Elithist, antiquated, antiquated. Prejudices about classical music can be deeply rooted. However, it is a musical genre that continues to find ways to renew itself in the hope of bringing together a younger audience. And that, he seems to have found on social media, particularly on YouTube.This is suggested by the first annual report of Epidemic Sound, a Swedish company that offers easy access to more than 35,000 copyright-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 fastest growing genre among content creators in 2022.
So what is driving this renewed interest in the compositions of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert? Its timelessness, it seems. Indeed, the very expression “classical music” evokes the idea that the genre is not linked to a contemporary age. The works belonging to this musical repertoire seem to cross the ages, unlike certain songs that remain forever associated with a very precise moment.
These pieces also have the advantage of conveying a wide range of emotions, so they can be used as a soundtrack for a wide range of content. The classical 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 classic pieces to introduce her 491,000 followers to her life in the Svalbard archipelago, located halfway between the North Pole and the Norwegian mainland. “Classical music […] it can be moody and upbeat depending on the footage, so the genre really fits the feel I want to evoke in my videos,” he said.
Bringing classical music to new audiences
Musicians such as Christoffer Moe Ditlevsen and Hampus Naeselius are particularly benefiting from this musical trend. The Swedish pair are the classical 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 could serve as inspiration for others. “I hope there will be an even greater movement towards storytellers using classical music in their content, which also creates an opportunity for classical artists to continue to modernize the genre and appeal to new audiences,” he explains.
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This renewed interest in classical repertoire is not limited to YouTube. It is equally prominent on TikTok, the favorite social network of Gen Z. The hashtag #classicalmusic has more than 2.3 billion views on the platform. And classical works appear in videos as diverse as a video of trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf rehearsing, and a video of someone cutting pumpkin seeds into small strips. Here, too, classical music demonstrates its versatility. If these new uses may upset purists, they have the merit of encouraging young TikTok users to discover and appreciate a musical genre that is too often seen as stuffy and outdated. In fact, research suggests that under-35s have turned massively to classical repertoire during the Covid pandemic. In fact, its consumption increased by 17% between April 2019 and April 2020, according to a study prepared jointly by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Deezer and the British Phonographic Industry. And it’s a phenomenon that TikTok is fully aware of. The short-form video platform partnered with Warner Classics to launch a compilation of the app’s most-listened-to tracks in August. Here, all the songs had been reworked by the German Babelsberg Film Orchestra, including orchestral versions of “Say So” by Doja Cat, “No Roots” by Alice Merton or “Wipe It Down” by BMW Kenny. An initiative that will surely help bring classical music to new audiences.
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