Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Classical Music on Apple Music

Mitchel Broussard:

Last August, Apple Music was updated with a new section in Browse curated by Deutsche Grammophon, one of the biggest classical music labels in the world. While classical music fans welcomed the specific focus of the area, many of our readers quickly pointed out the numerous issues that remain for classical listeners on a daily basis within Apple Music, and the fact that they've been there since the launch of the service with seemingly no correction in sight.


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This has been a long-standing problem:

- https://medium.com/@z_narf/why-apple-music-fails-with-classical-music-cdce5582a1a0
- http://www.benjaminacharles.com/blog/2018/10/24/streaming-music-services-are-failing-classical-audiences

Though I use spotify rather than apple music spotify has the same set of problems. I'm now paying 9.99 a month to use a streaming service called IDAGIO that is dedicated solely to classical music. It has a not perfect but much (much!) better approach to searching for classical music by various filter methods and has all the major labels. I hope it or something like it (there is a competitor called Primephonic) persists. Or that apple/spotify catch up.

Matthew Vaughan

While I agree with some of the problems, two of the worst ones are not the fault of the streaming platforms, but rather of the classical labels uploading the music.

It's always been possible to upload an entire symphony (sonata, quartet, act of an opera, etc.) as a single track. Nobody is forcing them to upload each movement separately. The streaming platforms just play whatever is uploaded.

It's also always been possible to enter the title along these lines: "Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 (Herbert von Karajan, conductor / Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra)", and the streaming platform would happily display it that way. Well it used to be anyway, until the classical labels and musicologists advising Spotify and Apple Music got those platforms to ban composer and artist names from track titles, a restriction that has now infected all the distributors you need to go through to get to Apple Music or Spotify (but only in the classical category), leading directly to the "who's the composer?" problem.

Both of these problems are of the making of the classical labels who upload the music, and have little to do with the streaming platforms the music is uploaded to.

For music you do have in your library, I do like putting the composer in a separate metadatum rather than the title. It is a cleaner approach, when it works. Both the macOS and iOS apps allow browsing by composer.

But for search or browsing in the streaming section, criteria seem far more limited and IMHO frankly rather confusing. Presumably, it's all in a queryable database, so just give us the same kind of complex search queries we can do locally, remotely.

Instead, if I search Bolero, then clarify I'm searching for a song, I'm presented with something that looks like a list but can't be sorted and filtered, doesn't have a Composer column (and apparently no way of adding one), and includes songs that have "Bolero" nowhere to be found in the shown columns. Why? Are there technical reasons this is a so much more limited view?

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