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Make It Classic(al): Naxos
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Make It Classic(al):

Classical music is an essential fundament for music theory as we know it today. But with an extremely rich history of over half a millennium–where to start digging? Let us be the conductor: Naxos is a good place to start. Founded in 1987 by Klaus Heymann, a German-born entrepreneur in Hong Kong, it’s now the world’s largest distributor of classical, jazz and world music.


Besides being a label, Naxos distributes music by over 700 labels from all over the world including Sony Classics, New York Philharmonic, Cantaloupe Music & Delphian. The catalog of Naxos spans over 60.000 releases ranging from Bach to Beethoven, and from classical orchestras to contemporary music which also touches genres such as folk, world music, electronica, and jazz.

But then again, where to start?! “Even though we have recordings with full orchestras, I would start out with our recordings that are a single instrument”, says Lauren Gudmonson (Micro Licensing for Naxos). “Classical music may seem intimidating, but there are a lot of great introductory recordings. You could use a simple cello melody, violin track, or piano chords to transform any track. For example, to make it more dramatic or full.”

Despite being grounded in a classical realm, Naxos has always looked to the future: as early as 1996, the label was one of the first in the world to put their entire catalog on a streaming website, they launched a Music Library subscription streaming service in 2002, and three years ago they joined services such as Tidal and Qobuz with lossless music streaming.

“Classical is not just for older generations,” continues Gudmonson, “a lot of the music we all listen to today either sample classical tracks or are inspired by the genre. That’s why for us Tracklib is so great: we are all about making classical music relevant again. We love seeing how creative all of the Tracklib users are.”

A track by Erik Satie is now limitedly available as a free download on top of this Label Spotlight. But Gudmonson got a few suggestions up her sleeve as well: “I would love to transform an iconic classical piece like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker that everybody has heard, but make it unique and my own. And I feel like a strong chorus from a choral track can make any piece become strong and dramatic.”