VC INTERVIEW | Naxos Founder Klaus Heymann Provides his Knowledgeable Recommendation for Younger Musicians


The Violin Channel had the privilege of chatting with Naxos Founder and head, Klaus Heymann. We mentioned the collaboration with the Kreisler Violin Competitors, his ideas on beginning a profession as a younger musician, and the state of the classical music trade.


Are you able to inform us about your self and the way you began Naxos?

I moved to Hong Kong to work for an American Newspaper. When the Struggle in Vietnam got here to an finish, I grew to become a distributor of recording and sound gear, and with the intention to enhance the gross sales of the merchandise, I started to arrange classical music live shows. When the classical musicians got here to carry out, they realized they could not discover their information anyplace in Hong Kong, so my staff and I began importing their information. Then we grew to become the licensee of main corporations like RCA and ultimately grew to become the most important pop firm in Asia, exterior of Japan.

In 1973, the Hong Kong Philharmonic requested me to be on their board, and a 12 months and a half later, they have been knowledgeable orchestra. Inside the first 12 months of my affiliation with the ensemble, violinist Takako Nishizaki got here to play with them — who then turned out to be my future spouse. Earlier than I used to be allowed to marry her, her father requested me to make it possible for she saved training!

In 1977, my spouse discovered the Butterfly Lovers concerto and we recorded it in her hometown of Nagoya, Japan in 1978. The recording was an enormous hit in Hong Kong and I began recording extra Chinese language repertoire. In 1982, I began the Marco Polo label which targeted on world premiere recordings and my spouse needed to study and document fairly just a few violin concertos that had by no means been recorded earlier than. However ultimately, my spouse and I additionally needed to document customary repertoire.

We realized that we couldn’t compete with our Asian and East-European orchestras with the main document corporations and subsequently determined to compete on worth and launched the Naxos price range label. The essential thought was to promote a CD on the worth of an LP, at a time when different CDs often price three or 4 occasions greater than an LP. That turned out to be an unlimited success, an insane enterprise that mainly established us. Then we began our personal distribution corporations in all main music markets and ultimately began distributing different labels. That is how the entire thing developed slowly.


How do you suppose your background in enterprise helped you obtain the success you probably did within the classical music trade? 

Journalists all the time ask, what is the secret of your success? I do not learn music. I do not play an instrument. I by no means labored for an additional document firm. I feel these are the three important substances. However I need to say, Naxos and Marco Polo didn’t develop out of nothing — I used to be operating different companies on the time. I used to be the Bose distributor for Hong Kong and China, we constructed the primary 5 trendy recording studios in China, and so forth. These different initiatives helped fund Marco Polo and Naxos, offering a wholesome monetary basis beneath the brand new developments.


Are you able to inform us about your self and your spouse’s private relationship with the Worldwide Fritz Kreisler Competitors?

My spouse’s father, who was additionally the co-founder of the Suzuki methodology, performed Kreisler recordings to her from the day she was born. Takako was the primary scholar to finish the Suzuki course and was awarded a trainer’s diploma at age 9. She then studied at Juilliard and one 12 months was awarded the Fritz Kreisler Memorial Scholarship. These days, she owns Kreisler’s 1732 Guarneri violin. In 1992, she was invited to sit down on the Kreisler competitors jury and he or she gladly accepted. We’ve each been again since and I’ve helped financially through the years.


The primary prize winner of the Fritz Kreisler Worldwide Violin Competitors will obtain a possibility to document a CD on Naxos. Are you able to inform us about that? stroll us by way of how that works and its significance?

Naxos affords a recording alternative to every winner of the Kreisler competitors. Fanny Clamagirand, the winner in 2005, for instance, has recorded with us a number of occasions.

Nevertheless, getting a recording out of a contest prize is just one component in making ready for a profitable profession. It’s a mixture of issues. For one factor, you want good administration, and for an additional, a performer’s character is taken into account. Typically the fifth prize winner has a greater profession than the primary prize winner.


With that being mentioned, how essential is it for younger artists, generally, to have a recording carried out within the early phases of their careers? 

It is extremely helpful, however it all is determined by what the artist and their administration do with it. If the artist desires to do customary repertoire, I usually say, “Look, what important consideration are you going to get with one other recording of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto? You’ll be in contrast with all different nice names. Do one thing distinctive.”


You will have been profitable within the classical music trade for a lot of a long time — what would you say are the main variations between now and again within the day for launching a younger artist’s profession? How have the substances for a profitable profession modified over these a long time?

To begin with, CD gross sales are so small, they’re nearly insignificant. Most individuals right this moment do not have a CD participant anymore and may take heed to something on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and so forth. So should you promote 1’500 or 2’000 copies of a CD, we’re very completely satisfied. Alternatively, we’re very lucky to have this gigantic catalog of labels that we personal, whose income provides us nice flexibility. The trade is doing effectively, however it’s not coming from promoting CDs.

However way more essential today, greater than ever, is to have video content material. Video has a far higher attain than audio now. An artist can recover from 50,000 views on a video recording after which solely promote lower than 4,000 CD copies. All of our new recordings now are audio AND video, so for a younger artist, I feel this can be a essential ingredient.

Moreover, having good and highly effective administration is the principle ingredient to a profitable profession.


What would you say are the tangible gross sales targets now in comparison with these within the seventies, eighties, and nineties?

The occasions the place CDs offered hundreds of thousands of copies are over. 4 years in the past, a greatest vendor was 10’000, three years in the past, 7’000, two years in the past, 5’000, and now it is down to three or 4’000. This isn’t the identical for everybody. There are nonetheless just a few individuals which can be massive names that may promote possibly 20’000. I do know in Korea, the large Okay-Pop artists can nonetheless promote 1,000,000, however within the classical music trade, 2’000-4’000 is a really massive success.


What would you say is your greatest piece of recommendation for rising artists right this moment?

Be taught as a lot as potential past simply your instrument. Discover ways to make music movies and recordings, how one can make preparations, how one can construct a mailing record, how one can create an internet site, how one can discover college students, and how one can educate remotely. Even study to play an uncommon instrument. Have as many instruments as you possibly can to be sure you can truly make a residing. Taking a category in music enterprise may also be useful.

Moreover, in case you have the capability to observe and take part in competitions, you might need a fortunate strike, win first prize, and get picked up by good administration. I additionally know artists who truly make a residing from being opponents.


What’s your recommendation for younger enterprise entrepreneurs, those which have massive concepts for transferring classical music ahead?

Although I am 85 years previous, I hold telling my people who I shouldn’t be the principle driver of recent concepts. The youthful technology has potential and there’s nonetheless quite a bit, quite a bit that may be carried out. Finally, the classical document trade is a comparatively small enterprise, possibly 5 hundred million USD a 12 months. Whereas that appears like some huge cash we must always keep in mind that that is equal to the budgets of solely 5 – 6 municipal opera homes in Germany. The actual cash is in all of the publicly funded, both taxpayers or sponsor-funded organizations, like opera homes, orchestras, and music faculties. The large query is: how one can get to that cash.

It’s a enjoyable enterprise to be in. We’re so fortunate that we make a residing from one thing we actually like to do. And that is what everyone in our trade ought to suppose additionally. We do not become profitable from low cost stuff. We become profitable from working with the world’s biggest minds and composers. We should always be thankful for that ceaselessly.



The Fritz Kreisler Worldwide Violin Competitors will happen between September 17 and 25, 2022, in Vienna. The competitors is open to any violinists born after September 25, 1991, who’re decided to pursue a global profession.

Prize cash of €20,000, 15,000, 10,000, 7,000, 6,000, 5,000 will go to first by way of sixth place respectively. The primary prize winner will obtain a number of live performance engagements together with with the Lithuanian Nationwide Symphony Orchestra, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Nizhny Novgorod State Philharmonic, and the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana. Moreover, the primary prize features a CD recording on Naxos and a tour of Asia in Could 2023 with World Tradition Networks (WNC).

Earlier main prize winners embrace VC Artists William Hagen, Emmanuel Tjeknavorian, Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, and Sergey Khachatryan.