Take in a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic

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By Pete Davison Comment

The grandly-named Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall is a new free iOS app from the well-respected orchestra, and a companion to the group’s Web-based service. The app is available now as a free download from the App Store, but requires the purchase of 7- or 30-day tickets in order to watch most of the included content.

The Digital Concert Hall app is designed to allow fans of the Berlin Philharmonic and friends to watch a wide variety of concerts live as they happen at the orchestra’s home venue. The app also allows access to an archive of video content, including educational material, interviews with musicians and conductors, and other documentary movies. All content may be streamed directly from the Internet, or registered users may download non-live content for later viewing offline at their convenience.

In order to use most of the app’s features, the user requires an account with the Digital Concert Hall service. If the user already has one from the Web-based incarnation of the service, they can log in and use any tickets they have already purchased. Alternatively, the user may sign up for an account from within the app itself, but is required to add either a 7- or 30-day ticket to their account via in-app purchase in order to do this. Once registered, the app allows users to “favorite” content they would like to look at later, or download content for offline viewing. Users may also tap on a button to be reminded of an upcoming live performance — strangely, rather than directly interfacing with the iOS calendar, the app instead jumps to a Web page in Safari that then prompts the user to add the information to their device’s calendar.

Some content may be viewed for free without having to register for an account. This content is clearly marked for users who are not signed in or who do not currently have a valid ticket by the “play” button being in yellow rather than grey. This content immediately starts streaming upon pressing the “play” button; premium content that requires a ticket will prompt the user to log in or purchase a ticket when tapping on the grey “play” button. Video content is consistently high-quality and very well-produced, making the “price of admission” well worthwhile for those with an interest in the ensemble’s activities.

The Digital Concert Hall app is a good idea in more ways than one. From a music fan’s perspective, it allows them a low-cost means of watching professional musicians doing what they do best without having to make expensive trips to their home venue — plus the additional content a ticket purchases, which includes documentaries and behind-the-scenes footage, is a pleasing bonus. From the perspective of the Berlin Philharmonic, meanwhile, the app is an excellent means for them to extend their reach and build awareness. Those who may not have had the opportunity to see the ensemble perform live now have the chance to see the “next best thing” at their convenience. The “live video” element helps make it exciting, too, particularly with the prominent “countdown” clocks for each performance.

The app could maybe do with some social functionality to help extend its reach further — perhaps Facebook and/or Twitter integration to allow users to share what they are watching or the concerts they are planning on virtually “attending” would be beneficial. Even lacking these arguably unnecessary features, however, the Digital Concert Hall is an excellent, well put-together app with a simple purpose that it performs admirably. It sets a good example that other high-profile venues and acts may wish to consider following.

The Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall is not currently listed on the App Store leaderboards, but is currently enjoying a feature spot in the “New & Noteworthy” section of the App Store front page in some territories. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.

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