DG now owns classical real estate on iTunes

DG now owns classical real estate on iTunes


norman lebrecht

August 10, 2018

Deutsche Grammophon has signed a longterm deal with Apple Music to have classical playlists curated by major artists.

For today’s launch at Salzburg, the pianist Daniil Trifonov, tenor Rolando Villazón and cellist Peter Gregson curated Apple Music’s three main composer stations: Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.

The DG Playlist will be regularly updated to include videos by DG stars. Check it out here.

Further plans include the first full visual opera on Apple Music – Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette from Salzburg 2008 with Rolando Villazón, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin – along with a Salzburg video playlist, including the Mozart Gala in the composer’s 250th-anniversary year, featuring Anna Netrebko, Magdalena Kožená, Thomas Hampson, Daniel Harding and the Vienna Philharmonic.


  • Caravaggio says:

    DG keeps dumbing it down, we see. The playlist is an insult to serious listeners. For each selection is nothing but isolated movements from larger works. It is in essence a pop tunes playlist. This is no way to listen to great music that deserves better treatment. I will pass.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      It’s not all dumbing down. Zimerman, Perahia and Sokolov are unquestionably elite. And one can easily make a case for Pressler, Babayan, Argerich and Barenboim. DG has released recordings of all of the above in recent months or is actively promoting them.

      • Caravaggio says:

        It is dumbing down when they fail to create playlists that contain the compositions in full, as they were meant to be heard. The marquee names you list that are curating the playlists are willing participants in this farce and they ought to know better than lend their names to such an offense. Abbado once created a stink, and rightfully so, over DG’s plans to split up one of his recorded Brahms symphonies, I think, to include in one of their too many and ill advised and failed classical greatest hits compilations.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Playlists and such nonsense have always existed in one form or another. Unfortunately, online marketing gives them a boost.

          Without insider knowledge I wouldn’t necessarily blame artists, though of course I look up to Abbado for the story you mention. (There is no shortage of reasons to look up to Abbado.)

          My main point about today’s DG is that they haven’t stopped releasing high end performances. Unfortunately, they also release many lesser ones that undermine the label’s prestige. But this has been going on for at least 20 years.

          Arguably that’s going on all around the recording industry: despite lots of crap, every year amply its fair share of fantastic recordings. Even the industry’s famous Cassandra, Norman Lebrecht, has high praise for new recordings on a regular basis.

  • Oliver Klozoff says:

    And all crap quality mp3 sound no doubt. Great for mobile in-ear headphones.

    • Karen says:

      No amount of bitrate can help DG’s abysmal engineering and production.

      • The View from America says:


        • NN says:

          DG doesn’t have an engineering department anymore since 2008 because of “strategic reasons”. The result of that management-buy-out are the Emil Berliner Studios (EBS) in Berlin. However, DG is mainly shopping now at various (often second rate) recording companies in order to find the cheapest rate, very often in combination with live recordings instead of studio recordings. Would Mercedes ask Ford to engineer their cars? Whoever is still convinced about real audio quality in classical music should better use EBS.

          • Alvaro says:

            You mean the 20 people who care about this? I‘m not issuing a value judgement , but DG is not a charity, nor does it owe its existence to the most recalcitrant listeners. Its main objective is to: 1) exist as an entity in a challenging market, and 2) release the best quality recordings/artists they can given number 1.

            Any of you „geniuses“ and „stewards of the arts“ would‘ve bankrupted DG 20 years ago, and now it would be only but a distant memory.

            Its vey easy to boo from the sidelines.

          • Tamino says:

            Alvaro, not everything DG (or Sony) could do better necessarily costs them more money. All they would need is a better understanding of how music works. Also on listeners who have no educated critical ears, bad music, and badly recorded music, does have an effect. They just don‘t like it. Difference to the few aficionados is only that they don‘t know why. But the effect on the sales is the same. They don‘t buy. So stop making the false argument, only the ‚most recalcritant listeners‘ would care. The silent majority cares just as much. The difference is only, they are not outspoken, not conscious about it.
            The reason people like music is exactly BECAUSE it effects our subconscious directly, our emotions. So your argument that those who are not outspoken and critical do not care, is simply false.

      • Tamino says:

        That’s a hyperbolic polemic statement that does not reflect the reality me thinks.
        If anything, DG is very inconsistent lately. They have issued really fantastic recordings as well as really crappy ones lately. In the hey days they were more consistent, but even then not everything was gold.

        • Karen says:

          “They have issued really fantastic recordings”

          Perhaps. Though I did not find any recording they issued lately with *sound* that is truly great, in contrast with, for example, BR-Klassik’s own label.

          What I meant to say is, DG’s sound is not of a very high standard to start with, so I find it unnecessary to nitpick over whether their track is streamed in mp3/aac or a lossless codec, especially given that the vast, vast majority of people cannot tell apart 256k aac, the format Apple Music uses, from a lossless format in double-blind trials.

          • Tamino says:

            You are not by any chance working for BR somehow, “Karen”? 😉

          • Karen says:

            Ha, no. But I like the sound of their recordings and broadcasts a lot – shame I don’t really like the chief conductor of their orchestra. And you? An employee of DG? 😉

  • Martin says:

    …and so the slow death of a label without artistic vision continues…

    • Tamino says:

      In due fairness, can you name a label with artistic vision as their primary objective?
      It‘s easy to blame the majors, but they gave not caused the shitty reslity they have to operate in these says. The intellectual dark ages that have begun.

      • Martin says:

        sure I can, how about Pentatone, CPO, Hyperion, Odine, harmonia mundi, Alpha, Orpheus, BIS… to name just a few.

        And yes, the majors have caused the situation of today by putting looks and PR over artistery, by “making” stars for a season and by recording the same repertoire over and over again.

        • Tamino says:

          But these niche labels and the majors coexist in quasi symbiotic roles. Neither do these boutique labels – some of them almost one man shows – have artistic vision as their primary objective. Their objective is to find their niche in the market reality coexisting with the majors.
          There are many artistically good releases by the majors as well, not only the shallow stuff for the masses, and the above mentioned small labels have issued more than one mediocre or uninteresting reading as well.
          Don’t get carried away by the David vs Goliath automatism, where one always sympathizes with the small guy.
          Also, if you never have to deal with the temptation to have the “cash cows” under contract, your only bet is to do ‘interesting’ repertoire, something that’s always appreciated by the aficionados and critiques, but those are not representative for the market.

          • Christopher Culver says:

            Some of the independent labels, like Dacapo or Alba, are state-funded. Artistic vision – or at least releasing whatever is going on in arts circles in that country – is definitely what they are about. It is curious to claim that they are in some kind of symbiotic relationship with the majors, because the majors have declined so greatly that I don’t think that these days DGs or Decca’s goings on even register much to staff at those independent labels.

            Maybe Robert von Bahr can chime in here about BIS; he has posted here before about how he supports all kinds of music that he is personally passionate about even though it makes little business sense.