Progressive Presto

Our industry is quickly evolving to find a new place in an ever-changing world.  We’ve recently had conversations with a range of members about effective use of digital technology to the benefit of their businesses and customers, and Matt has been excited to hear about a new development at Presto Music.

Since it was established in 2001, recorded music has formed a key part of Presto’s offering, and they have built a loyal following for their huge catalogue of CDs from all the important classical music and jazz labels.  In time they added downloads at a range of quality levels and now they’re extending this further with their new bespoke streaming service, launched in February.

The streaming market is already a fairly crowded one with platforms including Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz, so I asked Paolo Pezzangora (Head of Marketing) at Presto what they can offer that is different and more targeted at their customers.  We discussed the difficulties of navigating recordings on existing platforms – a result of the complexity of composer, work and artist information that is unique to classical music.  Most major works have been recorded countless times by different performers, and there’s even some cases where one artist has recorded the same repertoire multiple times Eg. Alfred Brendel’s 3 Beethoven sonata cycles. Presto’s long-established sales of recordings puts them in a great place to challenge this, and Paolo told me that they have been able to draw upon their huge database to make navigation much easier for Presto customers.

This is a great example of building on existing systems to move forward, and a practice that could be built upon in different applications across MI.  The iOS and Android app they have developed also ensure that the Presto Music brand remains firmly in sight.

I asked Paolo how they are approaching the much-discussed criticism of how artists are paid for streaming of their work, and he explained that rather than the ‘per track’ model which is most often adopted, the new Presto service works on a ‘per second’ approach, leading to fairer terms for the musicians.  It’s always great to see musicians properly rewarded for their work and, as a side benefit for our industry, the more fairly they are renumerated the more likely they are to invest in new instruments and accessories in further pursuit of excellence.

We discussed the issue of sound quality, often an important consideration for classical music and jazz fans.  The Presto Music app streams up to hi-res (24-bit/192kHz) quality and so given an aptX Bluetooth connection to suitably spec’d equipment it will already bring good results.  As a user of a BluOS-based hi-fi streamer I asked Paolo whether there are any plans for integration with this and other options such as HEOS, Sonos, and MusicCast, and he informs me that the work required is underway.  More exciting still is the news that Presto are refining their own hi-fi streamer which will be tied in with their different levels of subscription – I’ll keep an eye on developments as they happen.

On the topic of subscriptions, Presto Music are offering three levels – Streaming, Streaming Plus, and Collector.  The last of those doesn’t include streaming and is aimed squarely at collectors of physical media and sheet music.  Those other two options work as you’d probably expect, the first offering the full streaming service and Streaming Plus adding discounts and free delivery on all other purchases, including digital downloads.  The last option will particularly appeal to those like me who use streaming to try recordings before buying the CD.

So, here’s a well thought through addition to Presto’s offering which integrates seamlessly with their existing business model to offer more potential for business growth alongside new services for their customers.  This exact example is unique to Presto as the biggest (and one of very few) retailers of classical and jazz recorded music in the UK, but the idea of looking for new possibilities which build on existing foundations is one from which businesses across the MI sector could take a profitable lead.

We’re always keen to hear about exciting developments across retail and manufacture members so whether it’s experiential retail enhancements, community integration, product developments or anything else, make sure we know about them so that we can celebrate them.

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