In Streaming Age, Classical Music Gets Lost in the Metadata

A report released last week by Midia Research, which studies online media, portrayed a classical market in transition, with a relatively small economic impact but wide potential. According to the report, which Idagio commissioned, classical recordings generated $384 million around the world last year. That’s a small piece of the $19.1 billion of sales revenue for all recorded music last year, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

But the Midia report, based on a survey 8,000 people, found signs of promise. Although the average age of a classical listener was 45, 31 percent of respondents ages 25 to 34 included classical among the genres they “like listening to.”

And not everyone in the classical world is convinced that Apple, Spotify and Amazon are bad for the business. Each of those companies has a vast customer base, with the potential to steer listeners to classical tracks. Increasingly, that has happened through mood-based playlists — “Relaxing Piano,” “Intense Studying” — that intersperse classical tracks with those from other genres.

Placement on a prominent Spotify playlist helped a recording of the slow movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata by Paul Lewis, a British pianist, reach 49 million plays, a number that plenty of pop acts would be happy with.

Those playlists “are exposing new, young audiences to classical music without them realizing initially that they are listening to classical music — they just know that they like what they are listening to,” Mark Mulligan of Midia said in an interview.

Such serendipity may be possible only if classical music exists on services alongside pop, hop-hop, country, Latin and the rest. Last year, the countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo released “ARC,” a Beyoncé-style visual album of pieces by Handel and Philip Glass, illustrated by videos directed by luminaries like Tilda Swinton and Mark Romanek.

Mr. Costanzo said he was frequently pinged on Instagram when new listeners encountered those videos, often on Apple Music.

Source link