Why The Internet Is Falling In Love With Classical Music
Elitis, obsolete, old-fashioned. Prejudices about classical music can be deeply rooted. However, it is a musical genre that continues to find ways to reinvent itself in hopes of reaching a younger audience. And it seems to have found its way onto social media, especially YouTube.
So suggests the first annual report of Epidemic Sound, a Swedish company that offers easy access to more than 35,000 royalty-free compositions. It shows that the use of classical music on YouTube has increased by 90% in the last 12 months. This would make classical music the genre that saw the strongest growth among content creators in 2022.
So what is driving this renewed interest in the compositions of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert? Their timelessness, it seems. Indeed, the expression “classical music” itself evokes the idea that the genre is not tied to a contemporary era. The works that belong to this musical repertoire seem to traverse the ages, in contrast to certain songs that remain forever associated with a very precise moment in time.
These pieces also have the advantage of conveying a wide range of emotions, and can therefore be used as a soundtrack for a wide range of content. The classic repertoire is used in humorous and educational videos, as well as in news and fashion reports, according to the “Sound of the Internet” report. YouTube artist Cecilia Blomdahl uses classical pieces to introduce her 491,000 followers to her life in the Svalbard island group, halfway between the North Pole and the Norwegian mainland. “Classical music […] can be both melancholic and joyful depending on the footage, so the genre fits very well with the feeling I want to evoke in my videos,” she said.
Bringing classical music to new audiences
Musicians such as Christoffer Moe Ditlevsen and Hampus Naeselius benefit in particular from this musical trend. The Swedish pair are the classical music composers whose pieces have been used in the most YouTube videos this year, according to Epidemic Sound. Trevor Kowalski, Megan Wofford and Franz Gordon also make the list.
For Oscar Höglund, CEO of Epidemic Sound, this can serve as inspiration for others. “I expect there to be an even greater movement towards storytellers using classical music in their content, which also creates an opportunity for classical music artists to continue to modernize the genre and appeal to new audiences,” explains he.
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This renewed interest in the classical repertoire is not limited to YouTube. It’s just as prominent on TikTok, Gen Z’s favorite social network. The hashtag #classicalmusic has more than 2.3 billion views on the platform. And classical works appear in videos as diverse as a rehearsal video of trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, and a video of someone cutting pumpkin seeds into small strips. Here, too, classical music proves its versatility. If these new uses may annoy purists, they have the merit of encouraging TikTok’s young users to discover — and appreciate — a musical genre that is all too often seen as stuffy and outdated. Indeed, research suggests that under-35s have turned en masse to the classical repertoire during the Covid pandemic. In fact, their consumption increased by 17% between April 2019 and April 2020, according to a study produced jointly by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Deezer and the British Phonographic Industry.
And this is a phenomenon that TikTok is fully aware of. The short-form video platform partnered with Warner Classics to release a compilation of the most-listened tracks on the app in August. Here all the songs by the German Babelsberg Film Orchestra have been reworked, including orchestral versions of “Say So” by Doja Cat, “No Roots” by Alice Merton or “Wipe It Down” by BMW Kenny. An initiative that is sure to help bring classical music to new audiences.
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