Passionato, the world’s largest collection of high-quality DRM-free classical music launches today in the UK.
Founded by highly experienced music industry maven and former president of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, James Glicker, Passionato lets classical music lovers browse, sample and download single tracks, works or albums from its catalogue of classical music recordings.
Music is sold either as 320kbps high-quality MP3s, or in the popular lossless FLAC format. Offering music at this quality seems a shrewd play to attract the most demanding audiophiles of all – classical music buffs, who have ignored online services because music quality is relatively poor.
All of the music is DRM-free, which allows music purchased on Passionato to be transferred to any computer or portable audio player (including the iPod) and burnt to CD without any restrictions.
Post-launch Passionato will continue to sign-up more independent labels, and to add new releases from the key major and independent labels on a weekly basis.
Passionato is free to join, with no subscription and with highly competitive, flexible pricing according to whether users download tracks, works or albums. Users will be able to download free beta software – the Player – which allows them to organise all the music they download alongside any music they import (rip) from their classical CD collections.
Passionato’s extensive recording information (metadata) means the Player can identify any classical CD a user imports by matching it with Passionato’s own database, providing instant information on, for example, composer, date of recording, record label, recording location, recording producer, recording engineer and period.
Store visitors can listen to 60-second samples, browse by period, composer, artist and label. There’s also expert recommendations, reviews, a sales chart, a music lover’s forum and customer ratings of tracks.
Another feature that seems a lot better than iTunes, users can post links to their favourite classical albums on 34 of the most popular online social networks, including Facebook and MySpace, directing friends to the Passionato Store where they can hear free audio samples.
Marking the launch of the service, everyone who registers at passionato.com can claim 10 free pre-selected tracks, one of which is which is an entire 30-minute work (current pre-selected work is Saint-Saens’ Symphony No.3).
James Glicker, founder and CEO of Passionato, carried out the preliminary research for Passionato while living in the US after he finished a two-year term as President of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Glicker has also been Head of Worldwide Marketing at BMG Classics (trading as RCA Victor), Managing Director of BMG Australia and President of MusicNow (now part of Napster)
Glicker said: “I’m an avid consumer of classical music myself and, having worked in the industry for twenty years, I am aware of how technology and the internet are becoming increasingly a part of how people access, consume and share knowledge about classical music. Passionato is delighted to have the cooperation of the largest majors and we will over the next six months and beyond be signing up even more labels – all with the ultimate goal of presenting people who love classical music with an easy and cost effective way of organising and expanding their music collections.”
The UK recorded music industry association, the BPI, adds: “Digital distribution already offers great choice as to how music fans can acess and enjoy music online, and its potential is even greater. We expect the new Passionato service will greatly enhance the digital music offering for classical music aficionados and we warmly welcome innovation of this type in music retail.”