03 January - 2012
Selling Your Classical Music Online By: Help For Bands, 1 Comments

Over the Christmas holidays a tweet caught my attention by a company I know well claiming they were the only company to offer independent artists the ability to put classical music online, especially on Apple iTunes. They also stated that classical music is too complicated for any other company to deal with.

This immediately got me wanting to know more, as to my knowledge most companies have the ability to deliver classical music. By classical, we’re talking about orchestral music (i.e. symphonies, operas, choral works and even chamber music). We mean music that generally is not mainstream and uses instruments such as violins, cellos etc.

I hate inaccurate information, so I should make a few things clear. The blog was clearly wrong, and was either trying to sensationalise themselves with a quick PR gimmick, or just didn’t really understand how things work.

Classical Music Online

Cross over artists such as Josh Groban, Katherine Jenkins, Myleen Klass, and many others have no additional difficulties compared to artists that perform more ‘popular’ related genres.

A number of people out there are talking about the death of CD and yes looking at the latest statistics, CD album sales are getting lower each month, year on year.  However let’s also look at these statistics more closely.

Firstly, the main core of those statistics is based upon artists signed to major records. Secondly, a lot of artists don’t register their release as they don’t really sell products in shops; instead they sell direct to fans at the concert. In my opinion this is a far more sensible solution, but it means these sales are never seen by the Official Charts Company.

The uploading process may take longer for classical music. Sometimes a performer may chose to record a work where a movement or work lasts an hour, but that doesn’t really matter. In the dance music field, they have music that can last equally as long.

The only real difference between uploading a rock piece and a classical piece is in regards to the track name. In rock music, 99.9% of music does not have movements and is not called a symphony or concerto; it just has a name like “Stairway to Heaven”.

In classical music you often have movements and additional information, such as: the key the movement it is in, along with the Italian tempo direction.

Title Formats for Classical Music Online

For Apple iTunes there is a very specific format in how you present that information:

Album title examples:  Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 38-40 or Brahms: String Sextets, Op. 18 & 36

Track titles are in the following format:

Name of Work, Key, Catalogue Number: Movement Number. Movement Title

Example:  Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67: I. Allegro con Brio

(If a work has an assigned catalog number, include the catalog number in the title.)

For a piece with up to 20 movement or section numbers, you can use Roman numerals, such as XIV or XX. If a piece contains 21 or more movements or sections, use Arabic numerals in the form No. 1, No. 2, and so on. For example:

  • Keyboard Concerto No. 5 in F Minor, BWV 1056: III. Presto
  • Serenade in G Major, K. 525 “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”: I. Allegro (Excerpt)
  • Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67: I. Allegro con brio

Use hyphens to indicate multiple sections or movements within one track, for example:

  • String Quartet No. 1 in G Major, K. 80: III. Minuet – Trio
  • Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade – The Gnome

Use colons to separate the title of a work from the title of a movement or selection, for example:

  • Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prelude
  • Requiem, Op. 48: In paradisum

Use quotation marks to indicate the common nickname of a work, such as:

  • Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 “Enigma”: Var. IX. Nimrod

If the track title contains the recording date, use the following format: the main track title, followed by the word “Recorded” and the year recorded in parentheses. For example:

  • Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, K. 620: Overture (Recorded 1954)

Track titles should be treated consistently. If an album includes information for one title, the information should be included for all other titles. For example:

The following group of tracks are consistently formatted:

  • Piano Concerto in G Major, M. 83: I. Allegramente
  • Piano Concerto in G Major, M. 83: II. Adagio
  • Piano Concerto in G Major, M. 83: III. Presto

There are many companies that offer classical distribution and it’s not just iTunes that sell classical music.  Most online stores sell classical repertoire and there are also a couple of classical only stores such as Passinato and The Classicalshop.net .  Each company will have their own rules on how metadata is presented, so just make sure if you’re unsure ask your distributor for some guidance but it should not be a big deal or problem and you cannot go wrong using the formula above from Apple.

Don’t get left behind when you’re looking to sell your classical music online.