Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Apple Acquires Primephonic

Juli Clover (Hacker News):

Apple today announced that it has acquired classical music streaming service Primephonic, and will be folding it into Apple Music.

Primephonic offers an “outstanding listening experience” with search and browse functionality optimized for classical audio, plus handpicked recommendations and “contextual details on repertoire and recordings.”

Andy Ihnatko:

I’m very pleased and optimistic about Apple’s acquisition of Primephonic. Classical music is idiosyncratic and absolutely requires a bespoke streaming experience. Apple acquires the whole catalog and promises a custom app and experience for classical.

Mainstream platforms are usually disappointing. “We’ve loads of opera…we’ve got ‘Nessun Dorma’ by the Three Tenors and that little girl from ‘America’s Got Talent’! Here’s some 70s soft-rock that our algorithm thinks people who search for opera would rather listen to…”

Well, maybe not that bad. But many of the greats record for labels that don’t have streaming distribution, or aren’t even given a chance to record at all. And much of the best stuff ever recorded is locked up on an opera company’s servers with no plans for distribution.

So it’s a big opportunity for Apple to seriously move the needle. Not just to provide better search and playback tools (which are sorely needed) but to do things like help change a legendary 2009 performance from a thing that fans have heard about to a thing that fans can hear.


Update (2021-09-07): Kirk McElhearn:

Apple’s Primephonic acquisition is interesting. The company was a very small player in the streaming market, but with only classical music. Apple making a separate app for classical music is some I would never have expected. I’ve been critical of classical support in iTunes and Music for as long as as I’ve been writing about digital music. While Apple made small improvements over the years, they never got remotely close to providing what classical listeners want. This is very good news.

Update (2021-10-20): John Gruber:

What I find interesting is Apple is going to use this acquisition to launch a dedicated classical music app, not to expand the Music app. iTunes, infamously, expanded greatly over the years, and everyone seems to agree that the user experience suffered for it. I wonder if that’s in the back of Apple’s mind here.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

Apple should fix the problems with the Apple Music service as a whole before going off on a tangent to focus specifically on classical music. Six years into the service it's still not any better (and in many ways worse) than Spotify.

Beatrix Willius

Why doesn't Apple fix first the truly fucked up interface in Music? I had a 6 month trial of Music. I can't say how often I cursed at the so very awful interface. I didn't even complete the trial.

My wife is pissed about this. She was a Primephonic subscriber and also gave subscriptions to others. Its app was great for comparing different recordings of the same piece, and finding new pieces. She's not paying exorbitant sums to move to Apple and get locked in to that ecosystem though.

I had another "how is the Music app for Mac so bad?" moment yesterday. Sigh.

I'm happy they're catering to this niche in an optimized way, but they do have other problems.

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