Classical Record Industry Down 30% in ’09, Harmonia Mundi Up 9%

You think the pop record industry is having a hard time of it – look at the classical music industry. Labels like Naxos have shifted the market to expect classical music to be budget priced items, stores are closing, radio is disappearing, funding from the private and public sector is drying up and the audience is graying. Most labels have closed their classical division and sales are down over 30% for 2009.

Not for French indie, Harmonia Mundi. They have seen an increase in their sales in 2009 of nearly 10% by recording new music, signing new artists and getting the hell out of their way and letting them develop over several records – sounds like a winning formula. They have also developed a loyal customer base, who trusts the brand and is willing to give anything with a Harmonia Mundi stamp on it.

Read about them and listen to their NPR interview here.

Even if you don’t like Classical music, you can learn a lot from their business model and practices.

Harmonia Mundi website

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7 Responses to Classical Record Industry Down 30% in ’09, Harmonia Mundi Up 9%

  1. Jeff says:

    Charlie, if anything Naxos has helped the classical music industry, making a vast repertoire of music available at reasonable prices to the masses. Without Naxos, there would be very little innovation or accessibility to fans for many orchestras and ensembles. Naxos alone was willing to take on the majors in making classical recordings affordable.

  2. Sean Hickey says:

    How exactly is Naxos devaluing music by making it less expensive? Are not the masses entitled to access great music? I will give all due respect to my colleagues at Harmonia Mundi but they create great recordings at high prices. We create great recordings. It’s a rather incomplete view that would say that HM is thriving in this climate while others are not. That is clearly not true. 2008 was the best year in Naxos history and 2009 is looking to be just as strong if not better, thanks in no small part to tons of arts organization partnerships, digital services and the Naxos Music Library, which arguably introduces more people to classical music than all other classical labels combined. And if the author is saying that classical music audiences are graying, then I invite him to New York at any time. It most certainly is not.

  3. Taylor V says:

    Are we supposed to pay $20 for an album at brick-and-mortar stores that we don’t even get to preview? Or can I just pay $7 for an album that is the same cost as on iTunes and call it good? For my money, I’d much rather spend $7 for the album, liner notes and CD recording at master quality from Naxos than $7 for an iTunes recording with no liner notes and no physical product. Just saying.

    Oh – and could you please be more clear on what you meant by “devaluing” the music? Is it the more affordable part or the actual fiscal success of a major record label?

  4. Amy says:

    I’d be curious as to how you feel Naxos devalues music. Labels like Naxos and Harmonia Mundi are helping to break the mold and keep record labels thriving. Naxos shouldn’t be criticized, but rather put on the same pedestal which you place HM.

  5. dahancb says:

    Hmm, I have gone back and re-read it from all of your perspectives and can see how you are reading it and have made an editorial change to the post. But wanted to thank you all for posting and sharing your thoughts.

  6. Amy says:

    I don’t know if I necessarily agree with your edit, though your efforts are noted. I think the general population came to expect free music with the file-sharing extravaganza of the last decade. Naxos, in my opinion, was ahead of the curve by offering the budget price for excellent recordings. They did not set the expectation by any means, but actually, helped to show that despite piracy, people would still buy physical product.

  7. Randall says:

    So a great recording at $20 is great… and a great recording at $8.99 is to be blamed for record stores closing, radio disappearing, funding from the private and public sector is drying up. If paying $8.99 for a CD is wrong… I don’t wanna be right!

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