Deutsche Grammophon and Decca—DG Concerts

Live from the concert hall, direct to iTunes in a matter of weeks

The Premise:

Deutsche Grammophon and Decca are jointly presenting an initiative for recording and releasing orchestral concert performances. The project fashions the name DG Concerts from a combination of the labels Deutsche Grammophon and Decca Concerts. DG Concerts combines digital downloads with traditional CD releases to create a new model for symphonic record¬ings. Each signed orchestra is planned to perform, on average, four concerts a season for digital downloading; one of the four will also be released on CD.

Current research indicates that music downloading is becoming one of the most widespread means to disperse music, and may even challenge CD sales. While classical music is behind popular music in this trend, it is still gaining considerable momentum. The DG Concerts label seeks to capitalize on this phenomenon and make the potential of music downloading work in favor of orchestras. The DG Concerts also seek replicate the excitement of a live concert.


How it Works: Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic

A new agreement between musicians and the AFM facilitated the project. Because of the agreement, musicians are paid less up front, but receive a larger percentage based on sale performance. Zarin Mehta, executive director of NY Philharmonic, said the cost of a live recording under the new terms would be around "a tenth of what a studio recording would cost under the old system."

Currently, the Los Angeles Philharmonic offers four concerts from DG Concerts. The releases were available on iTunes approximately one week after the concert. Each concert represented on iTunes is the length of a standard CD, and is downloadable for $9.99. Some individual works are available for 99 cents, while other larger portions of the concert are available for $5.48, and $2.97. The Minimalist Jukebox concerts—the first two recordings available—featured works by Louis Andriessen, Arvo Pärt, and Steve Reich. The third and fourth recordings titled Beethoven Unbound, featured the works of the series's namesake.

The New York Philharmonic's initial DG Concerts release featured Mozart symphonies 39, 40, and 41, with a follow up recording of Dvorák, Brahms, and Kodály. The third recording features Berlioz, while the last features Mahler's First symphony. The prices are similar, with $9.99 for the entire concert, yet 99 cents for a movement, and a few dollars for individual symphonies or works.

Results:

The NY Phil ranked no. 36 in overall downloads during its first week, competing with some of the top mainstream acts such as the Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay. The first two DG Concert releases by the Phil ranked number 1 in "top classical albums" during the first few weeks on iTunes. The final release is coming soon.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic consistently ranked in the "top 5 classical albums" after their releases, and all four DG Concert releases are available on iTunes. The Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic enjoyed independent coverage in Billboard, Gramophone, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and their respective papers—The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. Continuing coverage is expected as this project unveils. Ultimately, the orchestras are learning that the many people conversant with today’s technology also have an interest in classical music.

For further info contact:
At the Los Angeles Philharmonic:
Adam Crane, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Click here for a press release on the LA Phil webpage, which includes a link to download directly from iTunes.

At the New York Philharmonic:
Eric Latzky, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 212-875-5715
DG Concerts are on the NY Phil webpage here.