Primephonic Launches Classical Streaming in the US and Europe

September 6 2018 marked the launch of Primephonic, which appears to be the world's most comprehensive classical music-streaming service. Currently available in the US, the UK, and its home base of the Netherlands via web and mobile applications—iPhone/iPad users can access it now, and Android users in October—Primephonic currently streams well over 1 million classical tracks from over 400 labels worldwide, including the three majors: Warner Classics (Erato, Virgin, Warner), Sony Classical (and Sony Masterworks), and Universal Music Group (including Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Verve, and Mercury).

In a Skype conversation with Primephonic's CEO, Thomas Steffens, and COO, Veronica Neo, Stereophile learned that Primephonic used its initial beta launch to greatly improve every aspects of its platform. After extensive testing by journalists, musicians, students, and classical aficionados, Steffens proclaimed with confidence, "In terms of accuracy, I dare to say that we now have the best classical search in the industry.

"The essence of what we do is classical-only; it is not a side-business. Our findability, searchability, quality of recommendations, and playlists are designed from A to Z for classical music. You can search by recording date, composer, artists, title, opus number, genre, popularity, and even key (which conservatory students told us they need)."

Primephonic's professional classical curation team, led by conductor Guy Jones, offers daily recommendations, unconventional playlists, and a weekly overview of new classical recordings. The rationale for each playlist—how and why it was created, and what its theme is—is provided, along with plentiful background information on recordings. Stories and anecdotes about composers, recordings, and artists; side-by-side comparisons of different recordings of the same work that can be executed in a single click, as well complete overviews of recordings of that work; exclusive pre-releases; and immediate access to recordings on the date of their release are other essential elements of the Primephonic package.

In addition to a free trial period, the service offers two subscription levels: Premium—320kbps MP3 for $7.99/month or $79/year; Platinum—up to 24/96 hig-resolution streaming via Orastream adaptive bit-rate technology for $14.99/month or $149/year.

When asked about the possibility of streaming music in MQA, Neo responded, "We don't yet have MQA because a lot of the labels have not yet converted to MQA, and many people don't have MQA devices. But we are in talks with them and have a very warm relationship with them. We just have to watch and see how the industry develops. If there is more demand for MQA, then it will be part of our product development plan in the future."

According to Primephonic's press release, the site's business model "provides maximum returns for artists in the classical music industry. The service has designed a pay-per-second model to ensure a fair payout model that considers the longer duration of classical music works."

Primephonic hardware integration is already underway with Bluesound. Hopefully, many high-end companies will come on board, and include streaming links to Primephonic as well as Tidal and Qobuz on their network servers, portable phones and players, and other devices.

"Classical music lovers are very demanding," Steffens said. "Given that streaming is now the largest form of music consumption, we believe our service will fully meet their needs."

To convince me of same, Neo conducted several identical searches on Primephonic and Spotify. To keep my language clean, let's just say that there was no comparison.

In a few months, Primephonic will also introduce a download store, which will remain in service if it proves financially viable. After further optimization, Primephonic intends to go global in 2019.

volvic's picture

Been waiting for its arrival....streaming might just be in my future.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"The future ain't what it used to be" .......... Yogi Berra :-) ...........

dalethorn's picture

"The Future's So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)"

edincleve's picture

This sounds great. How long is the free trial period?

funambulistic's picture

As per their website, 30 days if one registers and pays via the website; 14 days if paying through the Apple app store.

greyscale's picture

Too bad it's for Mac & Android only. Would signup for a Windows version, NOT for MAC.

funambulistic's picture


PAR's picture

When I read your comment I thought: this has to be wrong? Surely nobody in their right mind would offer a classical music service that seems primarily aimed at listening on portable devices? Top 40 yes, but hearing Beethoven 9 via the tinny little speakers on my phone? Oh yes they have!!

OK I can use headphones ( a bit better but hardly my primary choice for hi-res music) or sell my entire home computing system and change to Mac. Oh yeah, bound to do that.

I predict little commercial success for this idea unless they rethink its platform. Oh, and they read the interview with Naxos' Klaus Heymann in Stereophile a couple of years ago ( I think August 2015). He bears the scars.

orastream's picture

Primephonic service is also available via most web browsers:

PAR's picture

If you click your link you will see that there is currently no web browser. It says that there is a beta one ( development)but to open an account now you have to use the ios version. The Android one is not mentioned.

There was indeed a web player for Primephonic until recently ( I could never get it to function correctly and gave up), but they appear to have discontinued it, at least for new customers.

In contradiction to JVS' headline for this piece Primephonic are not launching classical streaming. They did this two or three years ago. It was, however redbook only. This is really a re-launch and resembles the original launch to the extent that they are not completely ready with a properly functioning product.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

The initial launch of Primephonic, which I covered some time back, is now referred to by them as their "beta launch." Yet this launch, it seems, is incomplete, because non-Apple device platforms such as Android phone/pad and computer are not yet ready.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Primephonic not quite ready for prime time? :-) ............

dalethorn's picture

Good company - worth the wait.