Speaking in the latest issue, Allen discusses her involvement as co-chair for the first edition of the ITV awards show since 2013. With Michael Ball & Alfie Ball selling strongly, Dutch violinist Andre Rieu a global success and new artists coming through, Allen spoke to Music Week about the opportunities for Decca and other labels…
What’s going to be different about the Classic BRITs this time?
"I think that music has moved on and the industry has moved on and we want to reflect that. There are a couple of new awards in there. We are focused not just on the established artists, but equally there’s a big focus on supporting younger talent within this year’s awards. Also, I think we want to celebrate diversity. With streaming, it’s opened up all sorts of new opportunities. I think also with TV soundtracks, film soundtracks, gaming soundtracks, people are listening to [classical] music in so many different ways now and we need to recognise that too. We’re also going to be celebrating the world of musical theatre, which is something again that we feel has been hugely successful over the last few years."
Classical and other non-pop repertoire has yet to enjoy the streaming impact of other genres. Will the return of the awards help?
"There is massive potential for growth there. But there are some artists that are doing well on streaming – Max Richter and Ólafur Arnalds have great streaming success. Also, when it comes to soundtracks, you only need look at The Greatest Showman at the moment. There is an appetite for soundtracks from TV, games and film on streaming platforms. If you’re looking at the core classical side of things, it’s slightly behind other genres, but then artists like Sheku Kanneh-Mason definitely have more of a streaming audience than perhaps other core classical artists have in the past. I feel excited about the streaming opportunity for us. Streaming is as much about discovery as it is about the hits, and our business, the classical business, is about discovery. So that is why I’m really passionate and optimistic about our future within streaming."
With the success of Michael Ball & Alfie Boe, do you think classical crossover is now bigger than ever?
"I think it’s always been there. Artists come through that are just exceptional, like Michael and Alfie, and they re-ignite it again. But if you think back to artists like Pavarotti, through to the likes of Nigel Kennedy, Katherine Jenkins and Russell Watson, music is cyclical. It just so happens with Alfie and Michael that their album was exceptional and it reignited the appetite for this music. I don’t think it ever went away."
There is an appetite for soundtracks from TV, games and film on streaming platforms.
What are your hopes for this event – and how did you bring it back?
"There are so many passionate people in our business in this area of music, everyone kept lobbying and lobbying. The thing that we found was that we have stories to tell. We have the story of Ball & Boe, we have the story of Sheku, we have the story of Tokio Myers, we have the story of Andrea Bocelli, who turned 60 this year. There are so many stories in our business to celebrate. We felt now was the perfect time to freshen up the show and bring it back. It was amazing to see the actual warmth within the music industry for it. People really want to support our area - and it’s growing, which is great in the music industry. It just felt like the right time. Big success stories to shout about, brand new artists to showcase, and a definite focus on shining a spotlight on young classical artists."