25 years and thriving
Ah, Naxos. For those of you not familiar, Naxos has been, since the 1980s, a major force in classical music recording. As I started to buy my own recordings in the late 1980s, Naxos was a major source of puzzlement for me – why were these CDs so cheap ($4.99 or cheaper instead of the normal $20 and up)? If they were cheap, did that mean they were poor quality? Where were the places these recordings were made? (Bratislava? Chisinau? Vladivostok?) Who were some of these composers? As Naxos gained more traction, there were stories in the media about the payment (or lack thereof) of some of the recording artists. And, as I gained more listening experience, it was fair to say that some of the recordings were, both in terms of recording quality and interpretation, somewhat lacking. That said, Naxos was and is a source of wonder that I’d almost forgotten about until reading this article.
From a business standpoint, there is a lot to admire in this continual reinvention. Today, going to the Naxos homepage, it’s clear that Naxos has its fingers in many pies – Apps, podcasts, streaming services, Twitter/Facebook/YouTube and lots more. It’s a blueprint for how to survive as a record label in this day and age.
From a musical standpoint, the most striking thing about Naxos is the breadth of its catalogue. Genre, instrument, era, composer, artist – there is just SO MUCH in the catalogue, waiting to be discovered, it’s almost frightening. Recordings can be a major source of inspiration wherever one is in one’s musical journey. So, while I maintain some reservations about Naxos (and will be reading the The Story of Naxos to learn more), I have to say, it is a fascinating company and a terrific resource that’s worthwhile taking a look at.