Joep Beving Put His Album Online For Fun And Became Famouse


A Dutch amateur musician has given up his day job after seeing his self-released recordings streamed online more than 85 million times. Composer and pianist Joep Beving, 41, has become a one-man recording phenomenon and will give his first concert in Britain this week after a breakthrough into the big time.

Beving, who lives in Amsterdam, performed and recorded his “mood music” album, Solipsism, for the enjoyment of his family. Then, partly for fun, he made it available on music-streaming service Spotify. He never imagined that the contemplative, atmospheric piano tunes would draw such a vast audience worldwide. But such was the popularity of Solipsism that four record companies were soon fighting over him, and he has now been signed by Deutsche Grammophon (DG). A follow-up album, Prehension, was released last month. Speaking to the Observer last week, Beving said: “It’s overwhelming. Very surreal.”

Christian Badzura, a DG senior executive in Germany, said Beving has become “one of the most listened-to living pianists in the world” and the 85 million streaming count was very impressive. “It proves,” he said, “that if you compose good music you have the chance to connect with people immediately. The music does the talking – in the streaming world as well as in physical sales. Now, with the support of a world-renowned label, he is extending his reach.

“For classical music, this is a really big number. A lot of pianists who interpret Chopin or Beethoven accumulate big numbers. But for just one person with his own composition, it’s very much on the top.”

Badzura is DG’s director of new repertoire, with a portfolio that includes Max Richter, the chart-topping composer whose work includes major film scores such as Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. He first heard Beving’s music by chance when a vinyl copy of Solipsism was playing in a late-night bar in Berlin. One of Beving’s German advertising friends had left it with the barman. Badzura recalled: “At 2am, I happened to hear that record. I was mesmerised. It transformed the whole place. Beautiful music.”

He approached the barman, who put him in touch with Beving’s friend: “I contacted her and said, ‘I need to meet Joep: his music is wonderful,’ not knowing Beving was already huge in the digital space.”

At nearly 6ft 10in, with wild hair and a flowing beard, Beving has a physique in stark contrast with the delicacy of his music. DG likens him to “the gentlest of giants, his delicate melodies soothing the soul in these troubled times”.

Badzura said the apparent simplicity of Beving’s music leaves “so much space for the imagination and the mind to travel. It’s brilliantly done. This music gives you the opportunity to slow down, contemplate and listen to melody again. It’s just an upright piano. But the way it’s recorded, engineered and mixed, it sounds so big.

“It didn’t need anything electronic or further instrumentation. That makes it really special.”

Tracks on the second album have titles such as A Heartfelt Silence. Beving said that, while his music uses a “classical vocabulary”, it is aimed more at a pop audience. “It’s chill-out, easy listening … mood-type music for people to calm down and feel comforted, like being in a bubble, protected.”

His influences include Philip Glass, the American minimalist composer.

Beving’s success is more extraordinary because he had been turned down by the only record label he approached and had to pay to press 1,500 vinyl copies of Solipsism. “I wanted to make something tangible,” he said.

By day he used to work as an advertising manager for a company that provides music for commercials. He worked on his debut album in his kitchen at night, while his girlfriend and two young daughters were asleep.

Music has been a passion of Beving’s since childhood. The son of a schoolteacher, he formed his first band at the age of 14. He later won a place at a conservatoire, but repetitive strain injury to his wrist forced him to abandon his piano studies after a year. Instead, he studied public policy and administration. Now, 20 years on, the wrist has healed. He said: “If I don’t overdo the playing, it’s fine. The music I play is not technically advanced.”

He has now made enough money to quit his day job. “To be able to support my family and go to a studio and write music is an extreme luxury,” he said. “I wasn’t calculating on this and am truly grateful for technological developments opening up the music market and making it more democratic.”


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