Classic Cat aims to make Classical music more popular by making it more accessible. It does this by providing an index of some 7000 free to download classical performances on the internet,
sorted by composer and work. Classic Cat is specialized in audio files, but contains also some video, sheetmusic, lyrics and midi links. Only high quality performances are listed.
The links on Classic Cat are regularly checked so there should be few dead links.
For some websites you need to register. This is indicated on Classic Cat with the white-on-black "R". It is always free and is asked when you start your first download there. Please note that these websites are not part of Classic Cat.
Classic Cat does not have any control over the linked sites. For asking permission to use a soundfile for some special use you should contact the artist or the webmaster of their website.
Long term goals
The copyrights of most classical music have expired. Unfortunately that applies only to the music sheets and texts.
The availability of performances where the copyrights have expired is very low. And for those that are available
on the internet (usually from the 1930s) the "owner" often claims copyright for digitizing them.
The long term goal of Classic Cat is that for all major classical works for which the copyrights have expired
there should be performances available under a very liberal license: no non-commercial limitation, freedom to integrate in your own composition and no obligation for attribution or share-alike.
The only limitation should be that one shouldn't claim credit for the work of others.
Since the arrival of the internet the market share of classical music has cratered. It doesn't fit in the hit driven
model of the music industry. It isn't very visual so it doesn't work well on the Youtube. And where in the past people
at least had to buy a cd when they liked a specific work they now can go to Youtube and listen to a performance by
some other performer.
Only a small group of classical musicians makes serious money from recordings. For the others performances are the main source of income. And they are suffering from the fact that classical music has become less popular over the last decades. The availability of free performances could revert this trend as it will lead to people hearing classical music more often.
Classical music is a common human heritage that should be available to everyone to do whatever (s)he wants. Having your own internet radio station, using it in a film or in your own composition: it is should all be possible without any hassle about copyrights.
This will not only increase the popularity of classical music. It will also create a new commons that will enrich our culture.
There have been small scale initiatives. But the licenses are often too restrictive, the quality is often too low, and the scale is so small that few people take it seriously. And too many artists - despite making hardly any money from cd sales - see it as a kind of betrayal of their profession to contribute free music.
Free software long suffered from similar problems. That only changed when the GNU license put some big projects on the map and made people consider it as a serious alternative. Classical music needs something similar. The complete top-1000 of out-of-copyright compositions should be freely available. That will enable people to do new things with the music. And that in turn will justify free music as more than avoiding copyrights. At that point more people will see donating music to the commons as a positive thing.
I am convinced that one day there will be such a commons of free classical music. My goal is too bring that day closer. Classic Cat is a first step to get people used to the idea. I am looking for other people who in some way want to contribute to this project. It might be music, organizational skills, publicity, money or whatever other thing that might help. Use the contact link at the bottom to contact me.
Classic Cat is a project by Wim Roffel from the Netherlands.
The cat logo was generously made available by The Art Cat (the link no longer works).