What was Primephonic? The now-defunct classical music streaming service explained - MrLiambi's blog


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Saturday, 17 December 2022

What was Primephonic? The now-defunct classical music streaming service explained

Primephonic is a now-defunct music streaming service that exclusively offered classical music. It was acquired by Apple, and taken offline in the summer of 2021.

A post on the Primephonic website states that "the Primephonic service has been taken offline. We are working on an amazing new classical music experience from Apple for next year."

As of writing, this Apple classical music service has yet to materialise, though there has been evidence that it's in the works.

If you're interested in the services that Primephonic used to offer, you can find those below:

What did Primephonic offer? 

Primephonic was a complete classical music streaming app. Primephonic's best feature was its search because it enabled users to search classical music by period, genre, style or personnel, such as who conducted the performance. Essentially, users could sift through vast quantities of classical music by looking at other factors (up to eight variables) rather than just the artist, song, or album search available on other streaming apps.

Founded in 2017, the service boasted over three and a half million tracks from 170,000 artists across 230,000 albums and 2,400 labels. A manual curation team worked to make sure everything was categorised correctly. Primephonic claimed to have the largest classical database in the world, at 230,000 albums.

"Classical music is complicated…it has a lot of data associated with it" says head of curation Guy Jones. A single piece can have hundreds of different recordings and demonstrated this to Pocket-lint by showing a Beethoven piano concerto with 571 different recordings available. The app recommends the pick of the versions - which is curated manually for the top 500 works. 

The playlists were also curated with the classical listener in mind - rather than just a bunch of "relaxing classical" tracks that might be found on another platform, Primephonic had more granular beginner playlists like Choral Essentials or Renaissance Essentials to get users started. And, of course, there were numerous new releases.

Jones said that classical music is so diverse "but it's interesting that classical is this thing that people feel they have to understand before they can enjoy it. There's a long-standing idea that it's elitist." However, Jones argued that it does not need to be elitist and there are plenty of entry points.

"There's an idea of classical music as being peaceful and relaxing," said Jones. "A lot of it can be thrilling, despairing, hyperactive or anything else."

What subscriptions and apps did it have? 

A full subscription cost £9.99 (Premium) or £14.99 (Platinum) a month. There was a 14-day free trial. The difference between the two tiers was essentially the streaming quality - either 320kbps MP3 or 24-bit lossless FLAC. Users could save by paying either £99.99 or £149.99 upfront for a year.

Primephonic CEO Thomas Steffans told us that the split between the two subscriptions was roughly 45/55 with most opting for the higher audio quality.

There were iOS and Android apps, as well as a web-based app on Macs and PCs. Offline listening was supported on the mobile apps as expected. It was also fully integrated with Sonos.

It could not be used with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices at the time, but users could naturally connect to those devices and others with Bluetooth, Chromecast, and AirPlay.

Digital booklets

Primephonic had introduced booklets, which were PDFs of CD inlays that users did not get the experience of with streaming. Because of the detailed information they contained, including them added something to the experience.

Primephonic had collaborated with major labels such as Sony, Universal, and Harmonia Mundi, as well as stacks of smaller labels, over the booklets and was providing tens of thousands of them for listeners already. Primephonic said it was planning on bringing them to as many albums as possible.

"CD booklets are very important to classical music enthusiasts," said Steffens. "Our subscribers are passionate about the genre and want to absorb as much information detailing composers, instrumentalists, and conductors, as possible."

Source : https://www.pocket-lint.com/apps/news/152783-what-is-primephonic-the-classical-music-streaming-service-explained

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