Radio & Music

On Beethoven at the BBC…

This is really more just an exercise in quoting than anything else. You’ll remember a week or so ago I mentioned that the BBC was putting up every Beethoven symphony to download as an MP3 – well now the BBC has reported on how successful the whole enterprise was: Beethoven downloads receive more than 600,000 requests . Here are some samples from the press release:

“Roger Wright, Controller of Radio 3, said: “The response has been incredible and much bigger that we expected. “The success shows Beethoven’s enduring appeal and we hope this will encourage new audiences to explore online classical music.”

“Simon Nelson, Controller of BBC Radio & Music Interactive, said: “This trial was all about gauging listeners’ appetite for downloads and the results are astonishing. We are hopeful that we have attracted people who wouldn’t previously have explored much classical music, as well as inspiring others to embrace digital technology.”

“Gianandrea Noseda added: “I’m thrilled that our performances have reached such a large, new audience and hope this trial will encourage more people to experience and enjoy orchestral music live in concert.”

There’s more reaction from my boss, Dan Hill over on his personal site:

I can’t tell you the amount of buzz this is generating right across the BBC. Lots of extremely interesting questions continue to be raised by the success of our trials – from distribution to commercial policy, from music strategies to on-demand radio, from marketing to navigation and so on – and we’re feeding a lot of the learning and creative ideas right into the heart of the various bits of strategic and tactical BBC work going on at the moment. It’s profoundly interesting for us, and I hope for some of you. [ Over 600,000 mp3 downloads of BBC Radio 3’s Beethoven programmes ]

The first set of symphonies have now been taken down, but the second half of the whole enterprise goes up in about ten days at the Beethoven download page.

3 replies on “On Beethoven at the BBC…”

How many people are downloading it just because they can? From the numbers I’d warrant few but it’s still something that needs to be considered. Plenty of people will take something if it’s free.
Bravo though, bravo indeed.

Is there a site where I can still download symphonies 1-5? I’d love to have them in my collection. Perhaps if bandwidth is a consideration some kind folks could set up a bittorrent of the available MP3s.

As I understand it, the reason the symphonies are available for a limited period is to do with rights and licensing, not bandwidth. Certainly, redistribution is explicitly not permitted. I’d be fascinated to know what the BBC’s agreement for this with the Musician’s Union is, actually – music rights clearance is something of a minefield.
There’s also the issue that at least one of the files (Symphony number 3) is fairly seriously glitchy, with several noticeable drop-outs. I’m not alone in having provided feed-back about that. Still, bravo to the BBC for a bold new approach. Hopefully the experiment will have been useful in demonstrating demand, and they’ll find ways of bringing us more in the future.

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