In an era of declining album sales, the Austin-based Miró Quartet has decided to share its performances with the world, for free. This September, they’re offering five of their albums online at no cost, including the latest recording, “Transcendence,” featuring Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No. 15 in G major.
“Ever on the forefront of innovation in classical music, Miró Quartet is always looking for creative solutions to enhance the direct connection with our audience,” cellist Joshua Gindele said in a press release. “Like the other internationally touring quartets out there, we found ourselves in the record/tour/sell-latest-CD cycle and we wondered if there was another way.”
Free downloads of music aren’t new, but they aren’t common, either. In 2007, the rock band Radiohead released their album “In Rainbows” as a pay-what-you-want download followed by a standard CD for brick-and-mortar shops. And in 2014, U2 famously confounded listeners by automatically “gifting” its album “Songs of Innocence” to practically every iTunes user on the planet.
Miró’s approach is the right path, and also includes an educational component. Again, from the press release:
Miró Quartet is pleased to announce “The Miró Quartet Transcendence Education Contest.” This contest invites school music programs to submit a 30 second video to potentially win a Miró Quartet appearance and master class to be held at their onsite location. Interested parties are invited to view the website for full contest details, beginning September 1, at: www.miroquartet.com.
Meanwhile, the ensemble will be making three Texas appearances in September, in Austin (Sept. 11), Amarillo (Sept. 13), and Houston (Sept. 15). They’ll be joined by clarinetist David Shifrin for two of those dates.