Universal Launches Sinfini Music in Australia

Universal Music has pressed the button on its classical portal Sinfini Music in Australia -- marking the service’s first expansion step outside the U.K.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s launch, Universal Music Australia Classics & Jazz GM Cyrus Meher-Homji said Australia was an obvious choice for a classical push. “We have a vibrant classical market in Australia and a classical department with a strong market share. We want to get classical to the widest possible audience and that’s what Sinfini does,” he tells Billboard.biz.

The Australian site will feature editorial written by local and international journalists, and it’ll feature a magazine-type television program, which will also air terrestrially on Studio and other TV channels Down Under. 

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Sinfini Music launched in the U.K. in November 2012 with a goal to provide a global online destination for new and existing classical music fans, as well as reaching a younger demographic. Roughly 30% of its visitors have been U.K.-based, while it gathers an international audience from the U.S., Canada, Germany, France and Australia. “It’s a Website that is part magazine, part shop, and I think it has everything that’s good about classical music,” explains Universal Music Group International chairman & CEO Max Hole in a statement. 

The music major unveiled its Australian service with a function in central Sydney, where Decca-signed artist George Perris performed for guests.

Universal Music Australasia President George Ash; George Perris; Universal Music Australia Classics & Jazz GM Cyrus Meher-Homji

Meher-Homji is sanguine about his company’s goals for the new offering. “We want to make it the classical destination for Australia,” he says. The Sinfini team is working on relationships with media, educational and performing arts organizations, so “we can cross promote each other,” he explains. In the year ahead, the marketing strategy will include dedicated TV and cinema ads. Sales will be driven through third-party retail partners and through Universal Music Australia’s GetMusic digital music brand, and each member of Universal’s classical department Down Under will be hands-on with the site. 

Universal’s classical Website joins a symphony of digital music services which have chosen Australia as their second launch market, among them Google Play Music All Access, iTunes Radio and Beats Music. Strategically, Australia makes sense. Its digital music market has been on a tear of late. Though CD sales were down sharply last year, ARIA reported revenue from streaming services almost doubled to Australian $20.9 million ($18.6 million), and the sector now accounts for 5.9% of the total market value. For the first time, digital (54.7%) outpaced physical (45.3%) in 2013.

George Ash, president, Universal Music Asia Pacific is confident the new service will give Australia’s classical community opportunities to spread their wings abroad. “Australia is a really fertile ground for classical music and musicians, composers," he tells Billboard.biz. "To be able to provide a platform where all of that creativity can resonate, well, the content created for the site is going to bleed into the rest of the world. It’s going to give an amazing ability for Australian composers, musicians and content to get out into the world.”