One of the compelling threads bubbling up from MIDEM:
Major labels have become so obsessed with “classical crossover” (think Josh Groban, Charlotte Church, et al) that they are abandoning traditional classical releases and throwing their budget to these pop-style recording projects.
Thing is, there’s a steady market for classical. Sales are consistently steady, if not up. Savvy independent labels are picking up the slack by releasing more classical recordings. 10,000 to 50,000 units might not be attractive to a major, but those kinds of sales can do wonders for an indie. Especially since it’s not terribly expensive to record a classical work. (Two high quality mics and an orchestra that can pull off the piece in one or two takes? Good deal!)
iTunes plays in this space, too — craving a particular piece and you can pull any number of versions up on your system. The indie tracks are cheaper and, in many cases, just as compelling.