Philadelphia Orchestra Online Music Store

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Date: Wednesday, September 27th, 2006, 08:00
Category: music

Our very own Philadelphia Orchestra has opened a new online music store, the first of its kind among major symphony orchestras. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect is that the downloads are DRM-free(!), and you can choose between mp3 and FLAC (!!!). Prices are reasonable, but vary by length: an mp3 of most works (e.g., Beethoven’s 7th symphony, about 40 minutes) is $4.99 and the FLAC is $5.99. A short piece (Verdi’s Overture to I vespri siciliani, ~10 minutes) is $0.99 on mp3 ($1.99 for FLAC), and a longer work (Beethoven’s 9th symphony, ~70 minutes) is $9.99 for the mp3 and $11.99 for FLAC. An mp3 of Beethoven’s 5th symphony is (for a limited time) available for free.
The (minor) catch… the downloads are concert recordings, from historical (going back to 1961) up through the most recent season (2006), and not “commercial” CD recordings. They do have commercially released CDs available for sale on the site, but not for download. The distinction, however, between a concert recording and a commercial release for classical music is arguably fairly small. Commercial recordings are sometimes just concert recordings with some post-production. Even “studio” recordings of a symphony are made in a concert hall, though sometimes with significant editing to merge several takes. So while there may still be the occasional cough or rustling of programs in the background, to my mind that’s inconsequential. For the downloads I have listened to thus far, the sound quality is very good. Kudos to the Philadelphia Orchestra for trying a refreshingly novel approach to music distribution.


Our very own Philadelphia Orchestra has opened a new online music store, the first of its kind among major symphony orchestras. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect is that the downloads are DRM-free(!), and you can choose between mp3 and FLAC (!!!). Prices are reasonable, but vary by length: an mp3 of most works (e.g., Beethoven’s 7th symphony, about 40 minutes) is $4.99 and the FLAC is $5.99. A short piece (Verdi’s Overture to I vespri siciliani, ~10 minutes) is $0.99 on mp3 ($1.99 for FLAC), and a longer work (Beethoven’s 9th symphony, ~70 minutes) is $9.99 for the mp3 and $11.99 for FLAC. An mp3 of Beethoven’s 5th symphony is (for a limited time) available for free.
The (minor) catch… the downloads are concert recordings, from historical (going back to 1961) up through the most recent season (2006), and not “commercial” CD recordings. They do have commercially released CDs available for sale on the site, but not for download. The distinction, however, between a concert recording and a commercial release for classical music is arguably fairly small. Commercial recordings are sometimes just concert recordings with some post-production. Even “studio” recordings of a symphony are made in a concert hall, though sometimes with significant editing to merge several takes. So while there may still be the occasional cough or rustling of programs in the background, to my mind that’s inconsequential. For the downloads I have listened to thus far, the sound quality is very good. Kudos to the Philadelphia Orchestra for trying a refreshingly novel approach to music distribution.

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