As the controversy surrounding internet piracy continues brewing, music industry officials and musicians continue to find new ways to promote and profit from their work. Digital downloads are one tool that make it easier for musicians to connect with and cultivate a fan base globally. The Recording Industry of America reports that there are more than 400 authorized digital music services worldwide offering more than 12 million songs. Digital sales compromise nearly one half of total revenues for the music business in the United States.
Digital downloads aren’t just for "current musicians", however. Apple’s recent acquisition of The Beatles music catalog resulted in 450,000 copies of Beatles albums and two million individual songs being sold in the first week alone.
Another exciting entry into the digital download market is Europe's leading digital label, X5. The label licenses music, acquires various catalogs and refines the material for high end products. This process has allowed them to form exclusive partnerships with and distribute music to companies like iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster and Spotify. Since their formation in 2006, X5 has become the best selling classical label in the United States, with a product portfolio of over 200,000 titles. Spotify's principal owner, Northzone Ventures, is also investing 7 million Euro in the label.
In December of 2010, the company launched their latest classical music series entitled Rise of the Masters. Rise of the Masters is unique in that it highlights the works of twelve of history’s greatest composers, including Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. The recordings feature some of the world’s greatest orchestras including the City of London Simfonia and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta as well as soloists Freddy Kempf, Torleif Thedeen and Monica Hugget. The downloads are available via the iTunes Store and all other major online retailers. X5 has also launched a Twitter account, Facebook page and iPhone app to promote the series.
While digital downloads are certainly helping the music industry to regain a bit of financial ground, series like Rise of the Masters seeks to accomplish a more important goal. The music label aims to "animate the digital custom base and reinvent digital music worldwide." X5's use of social media, modern artwork and mobile apps to promote the series are engaging a new generation of listeners and hopefully encouraging these new listeners to patronize their local arts organizations.