Sunday, April 1, 2018

Why Doesn’t Apple Music Let Users Search for Composers?

Kirk McElhearn:

You see some composers listed as “artists,” you see their names in the titles of albums (for a number of years, many if not most classical albums that feature music from a single composer have that composer’s name at the beginning of the title), you may see playlists with a composer’s music, you even see “songs,” but you cannot see all the music by a composer.


This lack of searchability borders on contempt. Apple Music wants you to be able to “discover” music, but they don’t give you the tools to search for anything. You can only really discover music in the For You section, or in playlists. And it’s not just for classical music; I’d like to have better search for jazz as well, looking for specific musicians.

Apple has the metadata; they just don’t let customers access it.

This sort of thing is why it annoys me whenever Apple talks about music being in its DNA.

Fred Showker:

Go to Google advanced search, and search for Composer in the phrase field, and put in the ‘at site’ field.

Update (2018-04-02): Nick Heer:

Even something as basic as the year of release cannot be searched even amongst local tracks on iOS, and I find that completely absurd. I would love nothing more than to see a modernized version of the column browser better tailored for Apple Music’s vast library.

Update (2018-04-12): Nick Heer:

After I linked to Kirk McElhearn’s piece about Apple Music’s limited search capabilities, Erin “Syd” Sidney pointed me to a three-year-old post he wrote about the lack of detailed creator information available on the platform[…]

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

Jeff Tyrrill

Movie soundtracks as well. The entire score on the album could be by a famous composer, but if one track is some unrelated pop song, that causes the entire album to now be filed under the dreaded "Various Artists". That more than "borders on contempt".

Album search results for movie composers are jam-packed with compulsory license dreck (somebody plays a home piano tune of the movie theme song, hoping for a few careless purchases from people searching for the official soundtrack).

This affects some other services as well. It's not just Apple.

The problem with the Google search is that it's not easily scannable. You'll get ten or twenty results to a page - depending on your settings - and have to load page after page, whereas in iTunes you would potentially be able to load a page with dozens of albums. Also, the Google serach won't just return works by the composer, but any pages with the composer's name, including the iTunes Store "Listeners Also Played" section at the bottom (since iTunes web serarches default to Apple Music pages). So it's not a useful solution.

"This sort of thing is why it annoys me whenever Apple talks about music being in its DNA."

I always get the feeling that when Apple says "music," they mean the kind of music that all the cool kids like for five minutes as they bounce through their day and then forget about forever. Besides, everyone knows that custom search fields and controls aren't "elegant," so they must be banished from all Apple interfaces. Much better to let let some algorithm at the mothership tell you what you like, instead, anyway.

Agreed. iTunes' support for classical music is pathetic, even on stuff stored locally in your library.

For this reason, all of my classical content has the composer's name in the Artist field. I store the performer (e.g. which orchestra) as a parenthetical extension to the album title. This works, but it's not really right.

And as Jeff wrote, soundtracks are also bad. For movies where the soundtrack really is a collection from various artists (e.g. the Baby Driver soundtrack), then sure, I'll check the "Compilation" flag, making them sort with Various - that's what it's for. But for soundtracks that are composed by a single person or team (e.g. Broadway scores or movies like Star Wars) then I'm back to putting the composer in the Artist field in order to make searches at least somewhat meaningful. The default (it seems) from CDDB, where the artist for each track is the particular singer of the track (very common for Broadway soundtracks) just makes a mess of everything, even if you set "Album Artists" to something applicable to all the tracks.

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