Classical music streaming service launched by Universal Music – Billboard

BERLIN – Subscription streaming services have ushered in a boom in the recorded music business, but the medium’s focus on hit singles has promoted genres like hip-hop and Latin more than few others. Starting today, Universal Music Group’s Deutsche Grammophon is offering its own service, Stage+, which will offer music from its own collections and that of sibling label Decca Records, as well as video programming and a new live performance every week – At a cost of $14.90, or €14.90, a month.

Universal Music has no plans to remove its classical recordings from mainstream music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Instead, the idea is to offer a specialist service that may appeal to fans of classical music and create a business structure more suited to a genre that has not been well served by mainstream services. Since many artists and orchestras record some of the same compositions, it can be difficult for fans to find the recording they’re looking for—and mainstream streaming services tend to curate music for general audiences.

“There is an urge among consumers and artists to have everything in one place, with all the right data,” says the president of Deutsche Grammophon. Dr. Clemens Trautman, “You can punch in a work or a recording or an artist and you’ll see the next livestream, archive, album, and if there are documentaries, behind-the-scenes footage or interviews.”

So far, no major label has managed to create their own streaming service, and it’s hard to know how many consumers will be interested in a service that only offers a few recordings. But Deutsche Grammophon, with its iconic yellow logo, has a culturally significant repertoire spanning more than a century, as well as important stars such as Lang Lang, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Max Richter. It also has enough brand equity to obtain streaming rights to major live events, and its first streamed performance will be Vikingur Olafsson’s performance of his album. from afar at Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík, Iceland. (Some live performances shown on Stage+ will be time delayed for various reasons.)

For Universal Music, Stage+ also provides business benefits. The price is higher than the current cost of mainstream services, although it includes high-fidelity audio as well as livestreamed events. The original classical repertoire is in the public domain, meaning it doesn’t have to pay publishing royalties on about three-quarters of the music it streams. The service may also operate in a way that makes sense for the genre, and it plans to split royalty pools according to the amount of time consumers spend listening to certain recordings, rather than paying royalties on each track. Which gives an advantage to short songs. Which is arguably inappropriate for genres with diverse or long track lengths, like jazz and classical music.

Stage+ faces competition – on the one hand, from livestreaming video services such as Medici TV and Carnegie Hall+, and on the other, from specialist streaming services such as Berlin-based classically-focused Idagio. And since so many households in the US and Europe now subscribe to a mainstream streaming service, in many cases Stage+ will need to have enough appeal to be successful as a second service. Apple also seems to have plans that include a classical music service; Last summer it bought streaming service Primaphonic, whose website says, “We’re working on an amazing new classical music experience from Apple next year.” (Apple did not respond to a request for comment.)

Trautmann says that Stage+ evolved from DG Stage, which was established during the pandemic and offered livestreams of ticketed performances by Deutsche Grammophon artists. A year and a half ago, they began working to develop the service with Deutsche Grammophon vice president of consumer business, robert zimmermanbelow Frank BrigmanPresident and CEO of Universal Music, Central Europe, who also serves as Chairman of Deutsche Grammophon.

Troutman says, “DG Stage is simple and very effective, but we realized that the artist community and consumers were looking for a service where everything our artists create could be presented holistically in one place. and the audience can follow their journey.” Juilliard-trained musician who plays the classical clarinet.

It’s hard to imagine that the Stage+ will have enough customers to rival the mainstream players, but its premium price could potentially allow it to make money with many customers in the low six figures. It also offers an interesting model for genres that don’t fare as well in the streaming world as pop music — especially if they have fans who can afford the premium price.

And although none of the major labels currently run streaming services, there’s no reason why Stage+ couldn’t offer music from other labels or rights holders as well — and that could potentially give them more room than Spotify and Apple Music. Can offer better deals as attractive cultural and business environment. , “We’ll be open to expanding the content offering provided it’s the right match for our curated approach,” Trautman says, although there are no immediate plans to do so. “It might be better off with potential partners than us.”

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