Several weeks back I had a post about the success of classical music in the digital download market. You'll find that post here.
I mention it because it seems good background for reading a post this week over at Alex Ross' fine blog "The Rest is Noise". You'll find it all nicely bundled and referenced here.
Ross, in response to a piece by Steve Metcalf, says "A couple of years back, I speculated that classical music might thrive in unexpected ways in an iPod culture because it could be disseminated as pure musical data, free of cultural stereotypes." Not sure about the "free of cultural stereotypes" part, but I think I know what he's getting at and I think time has proved that speculation right. A few choice grafs:
Ross: " On iTunes they can sample different kinds of music, make a low-risk $0.99 or $9.99 purchase, and go on from there. Apple's habit of regularly featuring new classical releases on the main page of the iTunes Store is surely one of the best things that's happened to classical music in a long time: finally the work is out there in the main cultural arena."
That echoes Universal's Joseph Grubners: ""It's great for people new to classical. It's very easy to sample a single track at a very low cost. It's a low-risk purchase. On the one hand, if you are an expert classical consumer the digital medium is also great. You can (or will be able to) access a vast repertoire of recordings and artists."" (link).
From that same article's there this: "We see the web as essential to the way we think about audience development and education," said the Philharmonia's Alice Walton." I think that's about right, but probably too early to say how it actually shakes out. I wonder if that will translate into gains in the area of audience development. Perhaps, but I'm not so sure. Not without change in the very thing the audience itself is coming to see.
iTunes isn't the only bright spot in Cyberspace for classical music lovers. The classical selections on "Rhapsody" are pretty good. I'm happy.
There are also loads of other interestesting classical music podcasts available on the NPR website that are worth checking out. You'll find it here.