GERMANY: Deutsche Grammophon (DG), a division of Universal Music Group, is intending to become the first major classical record label to make the majority of its vast catalogue available for download through a newly-launched online shop. DG Web Shop, which went live last Wednesday (November 28th), is said to enable consumers in 40 countries to download recordings at "the highest technical and artistic standards", writes David Davies.
Following a glut of significant developments with regard to the online availability of popular music (read PSN-e's recent coverage here), DG's new initiative confirms the growing demand for digital delivery of the classical repertoire. Indeed, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study cited by DG (Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2006-2010) forecasts that digital turnover will triple between 2007 and 2010.
To begin with, almost 2,500 DG albums will be available for download as MP3s with a transfer bit-rate of 320 kbps, exceeding the average industry download standard of 128-192 kbps. All MP3s will be without Digital Rights Management (DRM), meaning that DG Web Shop downloads will be compatible with all portable music players and burnable to CD.
Visitors to the DG Web Shop can choose between buying entire albums, collections of albums and box-sets, along with individual movements, complete works and individual pieces. Catalogue highlights include nearly 600 albums that are no longer available on CD, with more out-of-print titles set to follow in the future.
"By launching this easy-to-use, intuitive DG Web Shop, we are not only expecting a significant growth in turnover but are also aiming to solidify and expand the digital future," said Michael Lang, president of Deutsche Grammophon. "In concrete terms, this means establishing innovative sales channels and concepts: by attracting the classical novice and, of course, those already steeped in the genre - and everyone in-between - as they transfer from being only CD buyers to exploring the advantages of downloading in CD-comparable audio. This web shop's easy-to-use search function helps all music enthusiasts find and select music by categories such as genre, composer, artist, as well as filter by awards, reviews and series."