Mouse Over Beethoven

The BBC’s experiment with Beethoven was a huge success, with 650,000 downloads of th performances in 10 days or so, according to journalism.co.uk:

The Beethoven ExperienceBBC Radio 3’s website has recorded more than 650,000 downloads after a week-long Beethoven special.

The Beethoven Experience ran from 6 to 10 June and featured live performances of the composer’s complete works by the BBC Philharmonic orchestra.

Web users were able to download the broadcast in full which was free and available on the site for a further seven days.

“This trial was all about gauging listeners’ appetite for downloads and the results are astonishing,” said Simon Nelson, controller of BBC Radio & Music Interactive.

As Buzz Jarvis points out, downloads are so much better for listeners than streams:

Obvious lesson to all broadcasters: Let there be downloads. All the folks who are bragging about their streams would be blown away by floods of downloads. Distribution is so yesterday.

Simon Nelson, controller of BBC Radio & Music Interactive, expressed his intention thus: “We are hopeful that we have attracted people who wouldn’t previously have explored much classical music, as well as inspiring others to embrace digital technology.” Sounds like he made an impact. But why is it that listening to free classical music is seen as a way of encouraging a broader interest in the genre (and, presumably, encouraging the listener to buy classical music) but when the music is pop, it’s seen as dangerous encroachment on the rights and prerogative of the music industry and has to be stamped out?

17. June 2005 by jeremy
Categories: E-commerce | Tags: , , , , | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. re:

    “But why is it that listening to free classical music is seen as a way of encouraging a broader interest in the genre (and, presumably, encouraging the listener to buy classical music) but when the music is pop, it’s seen as dangerous encroachment on the rights and prerogative of the music industry and has to be stamped out?”

    Is it becasue the classical music is in the public domain?

  2. The whole idea of music as “property” runs counter to the spirit of Beethoven. The whole idea of sharing a performance in this way seems completely in accord with the spirit of Beethoven. “Millionen” have already been “umschulgen” by this wonderful use of technology. When he wrote his music Beethoven expected to be paid for it once. He probably had the hope that his music would continue to live on after his death, but he and his contemporaries had no idea of “copyright” or “royalties” as we know it, and it is probably due to the lack of copyright and royalties that composers during the pre-copyright period (composers who are now firmly in the public domain) wrote so much music.

    Nobody goes into playing or even writing classical music for the money. A handful of Conductors and a few big soloists are the only performing musicians who actually get rich playing music, and a smaller handful of composers (mostly film and theatre composers) are able to make a good living. Those of us who play music for a living can sometimes make enough to stay alive and, if we are really lucky, raise a family, own a car, and buy a house. And we can usually only do those things if we teach and/or have a spouse with a good job.

    The musicians who played these BBC performances of Beethoven Symphonies were paid for playing them. They are not losing any money at all. They are also creating a whole lot of good will, and are hopeful that by extending this gesture someone might get curious and will come to another performance of a Beethoven Symphony. Every performance is different, you know. They have the same notes, the same rhythms, and the same expression markings, but the way the music comes out is different for every performance.

    It seems that people tend to seek careers in pop music to become rich and famous and have fun at the same time. Those who do not become rich and famous are usually struggling, and all they have to show for the considerable effort they have put into their careers is their recorded music. If someone else were to “take” their music, tweak it, re-package it, and sell it as their own, that would be immoral and even illegal.

    If you were to do that with Beethoven, everyone would know it. That is why Beethoven is safe to broadcast in this way.