by Dennis Yang
Mon, Oct 22nd 2007 6:07pm
Back in 2005, the BBC made all nine of Beethoven's symphonies available for free download -- a move that made classical record label executives absolutely livid. We thought that their fear was short sighted, considering that the BBC was helping the classical music genre gain millions of listeners for free. A few years have passed now, and it looks like those record executives may finally be realizing that the Internet is, in fact, good for them. The classical music industry, struggling prior to 2000, is now on a huge rebound due largely to the Internet. Classical music labels are seeing record sales this year, now that the Internet allows music buyers access to their complete libraries of music, which would be completely impractical in a brick-and-mortar store. Classical music benefits more from the "long tail" since not only are there centuries of music from which to draw -- each piece is likely to have multiple recordings, resulting in a vast catalog. Furthermore, the Internet affords users with much richer music discovery process -- through blogs, YouTube, and sites like Michael Tilson Thomas' Keeping Score, where the San Francisco conductor leads a series of educational broadcasts, intended to educate listeners about classical music. It's nice to see that after initially being freaked out by change, the classical music world is now embracing these new technologies -- in the end, everyone benefits, listeners gain access to more music, and musicians and composers are able to expose their music to more people, oh, and yes, the labels do end up building a better business.
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