Post-launch Passionato will continue to sign-up more independent labels, and to add new releases from the key major and independent labels on a weekly basis.
Passionato is free to join, with no subscription and with highly competitive, flexible pricing according to whether users download tracks, works or albums. Users will be able to download free beta software – the Player – which allows them to organise all the music they download alongside any music they import (rip) from their classical CD collections. Passionato’s extensive recording information (metadata) means the Player can identify any classical CD a user imports by matching it with Passionato’s own database, providing instant information on, for example, composer, date of recording, record label, recording location, recording producer, recording engineer and period.
Passionato’s Store allows users to listen to samples of up to 60 seconds of every track in its catalogue, and to browse by composer (subdivided by period, e.g. Baroque, Renaissance or Romantic, or by nationality), by artist (subdivided by voice, e.g. mezzo-soprano or baritone, or by nationality) and by record label.
In this way, users can roam Passionato’s store freely, discovering new recordings without having to pay a penny. The Passionato Store also features the Passionato team’s own expert recommendations on highly rated works, thousands of reviews from national media and specialist music publications, and a regularly updated chart. Users can rate works using the Player, an easy method of sorting favourite pieces.
Passionato also encourages musical debate amongst classical music lovers within its dedicated Community section. The forums provide a place for quick-fire debate on a wide range of topics.
In the spirit of discovering and sharing classical music, Passionato includes a number of Web 2.0 features. Users can post links to their favourite classical albums on 34 of the most popular online social networks, including Facebook and MySpace, directing friends to the Passionato Store where they can hear free audio samples. Users can also send personal recommendations/links to their friends directly via email via the ‘Send to a Friend’ function, and bookmark their favourites using sites such as Del.icio.u.s.
To coincide with Passionato’s launch, everyone who registers at passionato.com can claim 10 free pre-selected tracks, one of which is which is an entire 30-minute work (current pre-selected work is Saint-Saens’ Symphony No.3).
James Glicker, Founder and CEO of Passionato, carried out the preliminary research for Passionato while living in the US after he finished a two-year term as President of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. James’s twenty years in the music industry include positions as Head of Worldwide Marketing at BMG Classics (trading as RCA Victor), Managing Director of BMG Australia and President of MusicNow (now part of Napster).
James says: “I’m an avid consumer of classical music myself and, having worked in the industry for twenty years, I am aware of how technology and the internet are becoming increasingly a part of how people access, consume and share knowledge about classical music. Passionato is delighted to have the cooperation of the largest majors and we will over the next six months and beyond be signing up even more labels – all with the ultimate goal of presenting people who love classical music with an easy and cost effective way of organising and expanding their music collections.”
The UK recorded music industry association, the BPI, adds: “Digital distribution already offers great choice as to how music fans can acess and enjoy music online, and its potential is even greater. We expect the new Passionato service will greatly enhance the digital music offering for classical music aficionados and we warmly welcome innovation of this type in music retail.”