Classical Music Experimenting With Modern Business Models

from the mozart-cast dept

We pointed out last year that classical music labels were quite shortsighted in their opposition to the BBC's making recordings of Beethoven available for free. Considering that classical music already suffers from low sales and many people find it intimidating, making it more freely available, should increase the popularity of the genre. It seems like the industry is getting the message, albeit slowly. Labels are now embracing digital downloads (still through paid services) like iTunes, dipping into their large archives, and releasing concert recordings soon after they happen. Already, they've seen some renewed interest and an uptick in sales. But does it make sense for the industry to be charging for downloads at all? The biggest risk, for classical music, is that people stop caring about it entirely. Furthermore, because there is a huge difference between the live and recorded classical music experience, free downloads should only bring more people to live concerts. Another advantage is that since all of the composers are long dead, they don't even have to bother with sticky issues, like songwriter royalties for recordings and broadcasts. It's a positive sign that the head of one distributor is openly talking about monetizing file trading, as opposed to fighting it. It would be quite ironic if the oldest form of music led the way in reshaping the business in the modern era.


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  1.  
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    dorpus, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 11:37am

    The live experience is better?

    You mean having to dress up and sit quietly for 2 hours, not allowed to cough or anything, is a pleasure? That's if anyone knows how to play classical instruments well anymore. We cannot change sound settings at live concerts to turn down the annoying tuba. Or do we want to watch midget monkeys with yellow skin hysterically playing the violin? Classical music playing has been outsourced to Asian countries since a long time ago.

     

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    Erik, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 11:45am

    "Or do we want to watch midget monkeys with yellow skin hysterically playing the violin? Classical music playing has been outsourced to Asian countries since a long time ago."

    Wow, lookie there! An ignorant bigot!!!

    The toughest part classical orchestras have vis a vis digital distribution is that orchestras are unionized and the union contracts that orchestras and opera companies have with the musicians generally do not permit digital distribution.

     

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  3.  
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    dorpus, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 11:54am

    So we should enjoy European classical music played by non-Europeans, since Europeans don't know how to play it anymore? It appears that symphonic orchestras are going the way of socialism.

    But then, the same thing is happening to Asian martial arts, where most contemporary Asians consider martial arts embarrassing and old-fashioned, while martial arts studios in Asia are usually packed full of white guys eager to beat up people at bars.

    Why not have Extreme Violin Violence XXII?

     

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  4.  
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    Erik, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 12:13pm

    Keep digging there dorpus.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 1:40pm

    I've long been disappointed in the fact that there are so few free downloads of classical music. I would certainly be exploring more facets of classical music if it was available free - or at least much cheaper than it is currently. Many single CD classical titles are in the $20 plus range with some at $30 or more.

    For example, I rather like Messiaen's "Quartet For the End of Time" (which was cheap at about $12) but looking at Amazon.com I see most of his stuff at the $16-17 range and a notable few at over $30.

    Surely there are college orchestras who are playing this stuff and from whom I might be able to get a downloadable taste. Generally if I like music I'll buy it on CD, but I'm not going to buy stuff without having a chance to listen to it a few times to see how I like it. And while things like Vivaldi are often available at decent prices, more modern composers are much harder to find.

    Certainly there are copyright issues for the composer - but Messiaen (for example) is dead and oddly enough I don't feel like I owe his family (or whoever bought the copyrights) much - if anything.

     

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  6.  
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    Smacky Mouse, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 1:47pm

    Get a grip

    The sooner the music industry collapses, the better. The sheer gall they exhibit by claiming that, if they go, the music goes, is astounding.

    Once they're gone, we will be able to download the music we love. Sure, perhaps the era of the rock megastar will end, but who cares? Are we really going to miss the antics of those like Mikey Jackson? Even "normal" rockstars are usually coked up ass-heads with all the sociologically redemptive qualities of an engorged cyst.

     

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  7.  
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    JL, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 2:20pm

    "The sooner the music industry collapses, the better. The sheer gall they exhibit by claiming that, if they go, the music goes, is astounding.

    Once they're gone, we will be able to download the music we love. Sure, perhaps the era of the rock megastar will end, but who cares? Are we really going to miss the antics of those like Mikey Jackson? Even "normal" rockstars are usually coked up ass-heads with all the sociologically redemptive qualities of an engorged cyst."

    couldn't have said it better myself...

     

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  8.  
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    Tom, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 2:28pm

    I prefer the character and sound of a live performance to that of a Pro Tools masterd recording. I would be willing to buy concert recordings if they were not altered at all.

    As it is, most of my classical music comes in the form of 'discount bin' CDs that the big stores can't move.

     

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  9.  
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    Paul, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 3:29pm

    As long as System of a Down keeps pumping out their wacky subliminal message propaganda then I'm a happy pumpkin

     

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  10.  
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    darryl collins, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 9:24pm

    Downloads and concerts

    "Furthermore, because there is a huge difference between the live and recorded classical music experience, free downloads should only bring more people to live concerts."

    How many rights owners stage concerts? My guess is not many. So how to rights owners cover costs and make money to invest in new recordings?

     

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    Adam W, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 9:25pm

    These aren't selling well, so if we give them away for free they moght sell better....

    If I can't monetize the genre, why should I care to popularize it? T-shirt and concert sales?

     

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    Erik, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 5:25am

    How many rights owners stage concerts? My guess is not many. So how to rights owners cover costs and make money to invest in new recordings?

    The musical composition is generally out of copyright (although more recent composers work is usually not). The recorded performance is copyrighted and that copyright is usually owned by the people who staged the performance.

     

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  13.  
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    Anit-Dorpus, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 10:47am

    Re: The live experience is better?

    I've been seeing your comments on several Techdirt forums today, and I must say, you never have anything valid to say.

    So please, the next time you read something on Techdirt, or any website, and you have a thought... just... let it go. No one wants to hear from you.

     

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