For years now my favorite classical music station has been the one that is part of VRT, the network of public TV and radio channels broadcast throughout Flanders, i.e. the northern half of Belgium (and also on-line, of course). That classical station for ages was simply known as VRT3, until its brand was spiffed up a bit and switched to Klara in December of 2000. That’s “Klara” as in Klassieke Radio: “Classical Radio.” The station has a number of truly stupendous on-air presenters, but I won’t go into them here. Rather, I need to bring up what’s claimed on Wikipedia to be the station’s 2.27% share of its market.
That’s low, admittedly – or maybe not: it’s classical music after all. (Mainly, but also jazz, movie music, etc.; also (American) country music as of recently, starting Saturdays at 18.00 hours CET.) At least you can’t accuse them of not trying to do anything about this, as we can see from the truly ingenious innovation the station has now offered for weeks.
I’m talking about Klarafy, basically a web-app designed to woo people to classical music by taking their custom playlists (from Spotify) and calculating how their taste in music translates into classical compositions – complete with ready-to-click output links to those compositions to allow people immediately to hear for themselves!
Let me translate some of the text there on the Klarafy page to give you an idea of where they are coming from:
. . . classical music is a rich, inexhaustible treasure-chest of the most diverse sorts of music. Because we at Klara believe that there must sit some music in that treasure-chest that can enchant you, we developed Klarafy: a web-tool that lets you discover classical music in a completely new manner. Not academically or chronologically, but in the most personal way: on the basis of your current musical taste.
That Klarafy page itself is also pretty interesting to visit, even if you think you’re not in the market for this (which, let me be clear, is free). Especially the first three videos, which show a mix of people actually trying it out. Yes, it’s all in Dutch, but you hear them list their favorite pop music (and the artists’ names then show up on the screen in a list, for clarity), and of course follow along as they input their Spotify playlist and see what Klarafy comes up with.
All of them – including Nicole and Hugo, the middle-aged couple in the last of these three videos – seem delighted with what they find. But of course they are! Again, you see what it is Klarafy suggests, or at least the headline items. And the tool just doesn’t blindly spit out its suggestions, but also provides some reasoning to go along with that (although that’s the part that you’ll miss if your Dutch is not good) – like, “Oh, you like Barbara Streisand, a strong female vocalist, so you’ll also like the arias from Verdi’s La Traviata!”
So they click, and they hear classical music with which they presumably have not been familiar before. “Catchy!” they all then say, pretty much.
Try it yourself! – if you’re on Spotify, if you have a playlist there to submit or are willing to make one.