Alessandro Simonetto is a musician, producer and sound engineer. He is the founder and director of the Italian record label OnClassical, which is primephonic's label of the month. primephonic’s Silvia Pietrosanti spoke to him about the origins and the essence of his remarkable label.
What is the story behind OnClassical?
OnClassical was officially founded in 2004. The idea came about in 2002 when I decided to collect the recordings by some of the youngest talented pianists of the time. I had a brief collaboration with the Busoni International Piano Competition and they provided me with some contacts of the competition’s finalists.
OnClassical’s first concept was as a collection of MP3s put together, accompanied by a profile page for each artist. For most of the artists at the time, this was the only way to be present on the internet with a dedicated page.
In 2005 I decided to produce only my own recordings and to start distributing them online. Therefore, OnClassical was born as a self-produced label.
What is the engine of the label?
I love recording as much as I love the music. It’s as simple as that. I have been making recordings since I was a child of 4 or 5: I recorded songs, interviews, sounds and noises of all kinds. I still have some of these recordings. I understand this has nothing to do with OnClassical but it gives an idea about the only thing that influences me and my label: to record.
What does OnClassical stands for?
The name means On (line) Classical (music). In fact OnClassical, along with Magnatune in America, was one of the first labels to release music under Creative Commons licenses. OnClassical does not work with author’s societies. That's why we produce non-copyrighted composers (classical music of course fits with this) . This model is perfect also to avoid stressful and costly practices and to free the customers from higher prices.
How do you deal with artists and repertoire?
From the moment I started until now, I never asked the musicians to contribute to the production of the album. At the beginning, the rule was to give them 50 % of the earnings and have the master co-owned, but I soon realized it was impossible to continue in this direction, given the very weak revenues and high production costs. Thus we started a fair exchange between performance (from the artist), and recording and distribution (from me).
The repertoire, the registration room and the tools are chosen following my project. The artists also. With OnClassical we rarely accept external proposals but they are welcome if they are interesting.
The recordings are made with material of excellent workmanship and I try to follow the execution in the most careful way.
Where do you see the future of classical music?
It's hard to say, but most likely digital music and HD.
Does OnClassical believe in the digital market?
OnClassical has been among the very first labels - at least for classical music - to publish the entire digital catalogue digitally, albeit reduced to a few dozen titles. In 2005 we were among the very first to offer HD downloadable from the Internet.
What do you see in primephonic?
I was immediately struck by the very professional, sleek modern portal. I think primephonic will have the success it deserves because I am convinced that the future is going in this direction.
Enjoy 20% off all OnClassical albums for the entire month of January, using the voucher code: LOTMJAN