'It is as readily available as pop': Deutsche Grammophon's president on classical music's streaming opportunity

'It is as readily available as pop': Deutsche Grammophon's president on classical music's streaming opportunity

Deutsche Grammophon is celebrating its 120th anniversary year by launching a major partnership with Apple Music, which will potentially open up its repertoire - both modern and traditional - to a new streaming audience. While classical music may still remain a largely physical business, there are increasing signs of a shift with digital-friendly rising stars such as Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Jess Gillam, as well as contemporary composer Max Richter whose 2015 album Sleep has racked up decent streaming numbers. 

Here, Deutsche Grammophon president Dr Clemens Trautmann takes Music Week inside the iconic label’s streaming strategy…

You had an existing partnership with Apple Music - why did you want to extend that? 

We have an ambition this year – Deutsche Grammophon turns 120 and we want to share classical music’s emotional force and expressive beauty with as many people as possible. Apple is a great partner in this respect as we get the opportunity to create together something really novel and provide orientation to classical music fans - but also to potential classical music listeners. [The platform] encompasses both audio and audiovisual content of the highest quality that’s curated by some of the best known artists in the field. This is something that really fits our mission very well.

How important can this Apple Music deal be for you?

I think it can be a game changer as all the riches of classical music can be experienced there under a trusted brand with an artist community that is very well known. It’s the first label space of this kind of any genre, so you can also see the potential that Apple Music attributes to the classical space. 

As a business that has been largely led by physical and downloads in recent years, what’s the opportunity for classical music and streaming? 

It very much depends on the territory. We are looking at a very diverse landscape internationally with some markets in the classical music field far advanced like Scandinavia, the US or Korea with a largely digital consumption, and other markets where the transition just takes more time. Germany and Japan, for instance, are markets where the majority of sales are still physical. I think we have an enormous chance for classical music, as on streaming this music is readily accessible – it’s not in the basement of a retail store, all the way at the back on the shelf that just the hardcore fans would touch. It’s right there and as readily available as any pop music. Also, the boundaries between genres have gotten very blurry, so people are more open to discover and experiment. What they need, however, is guidance and orientation. 

We want to share classical music’s emotional force and expressive beauty with as many people as possible

Dr Clemens Trautmann

How can Deutsche Grammophon lead the way?

Among the general public there is a brand awareness and recognition because it’s been around so long, it has a significant heritage that is so rich. So we want to really encourage people to discover that great catalogue and all the new releases that are coming. With the space that we’ve created [on Apple Music] consisting of both audio and audiovisual content, they will be listening to the highest quality music in classical and there will be space for discovery.

What are your ambitions for the label as it marks 120 years in business?

It’s a wonderful means to unlock the full potential in our brand, our artist community and our fan community, and really reach out to our existing fans as well as to new audiences, especially in Asia where we will host a concert in the Forbidden City [on October 10 featuring new signings the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra]. Our ambition is to make people aware of that creative emotional force of classical music.

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