Do you love classical music but find yourself struggling with the experience provided by streaming music platforms, like Spotify & co.? You’re not alone. Essentially, these services are popular/modern music-driven and their (poor) search options reflect that. Try looking for specific classical musicians or recordings, and you’ll see what I mean.
Over the past few months, I’ve been testing a new streaming music platform for classical music lovers. It’s called IDAGIO and it’s based in Berlin, with a team managed by Till Janczukowicz and Christoph Lange.
This week IDAGIO launched in North America, finally bringing its classical streaming to the U.S. and Canada (there are 130 countries currently covered – Japan and Greater China are still missing, due to copyright restrictions).
How does it stand out? Is it worth subscribing? Let’s find out in our IDAGIO review…
The IDAGIO Experience
IDAGIO’s interface is as minimalist and clutter-free as it gets. Simple backgrounds, clear text and focus on the musical content. Nothing fancy, just the essentials. If you’ve used other streaming platforms you’ll find familiar features like new releases, playlists and the possibility to ‘bookmark’ your favourite tracks, albums, etc. Also, there’s a Mood section, if you would rather let IDAGIO pick some music for you (I discovered some pretty cool tracks in there!)
Four of the sixteen moods available
The curated playlists are a nice touch. Speaking of editorial curation, I did find something missing. IDAGIO would really benefit from additional text content, such as biographies and possibly booklets. It would be nice to know more about the artists and their works, as you listen to them.
With licensing rights to all the major labels and more than a thousand independent labels and rightsholders, IDAGIO currently offers more than a million classical tracks, and is continuing to grow its catalogue with the addition of 20,000 new tracks each week. This library comprises recordings of more than 130,000 works, including exclusive content from key concert artists, orchestras, and opera companies.
IDAGIO’s default streaming quality is 160 kbps in AAC on iOS, and 192kbps on our web player. Listeners have the option to increase their audio quality to 320 kbps, the maximum possible bitrate for MP3, on both web and mobile, or lossless audio (FLAC, 16-bit 44.1 kHz).
I have mostly used the lossless FLAC during my tests (on Chrome, Mac OS X) and the platform performed as expected. I didn’t experience any streaming issues, and my speakers were happy to blast some uncompressed music. I just used the MP3 settings while on the go with my Android phone – honestly FLAC would be overkill considering the outdoor noise and the file size issues. IDAGIO doesn’t offer hi-res options (yet?), which for me, is not a dealbreaker but I know it might be for some audiophiles out there.
There’s some really impressive stuff here. The numerous criteria that make each classical recording unique – composer, work, conductor, orchestra, soloist, and more – are generally missing from the structure of the main streaming platforms. As a result, classical music lovers who use conventional services struggle with the lack of user-friendly search options, and the unsatisfactory search results they generate. Musicians and their recordings can thus be found with difficulty or not at all, drastically reducing visibility for classical artists on these platforms. Here’s where IDAGIO stands out.
IDAGIO has developed a proprietary data model that organizes and displays classical recordings in a clean, clear, and easily accessible way. Listeners can choose from a rich audio library that allows them to compare, for example, more than 290 versions of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.
IDAGIO’s exclusive content includes Brahms’s Fourth Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic under Christian Thielemann; recordings of complete Beethoven and Bruckner symphonic cycles with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Herbert Blomstedt; Thomas Hampson singing Schubert’s Winterreise ; and Ivo Pogorelich playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas Nos. 22 and 24, marking the legendary pianist’s first new recording in 18 years.
What’s even more impressive is the filter option in the Recordings tab. You can filter search results by period, ensemble, instrument, conductors, soloists, etc!
Check out our quick example video below:
A Different Approch To Royalty Accounting
According to the company, IDAGIO also offers an innovative solution to royalty accounting for licensing partners such as labels and artists. While streaming services typically calculate labels’ and artists’ pay in accordance with the number of tracks played, IDAGIO remunerates rightsholders by a play-per-second system calculated for each individual user. This is of great economic importance, since classical works and recordings are usually significantly longer than pop songs.
IDAGIO Meets Sonos
This week IDAGIO has also announced a new partnership with Sonos wireless sound systems. IDAGIO users will now be able to stream music directly from the apps to their Sonos devices, from which they will have full access to all IDAGIO’s special features.
Free Trial/Payment Methods
You can try IDAGIO free for 14 days. After that, it’s 9.99/Month ($ or €, other currencies might vary).
No contract, no cancellation fees and no commitment – you can cancel online anytime. IDAGIO currently accept VISA, MasterCard and American Express cards for online payment. On their web app they also accept payment via direct debit. Paypal is not an option yet, but they’re working on it.
A big thumbs-up for IDAGIO here. I find it an ideal platform for the discerning classical music lover, thanks to its impressive search options, a rich catalog and a smooth user experience. I just hope to see more curated content (biographies, sleeve notes, etc.) and a personalized recommendation algorithm sometime soon, it would really be the icing on the cake.
Now the question is: seeing what IDAGIO achieved, will Spotify, Apple, Google, and other streaming services finally get classical music right?