This post isn't a paid plug - it's a sincere bit of info about a useful resource. I started buying releases from Naxos in the nineties when I zeroed in on it as a label that made quality classical performances available for a merciful price. The label was never a strictly classical affair, though, and last September, Naxos launched a streaming service to accommodate not only its own world music releases, but also an ever-expanding archive of material from other labels. The Smithsonian Folkways catalog is there, for example. So are releases from, among others, ARC, Celestial Harmonies, and Nonesuch (which had started out as Elektra head Jac Holzman's classical/world budget label in the sixties).
I've been a regular over at the Naxos Music Library World, poking through their ever-expanding archive and having a virtual globe-trot for hours on end. If you have any curiosity in exotic sounds beyond your own familiar dominions, you might consider having a look-and-listen.
I had a chat with Nick D'Angiolilllo, Naxos USA's director of licensing and library services who answered a few questions for me:
How does the Naxos Music Library World distinguish itself from other online world music resources?
It's unique in that it offers many, often exclusive, catalogs of titles in one place that's intuitive for the average user, and it also provides institutional features to support the specific educational/institutional missions of a given community.
What services do the subscription rates cover?
As much music as possible! They're based on the number of simultaneous users who are given access to the actual recordings in addition to booklets, liner notes, and biographical info on artists, labels, composers, and many other "people" associated with the music. We arrived at the rates to respect the art of the musicians and the wallets of subscribers and institutions, taking into account the size and uniqueness of the collection.
What sort of specific response/feedback has the library gotten from users?
Nothing but good things so far. Subscribers have been enjoying the new "browse by map" addition, which we added on March 1. One teacher told us it was like "inviting students to the musical table" and then serving them a "full international buffet." We liked that.
In a nutshell, what are your duties as the director of licensing and library services? Are there any challenges you face that might come as a surprise to readers?
A great question! Many of my duties are related to the licensing side of that "title" (film, TV, advertising, and video game synchronization).
On the Library Services side of things, I think the biggest question or "misconception" readers might hold is how the music makes it from content owners to a streaming service like NML World. Not only are label partners responsible for compiling their data digitally, but we at Naxos also employ over 35 musicologists throughout the world - from Nashville to Manila to Hong Kong - to personally check and audit every single album that makes its way through the Naxos ecosystem. They're the real "heart and soul" behind our library services (and our other digital businesses).
How much might the library expand? Is it a "sky's the limit" situation?
Absolutely. Naxos's first foray into the streaming music world began with some of its own back catalog but now encompasses nearly 95% of the recorded classical music market, thanks to label and content partners both large and small. We hope to bring the same level of "value for money" proposition to subscribers on the NML World front. New titles are added daily, and new labels are continually added to bolster the musical offering.
What sort of role do you see the library playing several years from now?
Ideally, we see it being the "go to" place for both institutional research into musical styles from around the world and the destination for world-music enthusiasts. We know it will take some time to gather the musical content, though, so several years from now we hope to be much further along at ingesting as much music as possible.