To be frank, streaming classical albums online sucks. Youtube, Rhapsody and others supply bare-minimum levels of information. Good luck if you want to know the personnel on an album. God help you if you need liner notes to decipher a piece.
The problem is that in our rush to dump all the music in recorded history onto the cloud we had to cut a few corners, and no music has suffered more from that hastiness than classical.
This music we listen to — I’m currently nerding on some Hildegard von Bingen — is deep on detail: you have the name of the piece, the composer, date of composition, the orchestra playing, the conductor, special personnel and soloists, the recording engineer, location of recording……… You get the idea. It’s a lot of shit.
Technically you don’t need to know anything about a piece of music to dig it. You simply have to listen. But we live in an era of the hyperlink, where clicks uncover layers of information. And somehow — and this is the pinnacle of wtf-ness — the digital tracks we’re streaming have almost no accompanying information.
Chris McMurtry is a composer that started Dart Music, an agency for composers & classical outfits that sells artists’ music to platforms like iTunes and Rhapsody (for a small annual fee, but artists keep royalties). Dart Music supplies righteous amounts of accompanying data. The endless musical info we listed above? They fit it all in.
Billboard recently noted McMurtry’s effort. McMurtry’s is a good response to the laziness of other agencies like TuneCore, which usually don’t provide complete profiles of classical recordings. But as this takes off, and fans get used to taking deep tokes of information while listening to Guillaume Dufay (e.g.), the big streaming players will come around as well. As a former (short-lived) classical music shelver and cataloger, I say it’s too bad we didn’t start out like this. Ah well.
(As Billboard notes, Anastasia Tsioulcas perfectly outlined the classical streaming conundrum here.)