The Rises of Classical Music in 2023

The year 2023 will indeed be anything but ordinary in classical music and in music by broadening horizons. Three new online listening platforms have radically changed choices and habits in this consumption mode for music lovers. In addition, two major independent publishers, Hyperion and Biz, have been sold. This is only the tip of a complex iceberg.

The big breakthrough for classical music in 2023 will be the arrival of Apple Classical, a dedicated online listening service launched at the end of March. The launch follows Primephonic's acquisition of one of the two services in August 2021 Streaming The databases that feed the most common services (Spotify, Amazon, Tidal, etc.) designed for pop music around musician-song-album citations are built around the idea that they are incapable of effectively containing the necessary information about composers, multiple artists, and more. Movements within a symphony lead to limitations in specifying and searching.

Three actors

Launched in 2015, Idagio and Primephonic, born out of the fold of Pentatone, were advertised on their interface and their database. “Classic” is reliable. Idagio survived. Primephonic was acquired by Apple, which took almost two years Reformer A service included in the Apple Music ecosystem, available only through apps for phones and tablets.

The surprise of 2023, especially in Quebec, was that in a few weeks, the entire landscape changed, as the long-awaited Qobuz, a high-quality listening platform, suddenly went live in mid-April, while Bristow, an online music retailer specializing in UK classical and jazz, launched its high-resolution in March. Started listening service.

Here are two scenarios. Qobuz took the place and customer file of QUB Music, which ceased operations in February, and is powered by a “traditional” database. Presto already had the right database, because by selling recordings and sound files, it only needed one gateway to play them.

What Presto adds is that, like Idagio, artists' “user-centric” pay is based on what people actually eat and the time they spend there, whereas in the “market-centric” logic » used elsewhere, the one-hour symphony occupies. 100 Musicians 2 minute song “Value”.

Personal experiences

What lessons can be learned after observing these new players for more than six months? The main lesson is that no journalist can make a firm or general judgment because listening methods are now individual.

In the past, a sound reproduction product was judged against music lovers sitting on a couch facing two speakers. The challenge is the “high fidelity” of this reproduction. Depending on who you are today is not the same thing Streams You can control the music through your hi-fi system (Apple is useless and Qobuz, bundled with the Audirvana project, is a treat), through an amplifier that forces the integrated service on you, through your phone (regaining points for Apple), or through a Bluetooth, Rune or Sonos-type system. Ambient music can be consumed. For example, Presto integrates BlueSound's “BluOS” universe and is at least parallel to Qobuz.

A plague in the classics is when you don't finish reading Intermittent, that is, when artificial whites are inserted between the limits. Unable to hear Rite of Spring or A Alpine Symphony In these conditions. Frustration has been aimed at Apple, and recently again at Gobus, in some listening situations at this point. It is important that this type of experience-related information is returned to journalists, as no one person can verify or manage all listening configurations anymore.

The bottom line is that Cobus's arrival came at a time when Tidal was losing its feathers and its sonic advantage (the MQA system), and Presto seems to have adopted a rhetorical accent over a bottle of wine: “Done with grapes, love and no.” Stupidity ».

Almost a paradox, after all, made with a lot of money and a lot of blah-blah, the classic Apple is useful for those who need to be guided in their choices. But Apple had to stand out through partnerships and exclusivity. There, we saw nothing coming, except for a few early sparks and high-sounding but empty press releases. So the “collaboration with the Salzburg Festival” is not implemented by presenting concerts, but by creating a playlist of back catalog recordings made in Salzburg, available for a long time and everywhere.


Apple reserved another surprise for the classical world by buying the label Biz, which celebrated its 50th anniversary. Interestingly, the giant that owns the label Platoon has not been contacted on the matter, so we don't know why or how this acquisition happened.

This is not the first mystery. In this universe, there are many unknowns. It's billionaire patron Gordon B. Getty, the son of a musician and an oil tycoon. Getty funded the Primephonic adventure. His name was mentioned in all the press releases related to the launch of the Apple Classic. But no question Duty There was no response to his role.

The University of San Francisco's surprising post-pandemic containment was met with the same silence when trying to find out who was at the helm of artist agencies and other musicians. However, goals announced by San Francisco Conservatory of Music President David Stull Duty They are like those who come to a conclusion Essay in memory of GettyBest Patron of the University Posted on December 15, 2023 at the usfca website.Education.

Will the pieces of the puzzle – and which puzzle, by which company – come together in 2024, 2025 or 2026? The US West Coast will face Universal, which has acquired Hyperion and holds a position in Beas (owner of Harmonia Mundi). Hyperion's absorption by Universal enabled rapid access Streaming Titles from this list include recordings by Marc-Andre Hamelin and Angela Hewitt.

Artists or stakeholders?

But the universe Streaming A sinister upheaval threatens musicians and traditional music in general. At the end of November, Spotify decided to make a change in pay. The leader in on-demand listening, dubbed “artificial listening,” has seen shares soar 148% this year. Establishes a minimum asking amount that entitles the employee to wages (1000, initially). The site has set up various systems that will generate “one billion dollars in incremental revenue” over the next five years, which the site says will target “emerging and professional artists.”

This design appeals to financiers rather than artists. On December 18, on his excellent professional blog @music_zone, Philip Astor reported a study Duty specializes in repurchasing music rights from independent artists and improving their monetization on music platforms. Streaming and social networks.

The conclusion of this study carried out among independent Anglo-American artists is that “despite the increase in subscription prices (Apple and Amazon in 2022; Spotify and YouTube in 2023), “their average income for listening is shown. Downward”. On average, across all platforms and territories combined, 1000 plays earned $2.95 in royalties in 2023, up from $3.00 in 2022 and $3.27 in 2021.


“Spotify, it accounts for 55% of the income of independent English and American artists Streamingaccording to Duty – 21% for Apple Music, 16% for YouTube Music and 4% for Amazon – its weight is the main reason for this decline,” we read. On Apple Music, 1000 plays today fetch $6.4 (compared to $6 in 2021). Spotify, at $2.4 (compared to $3 in 2021), now pays just as little as YouTube (a constant $2.3).

If we traditionally look for the utility and justification of having an Idagio, Presto, Apple or Qobuz in the ecosystem, the answer is obvious.

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