Classical and jazz composers say they’re being annihilated by i-Tunes and Spotify

Classical and jazz composers say they’re being annihilated by i-Tunes and Spotify


norman lebrecht

July 21, 2014

A thorough and extensive piece of journalism by Scott Timberg on the unpromising Salon site details the devastations that has been wrought by streaming services on the incomes of living composers.

‘I used to sell CDs of my music,’ says Richard Danielpour. ‘And now we get nothing.’

All of my colleagues — composers and arrangers — are seeing huge cuts in their earnings,’ says Paul Chihara.

Yuhun Wang, a small label owner says: ‘What we found when we got out of Spotify — after these dire warnings — was that our sales went up; they absolutely jumped.’

Read more woes of the streaming victims right here.




h/t: Sergio Alejandro Mims


  • David Boxwell says:

    “The Life and Death and Rebirth of Classical Music on Streaming Services”

    (almost 85 of the 100 Best Recordings Ever Made are on my special Spotify playlist).

  • wwender says:

    My favorite part of reading this blog by FAR is reading the always hilarious little bitchy asides inserted by the author. “The unpromising Salon site” is a cute way to describe a website that has been around since 1995, employs a wide array of well-known journalists, and is among the top 250 or so websites by traffic in the US. Or perhaps Norman is new to this whole “inter-webs” thing?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Thanks for the compliments. Name one important cultural story that Salon has broken in 19 years.

  • Nick Kane says:

    While I certainly sympathize with the artists/composers and hope they receive their royalties, I have to admit some ambivalence. The fact that many recordings of certain works, which have quite a ubiquitous presence and availability on CD and download, are still carrying excessive price tags and my sympathy is starting to wane and slowly becoming apathy. The classical music industry has always been excessively greedy. On disc, Naxos once rendered some “checks and balances” to the consumer with reasonable pricing to counter the “majors”. However, today, save for Naxos’ streaming service, that too is but a distant memory. A good example of this is witnessed by the consumer nearly every time a new offering of the Beethoven symphonies are released. At this point in the game, with all the exceptional sets of these beaten warhorses available for less than $25.00 (and they are legion) on disc (and slightly cheaper as downloads) why do the studios believe a retail price of more than $30.00 is reasonable or…for that matter…sane? And when we add the streaming services to the equation, we have to speculate some sort of suicidal tendencies as well! The classical industry has done an incredibly bad job adjusting to the times and, as usual, want to point fingers at others. Unfortunately, for them, technology could care less about their longhaired arrogance and the elitists are merely reaping what they have sown for the past 10-15 years. Sadly, until the artist and composers discard these elitists who have been anchoring down the industry for decades, it will continue to be more famine than feast for them. And for once! Let’s be realistic! Outside of the occasional gimmick, classical music has become the redheaded stepchild of the music industry. It’s not a dying genre…it’s a damn zombie! It’s time the industry and listeners stepped out of their denial closets and lived in the now!

    • David Boxwell says:

      Some perspective: Bruno Walter’s Mahler 9th set of 78s sold in January 1939 (first release) for 3 guineas. Virginia Woolf believed an income of 500 pounds a year was respectable for a life dedicated to art and literature. She would have needed to spend one-third of her week’s income to purchase the set. By those standards, we are getting music for very little cost these days.