Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Decca launches classical godcasts


Decca has taken social media to new heights with an online prayer facility on their website for the Christmas CD from the nuns of Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation. Sadly divine petition seems to have failed* as Voices - Chant from Avignon was beaten to the UK Christmas number one spot by André Rieu's Forever Vienna. Will we see Chant Against the Machine released for Christmas 2011? More on the backstory of the nuns' CD here.

* As happens many times, this light-hearted post led to more serious matters. When I started writing it on Dec 21 I spent a lot of time trying to find out which CD was number one in the UK classical specialist chart for the week ending December 18. First I listened to the BBC Radio 3 chart programme on iPlayer, for which I expect many accumulated merits. But to no avail, just a few specific chart CDs were featured and overall chart positions were not given. I then followed the Radio 3 link to the Gramophone chart page which was a week out of date, and remains so as I upload on Dec 22. Finally a visit to the source of the charts found a UK specialist classical chart dated Dec 18. Which presumably is the definitive version. Or is it? My cross-check shows positions in it differ from those given on Radio 3 on Dec 21. So if my facts in this post are wrong I offer this explanation but no apology.

Forget about the difficulties this shambles presents to that increasingly rare animal, the writer who wants to check their facts. Classical charts have become yet another discarded plaything of the self-appointed saviours of classical music. I remain open-minded about if and how classical music should reinvent itself. But increasingly it seems the mass market fallacy holds the key.

Classical music has become like an obese person whose very longevity is threatened by their corpulence. Snake oils, miracle cures, online prayers and the other ministrations of mass marketers do not work, as my dalliance with Google Trends shows. Classical music needs a crash diet to rid itself of the toxins that are poisoning its system. That will be very painful for everyone, but it may be the only way forward.


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8 comments:

Ian said...

Godcasts... whatever next?

I'm going to get down and send the Lord a knee-mail in appreciation right about now.

Pliable said...

Ian, thank you - priceless.

One thing I have learnt from this blog over the years. Whatever I try to do, my readers can do better.

Scott said...

Classical music has become like an obese person whose very longevity is threatened by their corpulence. Snake oils, miracle cures, online prayers and the other ministrations of mass marketers do not work ...


Well, your view of the industry is certainly broader than mine; my only experience is as a consumer. However, in the ... let's see here ... in the 50 years my interest spans, my experience is that:

* There has never been a greater depth or breadth of recorded music available to me, either for purchase or for free listening. Ths includes CD's, downloads, podcasts, "concerts on demand," Internet radio, and so on.

* There has never been a time when a greater variety of newly-recorded music has been available to me. In other words, the comments above go well beyond catalogue-mining.

* The variety of live performances (and recordings of live peformances) available to me has never been greater.

I do not deny that there are worrying trends and much ongoing change. However, from my narrow perspective as a consumer of classical music, this is the "golden age," and there's never been anything remotely like it during my 50 years of listening.

Pliable said...

Scott, EMI on the brink of extinction, Deutsche Grammophon licensing its back catalogue to a Dutch budget label, ensembles struggling for survival, record stores closing daily, major cuts in funding, classical radio stations reinventing themselves as easy listening destinations, etc etc.

Yes, there are also thankfully some very good things happening in classical music. However many of them are technology or market driven and have happened despite the grandees that rule the industry today.

I am not a great believer in "golden ages" either in the present or past. But I am a believer in questioning whether things cannot be done better.

Scott said...

I am not a great believer in "golden ages" either in the present or past.

As a consumer, I cannot think of any time in the last 50 years that my listening experiences have been richer or more varied. If that isn't a reasonable definition of a "golden age," then I don't know what would be.

But I am a believer in questioning whether things cannot be done better.

Agree (as I said). However, the comments to which I refer are less about whether things cannot be done better and more about how bad they are today and in the recent past. As I say, my experience simply doesn't support that.

I understand the examples you give, but you seem unwilling to admit that from the point of view of the consumer, some of them are simply change, not disaster. DGG licensing their back catalogue to Brilliant Classics? Why not?

... many of them are technology or market driven...

Are you seriously suggesting that these are Bad Things? I recall you waxing very enthusiastic about Internet radio. If that's not a technology-driven advance, then what is?

As I said, there are certainly problems and issues, but your view is just too dark and bleak to match up with my experience.

Pliable said...

Thanks for that Scott. This debate is settling into the kind of circular argument that is typical of blogs and which usually bores the pants off everyone except the two people involved.

So I am happy to acknowledge that we have different points of view on this topic, which is very healthy, and then move on to other things.

Have a great Christmas.

Scott said...

I agree, Pliable.

All the best of the season to you, and I look forward to your 2011 posts.

And just think ... a civilized disagreement on the Internet. Who would have believed it?? :-)

John said...

Only just read this entry, and am also puzzled about the dates of the classical charts measurement and publication. I have a passing interest as a director of The Sixteen's own-label CORO, although the majority of our sales (especially those at concerts!) don't get measured. As I write today, on 4 January, the 8 January chart is already available: http://www.theofficialcharts.com/classical-charts/
How can this be?
John