Scarla Radio, a new classical radio station, conducted a fresh study into who the consumers of classical music are and what the trends show. Surprisingly, the research discovered that a growing audience for the classics are under 35 year olds.
To many, the decision to greenlilght Scala Radio, a radio station founded on the belief that classical music can appeal to younger audiences, will have come as a surprise. But the study has shown clear indications of new listening trends, with almost half (45%) of young people saying they see classical music as an escape from the noise of modern life.
The new digital radio station will have DJ Simon Mayo at the forefront of its presenting team when it launches in March. Mayo, who left BBC Radio 2 last year, will be joined at Scarla by the unorthodox orchestral music lover Goldie.
The launch of a new classical entertainment station aimed at younger listeners is based on more than a hunch. Research found that a new generation of listeners was switching on to classical music through different sources, with 48% of under-35s exposed to it through classical versions of popular songs such as Taylor Swift’s Blank Space. By merging contemporary pop songs with classical arrangements it offers a new spin on the original version which bridges the gap many young people have with current music and more classical works. An example of how this works in practice is demonstrated below:
Furthermore, 74% of people in the same age group had experienced classical music via a live orchestral performance at a film screening, according to analysts at Insight working for Bauer Media, owner of Scarla Radio.
The media company had this to say in reference to the research: “Our studies have shown that film screenings, experiential events such as Secret Cinema and themed performances such as Pete Tong Ibiza Classics are key drivers in exposing younger audiences to classical music.” And this analysis appears to ring true as classical music is resonating more with the younger demographics than it has in decades. What has caused this resurgence is still a cause for debate but one possible indicator is the role it plays in modern entertainment and society as a whole.
Jack Pepper, Britain’s youngest commissioned composer, explored this theory: “Classical music is surrounded by the misconception that it’s irrelevant, sterile and inaccessible to a majority of people. What many don’t realise is there is an authentic modern-day narrative to accompany classical music which is really connecting with people.”
Citing the appeal of soundtracks for video games as well as for primetime TV dramas and the cinema, the 19 year old said that even the greats of the conventional repertoire still had something to say. “Even the classical masters like Beethoven and Mozart have shocking, entertaining, humorous and sometimes tragic life stories. A classical composer is a normal human being with the same ups and downs we can all relate to.”
Jack will also be joining Scala Radio when it launches in March.
The growing popularity of classical music among young people follows recent survey results highlighting young people’s use of art galleries and museums as sanctuaries and figures released last week showing rising sales of poetry among young readers.
These findings can only serve as a positive for the classical genre with fears it could slip into insignificance for many of the British public. This research highlights a turning point, one that is hopefully not short-lived, so that many people can enjoy the genre of classical music for generations to come.