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  • Writer's pictureMusic Tectonics

Naxos: Data-Rich Music Streaming Service

It may come as a surprise that one of the first subscription services offering streaming music was the feisty classical label, Naxos. And this was back in the 1990s. Naxos has always been all about access, about making more repertoire available to a broader audience by offering quality but budget-friendly recordings of great classical works. This mission moved from physical formats to digital delivery, an approach that started with hard drives packed with music and soon shifted to streaming via the internet, a money losing proposition at the time due to the cost of bandwidth. Naxos went ahead and did it anyway. “The founder of Naxos, Klaus Heymann, is a visionary,” recounts Jeff Van Driel, CEO of Naxos in America. “He saw that this was the way music was going to be consumed in the future.” By the late 1990s, Naxos offered classical music fans a monthly subscription that brought them the label’s entire catalog, defying the technological and other constraints of the time. Now, Naxos has launched Naxos Music Library World, a huge collection drawn from nearly 70 years of releases. From field recordings in Appalachia to intimate glimpses into Asian court music, Naxos Music Libraries include more than 1.75 million tracks available to hundreds of thousands of listeners at more than 3,000 institutional sites worldwide. Naxos adds approximately 1,000 tracks a day. To give the fullest possible experience to listeners, the Naxos World Music Library gives subscribers the full liner notes to accompany the streaming tracks. In addition, the library has honed its search functions, carefully cleaning up data from thousands of albums to ensure serious listeners and curiosity seekers can find exactly what they are looking for. Going far beyond the track title or artist, Naxos Libraries let you search by label, country, date, and a range of other key factors. This approach makes the music library an ideal tool for listeners from a wide range of ages, with diverse goals: multicultural preschools, ESL programs, community bandleaders searching to broaden a group’s repertoire, and even music-loving travelers, hoping to connect more deeply with their destinations. Yet finding the perfect music for all these use cases would be impossible without good data. Naxos gets it right by employing over 35 musicologists to work on the metadata, the information that accompanies recordings and lists vital elements about the piece or song. “Our musicological team morphed from our own in-house experts, when we started creating the data,” Van Driel explains. “We’ve become extremely adept at this, and we are often hired by other labels to clean up their metadata, especially for classical works.” This makes discovery simple. “Because of our work on the data set, our libraries are leaps and bounds ahead of anything else out there,” says Nick D'Angiolillo, Naxos Director of Licensing “It can be used as a research or business tool, as you can quickly and easily cross search and find multiple recordings of same work, view everything on a single label’s roster, and access all the booklets for the recordings in one place.” How works get tagged and where they get filed is decided by humans, not monolithic algorithmic machines, and making the call isn’t always easy. “The discussions about what to include and where to include it happen daily,” D’Angiolillo states. “At Naxos, musicologically informed humans are figuring out what’s jazz, what’s classical, what’s pop or world, not machines, which is a large distinguisher from the rest of the industry.” The focus on genre, repertoire, region is a marked departure from other consumer-facing streaming services. “We put labels at the forefront of the service, in a different way to organize compared to other streaming services, which are artist driven,” continues D’Angiolillo. “It is a very conscious decision.” Naxos Music Library World is the most comprehensive online World Music library available, with music from more than 150 countries and 1,500 cultural groups. NML World contains more than 5,000 albums from such renowned labels as Smithsonian Folkways, ARC, Warner, Sony, Naxos World, plus dozens of other smaller independent labels. Because new content is added continually, there is always something new to discover in NML World. Subscribers can search the NML World by country, cultural group, and many other criteria. Every track, album and playlist has a static URL, so sharing NML World content among users is easy. Naxos Music Library World is one of a suite of online Naxos libraries including Naxos Music Library, Naxos Music Library Jazz, Naxos Video Library, Naxos Spoken Word Library, and Naxos Works Database. All Naxos online libraries are backed by our own dedicated team of musicologists, programmers, and designers. Naxos Music Library sets the industry standard in streaming classical music, featuring over 120,000 albums from 750 prestigious record labels, including BIS, Blue Note Records, Chandos, Sony Classical, Nettwerk Music Group, RCA Records, Sun Records, Universal Music Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Virgin Classics, Warner Classics & Jazz (including the former EMI Classics catalog), Nimbus, and many others. With almost 1.7M tracks of music and tools for music education, Naxos Music Library is available for institutional and professional subscriptions and is currently being enjoyed by over 2,000 universities, performing arts organizations, and public libraries throughout the world.

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