At a the recent startup event Scale18 in Berlin, we met Christoph Lange, who is turning his passion for classical music into a business – a streaming service for classical music lovers. In 2006, at age of 22, Lange founded the streaming service Simfy, which soon became Germany’s largest competitor to Spotify. Lange and his Simfy co-founder Steffen Wicker then went on to found the data-driven real-estate platform Homeday. Now, Christoph is building IDAGIO.
Christoph, what is Idagio, and what problem does it solve?
IDAGIO is a streaming service specifically designed for classical music. Based in Berlin, we are a team of over 70 people from 30 different nations, all passionate about technology and classical music. From our unique search and lossless sound to our expert curation – IDAGIO gives classical music lovers a high quality streaming experience really tailored to the needs of the genre. You can’t find that with any other service. It all starts with the fact that – although classical music is available on well-known all-genre services – classical doesn’t work on these platforms, because their structure is pop-driven: song, artist, and album. But who is the artist in classical music? The conductor, the orchestra, the composer, the soloist? These important criteria are missing. The result is a frustrating user-experience due to confusing and incorrect search results. This also means that musicians and their recordings can only be found with difficulty or not at all, drastically reducing visibility for musicians on these platforms. With IDAGIO, we solve those problems.
What were the biggest challenges for IDAGIO within the first three years and how did you master them?
I’d like to use athletics as an example: we want IDAGIO to succeed in the long-term, which means we are not a running a 100 meter sprint, but running a marathon. Our biggest challenge was to find the right investors who share our vision and are willing to support us during the marathon that is in front of us. We feel very fortunate that we have amazing investors on our side, who are in on this with us – among them Macquarie, b-to-v and Tengelmann Ventures.
How many clients do you currently have and who are they?
Simple answer: People that love classical music. But there is not one specific typical user persona. The range goes from music students using IDAGIO to practice and develop their own style, to people who just love the curational aspect and use classical music to relax, to the classical music expert, who wants to compare different recordings of the same piece. We have users in over 130 countries, and recently launched in the US and Canada. Since our launch in 2015, IDAGIO has been downloaded over 500,000 times.
What is your business model – how are you making money?
IDAGIO is a subscription model. There is a free 14-day trial, and after that IDAGIO is available from €9,99 per month.
What is your growth strategy? What marketing hacks/channels have worked best for you?
The foundation and driver for growth is a great product – most of the money we invest therefore goes into our technology and content in order to constantly improve the product. Besides that, we’re increasingly investing in performance marketing, with the leading channel being Facebook. No hacks involved though, we believe in building substantial value through a great product.
You already raised about €18 million in VC funding. In which areas will you invest the funding of the latest round?
As mentioned, we recently launched in the US and Canada – entering the most important market for audio streaming, accounting for nearly 40% of total global recorded music revenue. The investment from our last financing round supports our market entry and allows us to further invest in our technology.
Where do you want to be with IDAGIO in three years from now?
We are building a lot of exciting features right now and I can’t wait to see them in the hands of our users in the coming years. At the same time, we’re big advocates of staying lean and agile, so there is really no grand plan that spans multiple years. As long as we continue to move fast and towards our vision of sustaining classical music in the 21st century, I’m happy.