Concertgebouw goes free as video policy fails

Concertgebouw goes free as video policy fails


norman lebrecht

June 23, 2017

As of today, you can watch concert videos on the Concertgebouw site after the orchestra decided there was no point in charging for them.

The RCO has also abandoned all further releases on RCO editions, according to its press release.

You can watch the free videos here.

They include concerts by Jansons, Gatti, Fischer, Nelsons and Blomstedt.


  • Christopher Culver says:

    This makes sense. When Frankfurt and other orchestras have chosen to made their concerts available on YouTube — putting more content out there than any classical music fan would ever have time to consume and entirely for free — pay-to-watch models would find it very hard to compete. The abandonment of RCO Editions, however, is regrettable as those recordings were offering something more than most free internet content, namely 5.0 surround sound thanks to the hybrid SACD format.

  • Ungeheuer says:

    Tandem deflationary and technological consequences on music. Perfect storm. No one wants to pay for music any longer. And yet audiences for opera and classical music consistently fail to reach business-defined sustainable levels, in most of the USA at least. Europe seems to doing better but not by much.

  • MacroV says:

    There’s only so much music you can pay to listen to/watch. I subscribe to the Digital Concert Hall but the BPO is a brand that dominates its category, and they got there firsta. And it would be hard to subscribe to more than one; I don’t have time to listen to everything on the DCH as it is. Same thing with opera in cinemas; the MET was first, and does it really well, making it hard for others to compete no matter how good.

    And yes, Youtube. OTOH, you can look at this as promotion. Does it harm all these orchestras to have their content out there for free? What good has it done most US orchestras and their high unionized media rates, that for a long time discouraged even audio, never mind video? You just need to consider it part of the marketing.

    • Sue says:

      I’ve grown bored with the Digital Concert Hall. The programs are only mediocre and I don’t always have enough speed to watch without buffering. Can’t even Chromecast to my television. Mostly I just watch ‘archived’ concerts very occasionally.

  • Fred says:

    I expect that the economics don’t work for the RCO, but what a great gift this is to us music lovers! I’ve just watched a fantastic Beethoven symphony on the site. What a treat!

    • Bruce says:


      (And for flute players, there is the bonus of having access to the wonderful playing of Emily Beynon <3 )

  • SVM says:

    Who is going to pay the PRS/PPL/equivalent royalties? Youtube royalty rates are notorious for their opacity (PRS does not disclose them even to their own members!), but, suffice to say, they are almost certainly lower than what composers and performers would have received through the previous model. So, who is going to cover the shortfall? Were the interested parties (orchestral players, conductors, composers, &c.) consulted meaningfully, or did they get no choice but to be devalued? If the music profession is to be sustainable as a means of furnishing a dignified living commensurate with the immense artistry and intellect it demands, we must all stop taking the work of fellow musicians for granted, no matter how convenient it might be for it to be disseminated /gratis/.