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The struggle of streaming Classical Music
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Why Can't Streaming Services Get Classical Music Right?

Anastasia Tsioulcas 
 
Why is classical music so hard to enjoy on streaming services? In one word, it's metadata. Metadata is the information that coexists with every digital music file: each and every piece of information about a selection of music that a listener might find useful to know, and what makes the information in one file discernible from the next. In the case of classical music, relevant and important metadata includes the name of the piece of music, the composer, the album it's from, the performers, the label that released the recording and the year it was recorded.

If that metadata is wrong, or — as is so often the case — incomplete, then there's a big problem. Call it the "tree falling in a forest" conundrum: If classical recordings can't be found and heard, they functionally cease to exist.

And it's easy to see how things can head south, very fast, when it comes to classical music: We're talking about a genre that, in its broadest strokes, encompasses hundreds of years' worth of music, many thousands of composers and performers, very similar titles (ex: Franz Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 103 versus his Symphony No. 104), multiple movements within most compositions and innumerable recordings, with each piece of music recorded by many different artists. No wonder the metadata gets complicated.

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