Friday, March 10, 2023

Music to No One’s Ears

Joe Rosensteel (member post):

Look, I’ve been hoping that at some point, the rocky transition from iTunes to the Music app would be over and we’d all look back on it and say, “Wow, I can’t believe that was so brief.” But it isn’t over. Here I am, in the year 2023, and I have the same problems using the app that I’ve had for about half a decade at this point. And yes, many of these problems are tied to changes made for the Apple Music service.

When launching the Music app on macOS, you always start off at the Listen Now section of the app. It doesn’t matter what I was previously listening to in the app—that information has been lost to the sands of time. I can’t resume playback of anything I was listening to on this device, or any other. Anything I was looking at in the interface is wiped away too. I can, instead, see the four things that Apple thinks I want immediate access to.


Surely, the section under it, Recently Played, is exactly what I want? No, I want what I was last listening to, where I was last listening to it, tied directly to the play button. Recently Played only provides the entire song, album, or playlist I was listening to from its start.

He also discusses how search doesn’t work as well as it used to and how it lost his star ratings.

Dan Moren:

In implementation, however, the macOS Music app is basically the former iTunes app with Apple Music’s streaming functionality bolted on. While being able to include both tracks from your personal library and Apple Music in one unified interface has its benefits, especially when it comes to ease of use, it can sometimes feel like Apple’s performing some clever legerdemain. For example, one of my biggest frustrations is discovering that a specific track from an album that I’ve added to my library is unavailable because of streaming rights. Why just a specific track? It’s almost always unclear—but it does put paid to the idea that music in your library is actually in your library.

That’s just one example of where this melding doesn’t always work; there are plenty of others, including matching an explicit version of a song to a clean version (or vice versa), ending up with split albums because of metadata problems, and just plain getting the wrong version of a song (live instead of studio, for example).


But there exists no similar [Handoff] functionality for music. If I pause a song I’m playing on my Mac and want to pick it up on my iPhone—an analog of which was performed in the very first ad for the iPod in 2001, I have to launch the Music app on my phone, find the track, and skip ahead to where it was on the Mac.


This has caused me no end of frustration, especially when I start listening to an album on my phone, AirPlay it to my HomePod mini, and then go back to my phone only to discover that it’s still on the same track it was when I first AirPlayed it.

Pierre Igot:

One of the many ways that Apple effectively punishes Mac users for not fully embracing the all-Apple approach to music (by using third-party tools to rip CDs, etc.) is the chronic failure of #iOS’s #Music app to provide reliably GAPLESS playback of ripped album tracks. Could they not use a bit of that “machine learning” magic to detect when there is no silence between tracks and make sure the playback has no annoying gaps/blips between them?

I just tried to open the MiniPlayer window in the Music app, and in response I got a modal alert asking me to join Apple Music.

Nick Heer:

Was wondering if Apple had fixed Music’s “Sync Library” feature. Nope. Still not enabling it.


Update (2023-03-14): evilerutis (via ednl):

[A] majority of songs came back. But a few hundred are just completely gone for good. The support person said “sometimes that happens” (?!?)

Adam Demasi:

I’ll take an occasional bad design decision (Spotify’s new TikTok-style homepage) over the death by a thousand cuts you’re made to endure to use Apple Music.

Update (2023-12-22): Adrian Schönig:

For over 17 years I’ve created many hand-curated playlists in my iTunes and then Apple Music library. Since Apple Music came around, many songs in those playlists randomly get marked as unavailable. I can find most of these songs and fix it up manually, but this is really not cool. 😞

Christina Warren:

Even in #macOSSonoma, Apple Music is such a shitshow as a Mac app that I won’t even open it and will instead go straight to Spotify as God intended. I have to subscribe to two different streaming services b/c they ruined iTunes so much that I can’t even listen to Apple Music on a Mac without wanting to throw things. Yet I prefer it on mobile. First world problems but damn

Update (2023-12-29): See also: Matt Sephton.


Update (2024-02-14): Steve Troughton-Smith:

The iTunes Store on macOS is in disrepair 😂 What is this font!

Update (2024-02-27): Jeff Johnson:

Just when you thought the Mac Music app couldn’t get any worse, it suddenly decided to start randomly turning off shuffle.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Declaring Apple Music bankruptcy; it has made me so unhappy with what’s left of the music library I spent 25 years curating that there’s just no way to fix it anymore. I’ve lost my algorithm-seeding play counts, hearts and stars many times over by now. cmd-A, delete 🫡

Update (2024-03-05): Matt Sephton:

Apple HIG says that enter will select the highlighted button (here the red one) and space will select the focused button (here the outlined one), but in Music app on Sonoma enter and space both select cancel! So to delete song you have to tab to the red button, or use the mouse.

Update (2024-05-03): Matt Sephton got a sweet error message.

Update (2024-06-04): Gianguido:

it’s 2024 and apple music on mac skips songs like it was a CD player

Via Miguel Arroz:

And this has been happening for years and nobody at Apple at the management level cares enough to get it fixed. An app called Music cannot play audio files reliably, in some cases the exact same audio files (not the same songs, the same files) that played just fine on PowerPC Macs and the first gen iPod.

Meanwhile, from the other company with music in its DNA:

Today, with the cost of creating content being close to zero[…]

Update (2024-06-07): Jim Dalrymple:

I mentioned that Apple Music keeps unfavorite my songs. It seems that if I have a song in a library but Apple chooses the same song from its library in a playlist, it won’t allow it to be favorited. Only way is to delete my song. I don’t want to delete songs.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

100 % agree. Apple Music feels unpolished in comparison to Spotify (I love their concept of a same music controllable from every device), but what made me finally move was looking for a good reccomendation engine.

I like exploring new music, Apple Music one is clearly tuned for a very conservative audience. No matter what new track I start the radio with, it goes back to one of 'safe' (previously liked) songs in just a handful of tracks. This makes exploring 'what are other great songs similar to this' quite hard.

Spotify is quite better in this aspect, but lately I tried moving to Youtube Music, and I think I will stay. It feels to me that they have used their experience with Youtube's recommendation system well.

Yup, completely agree. I especially hate the way that the functionality has been brutally butchered in order to fit the streaming approach, more-or-less exclusively, unless you are happy to simply opt out of all Apple Music offline functionality or just not subscribe at all and put up with the in-your-face promotions all the time. And even then it's just a very mediocre experience. Bring back iTunes. Seriously. It was clunky as all heck, but at least Apple Music was confined to a webview, where it should be!

And my Six Colors sub recently expired and I can't justify paying $60 for the member posts. I wish I could pay less just for those. Also, my member RSS feed won't let me review this story even though it was active at the time. But I know that I agreed at the time. Sigh.

Odd, I just launched the Music app on macOS Monterey and it went straight to the 'Songs' view, exactly where I left it. This view, with the column browser enabled, looks similar to iTunes back in the day.

I couldn't agree more with all these points. It's worse that just resting on their laurels. There definitely is some of that but the app just seems actively WORSE than iTunes was in so many ways. And in a market with, shockingly, real competition, I'd expect Apple to at least wake up to this and address these failures seriously. For an app I use daily (no interest in paying Joe Rogan's salary so I cancelled our Spotify subscription quite a while back), Music is really an enormous disappointment.

Leave a Comment