Thursday, July 21, 2005

More on Beethoven and the BBC

The BBC's enormously successful "Beethoven Experience (BE)" continues to generate chatter and, I hope, further innovation. The BE even enjoyed more downloads (about 1.4 million) than Bono as Jessica Duchen notes her blog. What's more, I think she has absolutely hit on what ought to be the take-home point for the suits:

"...people DO want great classical music. They just need to be able to GET AT IT easily. That doesn't mean dumbing-down or doing crossover. It just means changing the means by which the best stuff is made available."

And perhaps they are taking note, at least judging by this article in PC Pro by Simon Aughton. he writes:

"Record labels' classical music bosses are reassessing their policy on downloads, having been taken by surprise by the figures. It has been thought for a while that the genre was in terminal decline, and little effort has been made to exploit the rise of digital music"

But I can't help but wonder if "classical music bosses" are altogether ready to think outside the box in the digital age:

However Matthew Cosgrove, director of Warner Classics, warned against too many similar giveaways, fearing that a proliferation of free music will hit sales (where have we heard that before?)."

Then there is this factoid at the bottom of Aughton's article: The download and sale of Classical music through iTunes's music store exceed physical sales.

Sifted another way, however, the marriage of digital technologies and classical music production(s) raise for some cautionary questions and concerns. Pliable's fine blog On An Overgrown Path has done an admirable job of articulating such . A recent post cuts to the quick:

"I completely understand the compelling argument that free downloads such as these Beethoven Symphonies widen the audience for classical music. By the same token I look forward to attending the free concert performance that the BBC will be offering of Siegfried at next year's Prom season to bring Wagner to a wider audience. And if that is not financially possible, why do we have to pay a fair rate to the star musicians who sit with us in the concert hall, but not to those hidden away in a recording studio? "

Check out that post as well as " Is recorded classical music too cheap? "

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