Attention classical music fans: Passionato is open for business — but only in the U.K.

Almost a year ago, Deutsche Grammophon launched the Web’s best classical music store, DG Web Shop. Passionato, a new classical music download site, aims to take over.

Passionato provides the world’s largest collection of high quality classical music downloads with more than 18,000 recordings available. Unfortunately or unfortunately, depending on which side of the pond you live on, Passionato is available only in the U.K., with plans to expand to the U.S. and elsewhere at a later date.

Passionato downloads are single tracks, albums, or complete works in high quality 320kbps MP3 or lossless FLAC formats. These — three cheers! — are available free of digital rights management, meaning they can be played on any computer or portable music device, including the iPod.

Founder James Glicker, a former president of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, hopes to boost the classical music industry, which, like the rest of the physical music world, is sagging. Catalogs from major classical labels and independents will be sold at the site.

“This is a major motivation for us,” Glicker told the BBC of Passionato’s desire to boost the classical music industry. “It’s ironic that while classical music concert attendance is on the rise, labels are reducing their recordings and physical retailers are shutting down like there is no tomorrow.

“So the future of classical music distribution is online,” he said. “The only thing that has stopped this inevitable shift from happening to date has been audio quality, plus the DRM issue.”

To promote classical music — and, of course, Passionato — anybody registering with the site can download 10 free pre-selected tracks. Not a bad deal, if you like classical music. And live in the U.K.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

One Response to “Attention classical music fans: Passionato is open for business — but only in the U.K.”

  1. David McGhee says:

    I have downloaded several CDs from Passionato and most have been unusable because the files have gaps causing breaks in the music. this means that the download is not the same as the CD.

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