Perhaps you don't expect the classical music field to be at the bleeding edge of new techniques for recommending new music, or what they might call 'audience development' (though see my Classic.TV case study). So I was interested to see the announcement that Classic FM's website has been enhanced to include a Learning Area. You couldn't get away with calling anything on a pop/rock site a 'learning area'.
The disappointment is that the Learning Area turns out to be a series of very flat pages, organised hierarchically. Not only is there little that's interactive in the pages, there are very few links. Compare, for example, Classic FM's profile of Yo Yo Ma with All Music Guide's. The Kids & Music area isn't for kids, but their parents.
Earlier this year the Andante website, which had aimed to be "the leading classical music site on the Internet", shut down. Can it be that classical music listeners just aren't 'digital natives' as much as the rest of the population? I'm sceptical that there's a big correlation here. After all, classical music sells well online.
In the US, NPR (National Public Radio) publishes a classical encyclopaedia in book form that comes with online access to 600 pieces of music, provided in partnership with Naxos. eMusic's classical section follows the same format as its other sections, but — in its mix of editorial content, associative links between related recordings, playlists and suchlike — is still reasonably effective.
So, I could well be missing some leading examples of innovative online classical music services — if so, what are they?