Visionary Private Equity Group.
âI produced a Hank Williams film with Tom Hiddleston that took 10 years to put together,â Mr. Roswell said, referring to the 2015 biopic âI Saw the Light.â âI wouldnât know any other way to do it. I just never let the vision die.â
The app is free, and it works when a user plays songs on Sonos from Spotify, Apple Music and other major streaming services. But in many ways, TunesMap runs counter to the trends of digital music consumption, which are moving toward simple mobile displays and programmed playlists.
Equipment costs are another potential barrier. The cheapest Sonos and Apple TV systems cost a total of $350. TunesMap said a minimal mobile version would also be available.
Reimagining liner notes for the digital age is a guiding concept, but Mr. Loyer, TunesMapâs director of user experience, said the company has tried to avoid the nostalgia of âOh, remember when we had liner notes.â
âThe real question,â Mr. Loyer said, âis how do we design the systems in such a way that values the real output of all the culture that surrounds a piece of music.â