For a while now, it has been discussed how classical music is dying. It is definitely one of the arguments that creep up when discussing old music and new.
However, quashing popular belief that classical music is soon to be bygones, evidence suggests that 35% of music consumers are classical music fans. According to a MiDia research report, classical music is the fourth most popular music genre and has more fans than R&B and hip hop.
As per the report, North America experienced the largest classical music consumption in 2018, worth $146 million, with streaming at $89 million. Classical music listeners have an average age of 45.5, with 44% of the listeners aged under 44 and 30% aged under 35.
Radio and CDs are still the primary ways classical music fans listen to the genre, but video streaming is the third preferred format, with 29% of the listeners regularly consuming classical music via YouTube/Vevo. 52% of classical listeners prefer their music in the background while doing something else, while 45% preferred focused listening at home.
In South Korea, the UK, Denmark and Germany, consumers appear more purist in the way they listen to classical music, with around half (59% in Korea) stating a preference for sitting down at home and listening to the genre.
Whereas, in Sweden and Denmark, where algorithmic recommendations are most embedded via streaming, two in every five classical listeners say that they listen to classical as a change from their usual music.
Despite classical music’s timeline beginning somewhere in the medieval times, it feels like its time is about to arrive again. This can be because of streaming. Streaming has played a vital role in shaping the future of this genre and has introduced classical music to new audiences across the globe, with 30% of listeners under 35 and 31% aged 25-34.
Classical music enters streaming era
The report states that classical streaming revenue was up 46% in 2018 to $141 million which is 37% of the total classical music market revenue.
Streaming has played a crucial part in generating new audiences for classical music through ‘mood-based’ playlists, including in particular those featuring ‘relaxing piano music’ and the likes of such music.
The reach of streaming, as well as it potential, are further highlighted by the fact that nearly half of the adults that stream classical music consider it to be a great to listen to the genre, dispelling the myth that classical fans are still stuck in the CD era, the report said.
While major streaming companies such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music have room for improvement in how well they represent classical music, the overall benefits of streaming are coming across clearly to classical listeners. Already, 49.3% of them stream classical via audio streaming services such as YouTube.
Nearly half of these classical music streamers state that streaming is a great way to listen to the genre Also, 42% are discovering more music on streaming services than that they would on other traditional formats.
Most importantly, while classical fans say that sound quality is vital, most are satisfied with the current sound quality offered by streaming services.
Classical market value
Classical recorded music revenues were worth $384 million globally in retail terms in 2018. This represented a growth of 2.1%, significantly less than the 15% increase in the overall music market. The key reason in this disparity lies with the fact that majority of classical revenues still comes from CD and download album sales, both of which are declining formats.
The report opines that despite this phenomena, streaming kept classical on a growth trajectory: streaming of the genre up 46% in retail terms in 2018 – a faster pace growth than music streaming overall (34%). Classical streaming in now worth $141 million, just 1.5% of the global streaming market.
In conclusion, what can be derived from the above mentioned figures is that classical music fans are a crucial music consumer segment who are often overlooked by the mainstream music industry, especially within in the streaming market. Fans of this genre constitute a large and diverse group that is already highly engaged with new formats like streaming.
The cliche image of classical fans only being older, technologically-challenged, traditional-minded and intolerant towards other genres of music is not the complete truth.
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