Niche music services, such as Primephonic, are having a moment ( Primephonic )
Since the launch of Spotify in 2008, streaming has transformed the musicindustry. A total of 91 billion songs — 1,300 songs per person — were streamed in the UK last year thanks to the Swedish-based company, Apple Music and other platforms, according to the Entertainment Retailers’ Association.
OC&C Strategy Consultants found that streaming has the potential to be worth £1.6 billion by 2023, if there are a range of new services to target different customers. One way to input innovation is via niche platforms.
Last week a new entrant named jazzed was launched, focused on, you guessed it, jazz music (jazzed.com). Headed by Jonathan Arendt, former CEO of Jazz FM, it will offer audio channels, video content, podcasts and documentaries as well as music.
“Streaming tech gives the ability to experience music and all that surrounds it, in a very different way,” says Arendt. “Jazz has been massively underserved by the mainstream. It is now possible to create a service that really satisfies the needs of users.”
Compared to Apple Music, which has just a single “Jazz” category, the new platform’s audio channels will focus on the ecosystems of the genre, from the sound of New Orleans to the influence of Polish jazz to Latin jazz and salsa beats. Arendt describes this as taking the very best of radio into the streaming world: “We could only do this within an app — allowing users to switch between moves, grooves and discovery at any time and to dig deep into the artist’s world at will.”
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There’s a freemium version, a premier tier named jazzed+ for £5.99 a month, and a more expensive subscription, jazzed premium, which is set to launch later this year and aims to stream all music in premium HD quality (flac 16-bit — a similar sound quality to CDs).
A focus on music quality is also what helps Primephonic, which specialises in classical music, differentiate itself. With 3.5 million tracks in the library, the platform is the largest collection of classical music in the world. It has 180,000 registered customers and says one-third of its listeners are under 35.
For a platinum subscription of £14.99 a month (primephonic.com) it offers 24-bit sound, a higher resolution than on other platforms. CEO Thomas Steffens says this is needed for classical: “Sometimes there can be 20 instruments at the same time and that gets lost in the data compression.” Yet it’s more expensive for companies to offer, as more server capacity is needed and an audio player had to be developed to handle the higher quality.
Steffens says its worth it. “Classical music is still very much at the root of contemporary music and movies. DJs base their dance tracks on classical music. Movies build tension and suspense based on how operas were composed 150 years ago. We feel it is an art that deserves to be preserved.”
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