Free classical downloads – results and conclusions

Free classical downloads – results and conclusions


norman lebrecht

January 13, 2011

The free classical download experiment running on this site over the holiday period, with the participation of five niche labels, has produced much food for thought.

Between one and two thousand readers clicked daily onto the pages, at the quietest period of the year, far more attention than small labels would normally get.
It has been impossible to get exact download numbers but the most encouraging response was to the new music that I offered. As of this moment, 143 people have downloaded the Lontano section of the tenth string quartet by David Matthews, making it one of the year’s most popular new pieces of chamber music – along with Milo, by Mark Anthony Turnage.
Image: Kreutzer Quartet - Matthews: Complete String Quartets

Also high in the running was some weird stuff for accordion and saxophone. If you click back on the series on Slipped Disc, you may find that some of the downloads are still live and available, even thought the experiment was for a limited time.
The first conclusion, then, is that there is a substantial untapped interest for esoteric music which is not served by major labels.
The second is that this is a venture worth repeating.
Next time, though, I will do it with the participation of a few radio stations who have expressed interest in breaking down barriers.


  • Marie Lamb says:

    Count us in at WCNY-FM, of course! Keep us posted.