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New Ways to Listen to Classical Music (2024)

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Classical music concert in Paris Philharmonie

Where is the sweet middle ground where easy access and higher value intersect?

Everyday Classical

Classical music is serious composed music, which traditions are rooted in Western culture and stem from the Classical Period of art music (1750-1820), but listening today is certainly not the same as it used to be. Contemporary classical music is often found to be in the background of everyday life, in advertising, in television and movies, or where people gather socially like in restaurants for example.

People still go to see the orchestra and radio stations still play 200 year old compositions but how most people listen to classical music has dramatically changed. For instance, check out the plethora of innovated ways classical and art music enthusiasts are reshaping the establishment at the Classical Next festival, coming soon to Rotterdam, NL, May 16th - 19th 2018.

Our listening habits today are heavily linked to three keys: accessibility, time, and novelty. The easier the music is to access, the less time it takes to discover, but usually with such easy access the less caliber of novelty the experience actually offers. With an increased novelty, such as actually going to see the orchestra, the more time is takes to arrange and the less accessible it might be, for instance, the concert could be sold out and you might have to make an extra effort to get your tickets early.

Specialised Classical

So where is the sweet middle ground where easy access and higher value intersect? It seems to be quite noticeable in listening platforms with specialized productions. Such as with music streaming services that offer something unique. For instance, the streaming service IDAGIO with its expanded data and interface structure which allows listeners to greater search engine capability when searching for specific criteria that makes classical music so special, not just the composers but the players who performed the music, such as the conductor, the orchestra, the soloist etc.

Screenshot Idagio streaming Gustav Mahler

IDAGIO also uses a proprietary data model in which artists are paid per second of playback rather than per play, making it a user-centric payment model. This means that artists are paid per second streamed than per track streamed and when it comes to classical music tracks can be in excess of 20 minutes long or more. This is much fairer to the artist.

Or take for example Qobuz, the French platform specializing in High-Resolution Audio files. Qobuz offers more than 40 million titles available for streaming in CD quality (FLAC 16 Bits / 44.1kHz) and also provides a digital music downloading service, offering downloads in "Hi-Res" quality (24 bits). They are also one of the streaming services that use lossless compression. Lossless compression is a class of data compression algorithms that allows the original data to be perfectly reconstructed from the compressed data, though the file sizes are quite large and take more time to download.

In contrast, normal streaming compression is only an approximation of the original data, making it easy to stream but at the loss of the best possible quality. Qobuz also prides themselves on the fact that they have a team of classical music experts who handpick new music amongst thousands of tracks they receive every day to bring you the best in what is new and interesting.

Blue Qobuz logo on clear blue background

Other new platforms of idiosyncratic 'live' classical music experiences have emerged and become especially popular, such as the Yellow Lounge. Yellow Lounge was established in the Berlin club scene and has over the past decade spread around the world. The concept is to take the classical music experience into the club scene and fuse the best international classical performers with the foremost DJ and VJ sets. It's a fluid and 'specialised' concept which often changes venues and which you must sign up to its mailing list on its website in order to know where and when the next Yellow Lounge will be. It is a distinctive project created by Deutsche Grammophon, one of the best-known classical labels in the world, in an effort to bring classical music to a new audience.

Professional Classical

So what is it like to be a professional classical musician in this new world? How do you satisfy your listeners and what is important in the process? In Part two of this article we'll sit down with composer and pianist Federico Albanese for an interview. His new album 'By the Deep Sea' was released in February 2018 with the label Berlin Classics Neue Meister/Edel and has been garnering much acclaim. To catch Federico Albanese live is an experience not to be missed, find his current tour dates and listen to his playlist.

To go a bit further, check out our guide "How to distribute a classical music release?".

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