A new white paper report by MIDiA Research, commissioned by classical music streaming service IDAGIO, has painted a rosy picture for the future of classical music streaming. “We were excited to validate the hypothesis that a classical music resurgence was possible in today’s on-demand music streaming world,” MIDiA Research’s Consulting Lead Keith Jopling said. “We found that classical music fans are different to pop music fans, but overwhelmingly just more interested and more curious about music.”

Australian Chamber OrchestraThe Australian Chamber Orchestra. Photo © ACO

MIDiA’s report, The Classical Music Market: Streaming’s Next Genre? is based on an online consumer survey of 8,000 adult music consumers across eight markets – the USA, UK, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Mexico and South Korea – as well as MIDiA’s 2018 market models, which were used to calculate market values and trends for the classical music genre.

The research found that radio and CDs are still the format of choice for classical music fans, but that 19 percent of listeners regularly consumed classical music via video streaming platforms YouTube and Vevo. The report also reveals that classical music streaming revenue was up 46 percent in 2018.

According to MIDiA’s research classical music is the fourth most popular music genre – after pop, classic rock and country music – beating out hip-hop and R&B. Relaxing Piano Music, which has emerged as a popular genre with the advent of the streaming era and customisable playlists, came in seventh, with one in five consumers listening to it, many of them, according to MIDiA, “not yet realising they have become classical music fans.”

“Classical music is opening up, with ‘mood-based’ playlists on streaming services reaching many millions more, often younger listeners, drawn in by the music’s ability to evoke mood, emotion, or offer something truly different to the more popular genres of the day,” Jopling said. “We have termed this new audience Classical Enthusiasts, and they represent a real opportunity for classical artists from the Italian Baroque of Monteverdi to the modern minimalism of Philip Glass.”

The research found that 21 percent of classical music listeners already stream classical music through audio streaming services – such as Spotify, Apple Music or IDAGIO – or video streaming services like YouTube. According to the survey, 40 percent of classical listeners believe that playlists are a great way to discover classical music.

MIDiA’s report also examines listening habits across age demographics, finding that classical music is reaching younger audiences. “While classical music listeners overall have an average age of 45, 30 percent of them are under 35,” the report says. “Classical music listening is at its highest among the over 55 age group, yet some 31 percent of consumers aged 25–34 listen to classical, with streaming – further galvanising the evolution of the music market – playing a key role in reaching the ‘millennial’ music fan.”

MIDiA’s report follows the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s survey of 19,000 consumers across 18 countries in 2018, which found that 86 percent of consumers are listening to music through on-demand streaming. It also found 24 percent of people typically listened to classical music (including opera, but not including film and television soundtracks), though the IFPI report didn’t list Relaxing Piano Music as a separate genre.

Data from the UK recording industry has also shown that classical music was the fastest growing genre in 2018, with streaming accounting for one quarter of classical music consumption.

Importantly, for specialist classical music streaming services like Primephonic of IDAGIO, who commissioned the research, the report identifies a group of classical aficionados – four percent of overall music consumers – who are most likely to pay for a dedicated classical music streaming service, with a larger group dubbed classical enthusiasts making up 30 percent of consumers who “represent a true mass-scale opportunity for the classical sector.”

While MIDiA found that most classical music listeners are satisfied with the current sound quality offered by streaming services, the report claims classical music is under-represented on the major streaming services. “Most streaming services have yet to present their vast catalogues of classical works in a compelling way, and do not yet return search results in a way that users can easily understand,” the report says. “Classical consumers can want to search music by title, and/or composer, performer and sometimes period or even instrument.”

According to the survey, one in five classical music listeners would prefer a dedicated classical service.

“What becomes clear is that the outlook for classical music is bright,” MIDiA’s report says. “But it will be a future in which the old rules are rewritten and in which streaming will take centre stage.”

Read MIDiA’s full report here