“Classical Live” Launches on Google Play; but What’s the Point?

Classical live logoClassical Live is an initiative that has just launched on Google Play. With five orchestras currently part of this project, listeners can purchase or stream live recordings from these orchestras. On Google Play. Only.

I’m very happy to see classical music highlighted on a major digital music platform, but what’s the point? Many of these recordings have already been released as albums. The press release says:

The 22 complete works and three free bonus tracks in the first Classical Live release include inaugural digital-only releases from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra, and newly available recordings from the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The three special bonus tracks from the orchestras are available, free of charge, for a limited time.

This isn’t the first such venture. The iTunes Store has had a number of live classical music initiatives, including Live from Lincoln Center, Minimalist Jukebox (live concerts of music by minimalist composers), and a season pass to recordings of the New York Philharmonic. In addition, the siloing of these recordings on Google Play is misguided. Granted, Google probably put up some cash to be able to announce this, but for the orchestras involved, it’s not the best distributor of their music, especially with Apple Music being launched in ten days.

Interestingly, when going to the Classical Live web page, and clicking on the link which says View all recordings on Google play, I see this:

Classical live mia

I was able to find some of the recordings by searching for “classical live” on the Google Play website. Prices vary from full price to half price, all of well-known “safe” works, and there are only nine albums for now; not much to jumpstart this initiative.

And what’s up with that logo? It looks like an RSS feed icon, and I have a feeling that many people will see it as such…

This whole idea doesn’t seem very carefully thought out, in terms of content, branding, or availability.