Primephonic Launches Classical Streaming in the US and Europe

Primephonic Launches Classical Streaming in the US and Europe

September 6 2018 marked the launch of Primephonic, which appears to be the world’s most comprehensive classical music-streaming service. Currently available in the US, the UK, and its home base of the Netherlands via web and mobile applications—iPhone/iPad users can access it now, and Android users in October—Primephonic currently streams well over 1 million classical tracks from over 400 labels worldwide, including the three majors: Warner Classics (Erato, Virgin, Warner), Sony Classical (and Sony Masterworks), and Universal Music Group (including Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Verve, and Mercury).

In a Skype conversation with Primephonic’s CEO, Thomas Steffens, and COO, Veronica Neo, Stereophile learned that Primephonic used its initial beta launch to greatly improve every aspects of its platform. After extensive testing by journalists, musicians, students, and classical aficionados, Steffens proclaimed with confidence, “In terms of accuracy, I dare to say that we now have the best classical search in the industry.

“The essence of what we do is classical-only; it is not a side-business. Our findability, searchability, quality of recommendations, and playlists are designed from A to Z for classical music. You can search by recording date, composer, artists, title, opus number, genre, popularity, and even key (which conservatory students told us they need).”

Primephonic’s professional classical curation team, led by conductor Guy Jones, offers daily recommendations, unconventional playlists, and a weekly overview of new classical recordings. The rationale for each playlist—how and why it was created, and what its theme is—is provided, along with plentiful background information on recordings. Stories and anecdotes about composers, recordings, and artists; side-by-side comparisons of different recordings of the same work that can be executed in a single click, as well complete overviews of recordings of that work; exclusive pre-releases; and immediate access to recordings on the date of their release are other essential elements of the Primephonic package.

In addition to a free trial period, the service offers two subscription levels:
Premium—320kbps MP3 for $7.99/month or $79/year;
Platinum—up to 24/96 hig-resolution streaming via Orastream adaptive bit-rate technology for $14.99/month or $149/year.

When asked about the possibility of streaming music in MQA, Neo responded, “We don’t yet have MQA because a lot of the labels have not yet converted to MQA, and many people don’t have MQA devices. But we are in talks with them and have a very warm relationship with them. We just have to watch and see how the industry develops. If there is more demand for MQA, then it will be part of our product development plan in the future.”

According to Primephonic’s press release, the site’s business model “provides maximum returns for artists in the classical music industry. The service has designed a pay-per-second model to ensure a fair payout model that considers the longer duration of classical music works.”

Primephonic hardware integration is already underway with Bluesound. Hopefully, many high-end companies will come on board, and include streaming links to Primephonic as well as Tidal and Qobuz on their network servers, portable phones and players, and other devices.

“Classical music lovers are very demanding,” Steffens said. “Given that streaming is now the largest form of music consumption, we believe our service will fully meet their needs.”

To convince me of same, Neo conducted several identical searches on Primephonic and Spotify. To keep my language clean, let’s just say that there was no comparison.

In a few months, Primephonic will also introduce a download store, which will remain in service if it proves financially viable. After further optimization, Primephonic intends to go global in 2019.

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