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Sperm In Alium: A Different Way of Looking at the Unassailable Fact that Sex Sells Classical Music

July 11, 2012

The Daily Telegraph reports that sales of the Tallis Scholars' recording of Thomas Tallis great, 40-art choral work, Spem In Alium, rapidly rose this week owing to readers of E L James's erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey. From the story:

"The piece Spem in alium, sung by the Tallis Scholars is this week at number 7 in the official UK Classical Singles Chart.
The piece features in the novel by EL James. Readers who have bought the book have downloaded the song from iTunes, prompting the single to go from number 20 to number 13 to number 8 and then, this week, to number 7."

It's no news to the classical music industry that sex sells classical music. CD cases adorned with attractive classical artists in skimpy clothes have been de rigueur for the past 15 years or so.

But the case of Spem in Alium and 50 Shades of Grey puts a different spin on the this well trammeled belief. The point is this: With clever product placement, the classical music industry may be able to leverage the benefits of sex appeal without having to resort to the bare shoulders on CD covers (which, let's face it, don't make that much of a difference to sales figures anyway at the end of the day.)

50 Shades of Grey is doing wonders for the Tallis Scholars and the singers didn't have to take their shirts off and wiggle for the camera. (Not that this group would ever consider marketing itself in this way!) Perhaps the classical music industry could start to more aggressively work with publishing houses, movie producers and television companies to have classical music products "placed" at strategic points in the narratives?

It would be a case of selling classical music using sex (or sports or whatever else catches the mass market's eye) but less obviously like prostitution. 


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