Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Free live streaming video of classical concerts at

Album sales of classical music have been on the decrease for years now. Finally this downward trend seems to have bottomed out. Digital sales have helped boosting the bottom line of the main labels, and  predictions are digital sales will surpass CDs by 2013. But there are other business models popping up in the the classical music recording arena.

Subscription business model

The hottest business model on the block is the subscription based model. For a low monthly fee (usually around $10) you will get access to an overwhelming variety of classical music. Already in 2003, Naxos started off their subscription based streaming audio services with a wide variety of choice; an excellent source for xenophiles like me. I gladly made use of this service during my studies at the University of British Columbia, but, after finishing my DMA I must admit I have not subscribed to their paid service (yet).  

First audio, now video

With internet speeds continuously on the increase, on-demand video streaming has become the new normal. In 2008 the now popular Netflix started their subscription based video service, streaming popular TV shows and movies to their US customers. As soon as their subscription became available here in Canada, we signed up and were amazed! It’s got tons of shows and movies, it is a fast on-demand experience, easy to use, and, perhaps one of the best features, there are no annoying commercials.

Classical music, please!

Netflix is great, but how about some serious classical music? to the rescue! streams live concerts free of charge. Yes, free of charge! So where’s the catch?

How will make money's is hoping that the serious music aficionado would like to have 24/7 access to the complete library, which will grow over time. With a free account only the latest live registrations can be viewed for a total of 60 days. To obtain unlimited access to the live registrations, as well as access to several 100s of movies/documentaries on music, one will have to upgrade to a paid subscription (starting at 6.50 euro/month).   

Worth it?

Good question, and somewhat hard for me to answer. I think the business model is right, and the free viewing of live concerts will help quickly buzz. But I wonder if the choice of music, which is rather conservative, will connect with a younger (and future) audience?

Conclusion offers a great service, with reasonable rates for their unlimited on-demand services. Let's hope their choice of live registrations will become more inclusive (think Naxos) soon. 

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