Digital technology could end up being the saviour of an uncertain international classical-music industry, speakers concluded at a panel discussion in London yesterday evening (May 17).

Digital technology could end up being the saviour of an uncertain international classical-music industry, speakers concluded at a panel discussion in London yesterday evening (May 17).

During the session, titled "Classical Music: A Tradition With a Future," and organized by the U.K.-based music-business network called MusicTank, the various panellists agreed that classical music is far from dead.

But unless new technology is explored and exploited to appeal to a new generation of music listeners, classical recording and concert ticket sales are threatened.

"By harnessing the latest technology, we can help the classical sector," commented keynote speaker Chaz Jenkins, head of LSO Live, the recording unit of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Jenkins argued that digital-distribution platforms will enable classical labels and acts to reach the coveted 20-to-30 year old demographic, and the over-50s eager to learn about knew ways of listening to music.

Cathy Graham, president of contemporary classical ensemble London Sinfonietta, pointed out the need for the classical sector to understand digital copyright issues. "This is an area that publishers and ensemble orchestra need to discuss," she said.

Other participants urged the recording industry to boost its investment in the marketing of classical music and market research into what consumers want.

Despite their unquestionable commitment to classical recordings, the major labels could be more effective in their marketing strategies, argued Costa Pilavachi, the former president of Decca Music Group, part of Universal Music Group.

"In the last seven to eight years, the atmosphere has been one of defensiveness and protectiveness," Pilavachi said. "The only mantra from on high at the majors is for the classical labels to sell millions. But the system does not allow for that size of investment in the marketing."

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