Anyone who knows their stuff when it comes to classical music knows that the typical music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music just don’t quite cut it. Sure, these other music streaming apps have their definite strengths – they have 30 million songs to choose from (or more), they have fun and interesting ways to discover new music and artists (through curated and personalized playlists), and they hold their own when it comes to app and site design. However, these apps are far too geared toward popular music, and a true classical music aficionado is already well aware of the frustrations that can come with this fact.
Classical music needs to be archived and cataloged slightly differently than most popular genres of music like rock, hip hop, and alternative. Apps, then, like Spotify or Tidal are less than ideal in helping listeners browse the annals of various performances, interpretations, and lesser-known contemporary classical composers. Fans of classical music require a streaming app that caters to the unique nature of the genre.
There are tons of different performances in classical, many of which are various takes on the same song, movement, symphony, or sonata. Therefore, merely searching for a composer or a sonata movement will not guarantee that you will easily be able to find the particular performance that you are looking for. In fact, on many of the more mainstream music apps, it can be rather difficult to pare down the options and find one specific iteration of a historic classical piece. This is precisely why classical-specific streaming apps have started to pop up all over the place in recent years.
At the forefront of this movement in classical music streaming services is Idagio. One of the more relatively new music streaming services to hit the market, Idagio has already garnered plenty of critical acclaims. And it shows no signs of slowing down in the years to come. If you are looking for the classical music streaming service that has the most potential to continue growing, improving, and evolving, Idagio might be just the app that you need.
Idagio was created in 2015 by former artist manager, Till Janczukowicz alongside Christoph Lange, who famously founded the German streaming service, Simfy. When asked what he hoped to accomplish with Idagio, Janczukowicz simply said, “…to offer the ultimate streaming service for classical music worldwide.” Idagio’s official launch as an iOS app took place at the Salzburg Festival in 2015.
From there, Idagio’s focus has been primarily around expansion. Although their initial archive of classical music was nothing to roll your eyes at, they will not sleep until they do, in fact, become the “ultimate streaming service for classical music,” and one of the central accomplishments that will help them get to that point involves acquiring the largest number of classical songs for listeners to choose from.
In December of 2017, Idagio added the entirety of the Sony Classical catalog to their repertoire, as well as the Deutsche Grammaphon catalog (which includes the labels, Decca, Phillips, and ECM) in January of 2018. But they did not stop there. In April of 2018, Idagio also announced that it would be taking on a partnership with Warner Classics, offering the streaming service the entirety of the Warner Classics and Erato catalogs to their library as well.
Originally a European company, it wasn’t until September of 2018 that Idagio launched in North America, following an impressive and promising €10 million round of funding. This also led to the additions of the music from several labels in the Outhere Music Group (most notably Alpha, Phi, Aeon, and Ricercar), expanding their ever-growing library of classical music even further.
In November of 2019, Time magazine named Idagio as one of the world’s best inventions of recent years. And today, the streaming service has over 2 million songs and claims to add around 20,000 more every week. There is no stopping Idagio’s momentum it would seem.
If I’m being honest, Idagio has one of the best app designs that I have ever seen when it comes to music streaming services. It is sleek, intuitive, easy to use, and it looks awesome. If I had to put one word to the aesthetic direction of the app, I would have to go with “elegant,” not unlike much classical music itself. If you were to somehow dress an app up for a night at the symphony, I suspect that it would end up looking like Idagio.
A sleek black and white theme gives the app a very classic look and feel. But it doesn’t get bogged down in nostalgia or classicism by any means. It is every bit as modern and capable as, say, Spotify or Tidal in functionality. You can browse songs easily by subgenre, composer, using a smart search feature, or even by mood. This is one of those rare cases where the app works as wonderfully as it looks. There is a reason, then, why the app has received an average rating of 4.7 stars (out of 5) on the Apple App Store from the nearly 7 thousand people who reviewed it.
Idagio has so much to offer. Furthermore, Idagio has tons to offer fans of classical music specifically. I love the fact that you can browse songs by mood. Because, especially given the enormous library of classical music to be found on Idagio, you don’t always know precisely what you want to hear. By browsing their expertly curated playlists by mood, you can easily and conveniently discover what you actually wanted to hear, even if you weren’t aware of it beforehand.
There is also a function that I love on Idagio – one that makes so much sense for classical music streaming app – and that is the fact that you can easily compare multiple recordings of the same song with no effort necessary. Just browse offshoots of a track to quickly jump between performances, interpretations, conductors, etc. This is one of those features that truly does make this app great.
For those of you who may have enjoyed the Discover Weekly feature of Spotify, fret not … Idagio has its own spin on this as well. Enjoy a weekly personalized classical playlist based on your listening habits, making it difficult not to find great new classical music that you love.
Plus, as if all that wasn’t enough, you can enjoy exclusive classical music playlists that have been curated by music experts and artists themselves. Idagio provides so many ways for you to delve into the classical music community, all from one convenient app.
Desktop and Mobile Experience
Although Idagio does offer a web version, I highly recommend using the app. Not that the desktop version of the streaming service is terrible. In fact, it’s not too bad at all. However, it is not nearly as streamlined or easy to use as the app. This is often the case when it comes to music streaming services.
It’s not that the web version of Idagio is particularly bad. It’s just that the app version is so exceptionally good. I say go with the app. However, if you cannot for whatever reason, you will not be disappointed, I don’t think, by the desktop version either. All features are still available, they are just not quite as beautifully packaged and easy to use.
Pricing and Plans
So, Idagio offers a two-tiered subscription service. You can choose between Idagio Premium or Idagio Premium Plus. Everything that I already mentioned comes with an Idagio Premium account, and that will run you $10 a month. However, if you want an even better bang for your buck, perhaps you should try Idagio Premium Plus for only $12.99 a month.
With the Premium Plus option, you also get offline listening, the ability to create your own playlists (weird that this wouldn’t come with the basic premium service), high-quality lossless streaming (FLAC 16-bit), and the ability to connect to 3rd-party devices like Sonos, Chromecast, Bluesound, etc..
Suggestions that I have for Idagio
Well, actually, my main suggestion for Idagio concerns its subscription pricing. I personally do not see much of a point in offering a second tier of subscription for how little is offered in return, not to mention how insignificantly more expensive it is (roughly $3 more per month). Why not just make the basic premium subscription cost, say, $12 a month and offer everything that Premium+ has at that singular price? I find it bothersome that I need to pay an extra $3 a month if I want to be able to create my own playlists … isn’t that a very fundamental feature of a streaming app?
Idagio claims to be the number one classical music streaming app on the market. And that just might be true. There are some areas for improvement, sure, as is the case with any app … but, all in all, I am very impressed with how well Idagio functions, especially for the unique genre that is classical.