I've kept quiet about this until now, amidst all the good pointers to it going on elsewhere, but I'm massively pleased to be able to point people to the press release we just issued around the public response to offering mp3 downloads of BBC Radio 3 programmes around Beethoven's first five symphonies.
"Live performances of Beethoven's first five symphonies, broadcast as part of The Beethoven Experience on BBC Radio 3, have amassed an incredible 657,399 download requests during a week long trial. The downloads – launched on 6 June - offered complete Radio 3 programmes containing live performances of the symphonies by the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. They were available free of charge and therefore not eligible for the Official UK Download or Top 40 Singles charts, although the public’s enthusiasm for the programmes is evident from the individual totals:
- Symphony 1 (6 to 13 June) - 164,662
- Symphony 2 (7 to 14 June) - 154,496
- Symphony 3 (6 to 13 June) - 89,318
- Symphony 4 (7 to 14 June) - 108,958
- Symphony 5 (7 to 14 June) - 139,905
"Roger Wright, Controller of Radio 3, said: "The response has been incredible and much bigger that we expected. "The success shows Beethoven's enduring appeal and we hope this will encourage new audiences to explore online classical music."
"Simon Nelson, Controller of BBC Radio & Music Interactive, said: "This trial was all about gauging listeners' appetite for downloads and the results are astonishing. We are hopeful that we have attracted people who wouldn't previously have explored much classical music, as well as inspiring others to embrace digital technology."
"Gianandrea Noseda added: "I'm thrilled that our performances have reached such a large, new audience and hope this trial will encourage more people to experience and enjoy orchestral music live in concert."
I can't tell you the amount of buzz this is generating right across the BBC. Lots of extremely interesting questions continue to be raised by the success of our trials - from distribution to commercial policy, from music strategies to on-demand radio, from marketing to navigation and so on - and we're feeding a lot of the learning and creative ideas right into the heart of the various bits of strategic and tactical BBC work going on at the moment. It's profoundly interesting for us, and I hope for some of you.
You'll have missed the first set of symphonies, but the remaining four will follow on from the 27th June, so keep your eyes peeled on Radio 3.