The cancellation of concerts and recording sessions affects us and the artists in various ways. Release schedules had to be revised (to make sure we have some new releases in 2021). In particular a session in March with violinist Ning Feng and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin means that, apart from not having the release in October 2020, we also don’t have “the making of a Channel Classics recording” documentary that was scheduled to be made there. That documentary would have been part of our 30th anniversary celebration efforts this year. As would have been a musical networking brunch with artists, press, distributors, managements and other contacts in the garden of Channel Classics headquarters on May 21st. Which was obviously cancelled, too.
Instead, we quickly flipped our anniversary efforts to online presence. We ran a website take-over advertisement feature at BBC Music Magazine’s website and included the 30th Anniversary Album (click here for track listing and to listen online) both as a physical SACD and a Free Download through Gramophone’s April issue 2020. Another online-oriented effort is that we are currently digging through recording session footage to create new video content, to keep the artists and their albums ‘alive’ on the socials.
Revenue must keep coming from somewhere, and that somewhere with the largest margin is on our own website. That is where we are trying to balance out the decrease in physical CD / SACD sales, since stores around the world are closed. Furthermore, the hi-res DSD Download sales (through NativeDSD Music) and low-res Streaming services (through Apple Music, YouTube and Spotify) have also seen a slight increase in revenue. It might be because people have more time and interest to ‘discover’ music. Rather than just buying the newest release, music listeners are diving into the back catalog. It looks like we balance out the decrease of physical CD/SACD sales with the increase of digital Download/Streams for March and April. We hope to keep seeing that trend into the summer, when likely many stores remain closed. And let’s not forget: artists aren’t giving concerts and are therefor not selling CDs either.
The movement towards the online streaming of house concerts and the like are pleasing listeners around the world, but are also doing damage. Some artists that I spoke with are saying they feel they have to do it, because everybody else is doing it. They get royalties for every stream and download of recordings, but it is almost expected from them that they play concerts now for free, for anyone who’s scrolling down their Facebook wall. I am glad to see that some musicians are now asking for donations. We should not get used to artists doing their jobs for free, I hope you’d agree!
For now, many 30th Anniversary campaigns and new releases have been delayed to September/October 2020. Let’s hope more movement can be realized by then. That people have enough reason to feel safe again, that artists can perform on stage again, and that the classical music network of artists, managements, promoters, festivals, competitions, labels, recording engineers, music halls and CD stores can somehow start where we left of in the beginning of 2020. Might be wishful thinking, but here’s to hope.
Floor van der Holst, label manager
The label Channel Classics records with Rachel Podger, Ning Feng, Iván Fischer, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Florilegium, Ashley Solomon, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Rosanne Philippens, Wim Van Hasselt, Dana Zemtsov, Anna Fedorova and many other artists.
More info about the 30th Anniversary: www.channelclassics.com/30years