An interesting concept has come from the New York Philharmonic — a NY Phil season pass on iTunes. Everyone knows iTunes is a destination point for downloading music, but it has also become a source for downloading just about every other type of content as well (from podcasts to television shows). Until know, iTunes season passes were primarily used for television shows and other serial media. This season, the NY Phil is experimenting with selling a pass for the orchestra’s concert season. The concept of having concert performances available for download soon after a concert is over has been kicking around for sometime now. Some, like the Berlin Philharmonic, are making concert broadcasts available online and the Metropolitan Opera offers current HD productions as well as a vast catalog of previously recorded operas available for viewing. Both come at a cost and both enrich the audio experience with visuals. I believe the NY Phil’s iTunes season pass is the first to offer a subscription for audio recordings only.
The season pass makes perfect sense and I hope the NY Phil continues to offer season passes in future seasons. For many orchestras, concerts over the course of a season, aren’t always just a string of stand-alone musical events. Concerts reinforce and build off of one another. In Seattle a few years ago, the SSO had a season highlighting music by composers who emigrated to the United States. Alan Gilbert’s first season on the podium may not be defined by one, overarching musical idea, but that’s not to say future seasons won’t be. Where seasons are tied together by one idea or series of ideas, a season pass would be an invaluable tool to experience the artistic concept as it evolved over a series of months.