Apple Music

Apple Music

Apple Music’s U.S. Subscriber Count Overtakes Spotify

Reuters is reporting that Apple Music has surpassed Spotify in paid monthly U.S. subscribers:

Apple Inc’s streaming music service overtook rival Spotify Technology SA in terms of paid subscribers in the United States, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

Apple’s service had 28 million subscribers as of the end of February compared with Spotify’s 26 million paid subscribers, the person said.

Zane Lowe on Why Apple Music Is ‘In the Storytelling Business’

Zane Lowe sat down with Music Business Worldwide to talk about Apple Music and various other topics:

Well the artist, first and foremost, has to create an environment which offers a 360 degree creative experience for fans before we even think about how to collaborate with that [and] help them build their story.

An artist like Billie Eilish thinks in sounds, she thinks in colors, she thinks in visuals, she thinks in collaborations, she thinks in all kinds of different forms of creativity. When you’re dealing with an artist like that, it opens all these other areas that you can help build things around.

Spotify Files Complaint With European Commission Against Apple

Spotify has filed an anti-trust complaint with EU regulators against Apple:

Spotify is filing a complaint against Apple with the European Commission, accusing the latter company of anticompetitive behaviour in the way it manages its App Store, and thus gives its own Apple Music streaming service an advantage over rivals.

I found this thread on Twitter did a pretty good job summing up my thoughts:

We’re not debating anything that that has anything to do with what’s good in the long run for customers.

We’re fighting over who gets to have a larger monopoly on fucking artists.

I think Apple has long had anti-competitive behavior in the app store, specifically in regard to rent seeking, and Spotify has its own issues that I think are anti-artist.

Apple Music Commissions New Playlist Art

Apple Music is commissioning new custom playlist artwork:

The artwork is meant to “connect more directly with the communities and the culture for which they were intended,” says Rachel Newman, Apple’s global director of editorial. Before now, Apple’s playlists had a uniform presentation that didn’t necessarily speak to the music. “In many ways, it’s a visual representation of the music that you will find inside that playlist,” said Newman. That includes Hip Hop Hits, Dale Reggaetón, and The Riff, which are all immensely popular.

Soor: A Third-Party Apple Music Client for iPhone

Federico Viticci, writing at MacStories:

With the exception of For You (more on this below), all these sections can be turned off in the app’s settings and rearranged so that, for instance, your playlists and recently played albums are at the top of the screen, with Apple Music sections following down in the middle. Soor’s key proposition is this drastic departure from the organization of the Music app: rather than splitting the Library and For You into two separate tabs, Soor lets you mix and match both types of content in the same screen, enabling you to choose the order they’re displayed for faster access.

This looks like something I’ll need to check out this weekend.

Classical Music on Apple Music: What’s Wrong and How Apple Can Fix It

MacStories:

“…We’re treating around 300 years of music from various countries, forms, philosophies, and so on as one genre. As far as modern commercial music, we don’t group the past 50 years together: can you imagine how strange it would be to group LL Cool J, Metallica, and The Spice Girls together? These are all artists that were popular in the 90s; beyond that, they have virtually nothing in common. Grouping together Mozart, Ravel, and Cage makes even less sense.”

A lot of really great points here.

Apple Music Wrapped: A Shortcut to Visualize Your Most Listened Songs, Artists, and Genres of the Year

Federico Viticci, over at MacStories, has put together one of the most incredible Shortcuts I’ve ever seen:

When Spotify was my music streaming service of choice, one of the features I really liked was its personalized Wrapped report generated at the end of the year. I’ve always been a fan of geeky annual reports and stats about the usage of any given web service – be it Spotify, Pocket, or Toggl. I appreciate a detailed look at 12 months of collected data to gain some insight into my habits and patterns. […]

But Apple doesn’t seem interested in adding this feature to Apple Music, so I decided to build my own using Shortcuts. The result is the most complex shortcut I’ve ever created comprising over 540 actions. It’s not perfect due to the limitations of iOS and Shortcuts, but it’s the closest I was able to come to replicating Spotify’s excellent Wrapped feature.

As anyone that’s played around with the Shortcut app will tell you, this is extremely impressive. I highly recommend reading the entire post from Viticci to see how he built it and what the limitations are. I ran it to analyze my top 200 songs and was surprised to learn I listened to Tonight Alive a lot more than I remembered. You can find my full report here, if you’re curious.

Grab the Shortcut here.

Apple Music Comes to the Amazon Echo

Apple Music is now available on the Amazon Echo:

To set up Apple Music on the Echo, open the Alexa iOS app and go to the Music section of the app’s Settings. You won’t see Apple Music listed as an existing service, so tap the ‘Link New Service’ button, which will list Apple Music along with several other services.

Once you’ve logged in with your Apple Music credentials, the Apple Music Skill is enabled, which allows you to say things like ‘Alexa, play my New Music Mix on Apple Music.’ You can separately set Apple Music as your default music service, which lets you use Alexa to request music without specifying ‘on Apple Music.’

I’ve been playing with it all weekend and it works great. It doesn’t (currently) have access to your entire iCloud Music Library, so things in your personal collection aren’t available, but the millions of songs on Apple Music are all available, as are your custom playlists.

Apple Music Removing “Connect”

Zac Hall, writing for 9to5Mac:

Apple has started notifying Apple Music artists that it is removing the ability for artists to post content to Apple Music Connect, and previously posted Apple Music Connect content is being removed from the For You section and Artist Pages in Apple Music. Connect content will still be viewable through search results on Apple Music, but Apple is removing artist-submitted Connect posts from search in May.

I miss Rdio and I miss their “heavy rotation” feed. That was the right way to integration social features into a music streaming service.

Apple Music for Business (Restaurants, Bars, Stores, etc.)

Patently Apple:

There’s a common misunderstanding among business owners that songwriters are only compensated by the purchase of their CDs, so that a business owner can freely play copyrighted music for customers. Not so, and Apple’s new trademark filing for ‘Apple Music for Business’ indicates that Apple will be entering this new business avenue for Apple music in the future as the company seeks to expand their services businesses.

Interesting.

Visualize Your Apple Music History

Chance Miller, writing at 9to5Mac:

Murray’s tool shows your most listened to song on Apple Music since Apple Music launched in 2015, as well as the songs you listened to most each year. You can also see the total amount of time you’ve spent listening to Apple Music, the day you spent the most time playing music, and much more. Privacy is of course a concern here, but Murray promises that no data ever leaves your computer and all computation is done in the browser.

These are the kinds of things Apple Music should build into the product. At the end of the year I always create a bunch of Smart Playlists to give me information like this, but having it all in one place, and updated automatically, would be so much better.

Apple Music Coming to Amazon Echo on December 17th

Amazon:

Apple Music subscribers will be able to enjoy Apple Music’s 50 million songs on Echo devices. Customers will be able to ask Alexa to play their favorite songs, artists, and albums — or any of the playlists made by Apple Music’s editors from around the world, covering many activities and moods. […] Simply enable the Apple Music skill in the Alexa app and link your account to start listening.

I’m more excited about this than I thought I’d be.

Genius Teams Up With Apple Music

Genius will be providing lyrics to Apple Music:

Genius has the world’s best lyrics database and now it’s available on Apple Music. Genius will provide lyrics to thousands of hit songs on the service—bringing world-class accuracy and timeliness powered by Genius’s global community of artists and fans.

Apple Music Gains Better Album Organization

Federico Viticci, writing for MacStories:

While the old artist page design of Apple Music mixed albums, singles, EPs, live albums, and more under the same ‘Albums’ section, the new Apple Music features separate sections for different types of music releases. The new sections include singles and EPs, live albums, essential albums recommended by Apple Music editors, compilations, and appearances by an artist on other albums. As pictured above, Apple Music now also highlights an artist’s latest or upcoming release at the top of the page.

Much better.

Apple Music to Publish Its Own Top Music Charts

Rolling Stone:

Apple Music, in a software update Friday to all users, is rolling out 116 “top 100” numeric charts, which will display the top-streamed songs on Apple Music refreshed on a regular basis. In a demo to Rolling Stone, Apple Music executives showed how the charts — one global chart and a top 100 chart for every country in which Apple Music is available — are grouped together under the platform’s “Browse” tab and have a similar visual appearance to that of playlists or albums. Each chart is updated daily at 12 a.m. PST.

The global chart can be found here.

Apple Music Launches “Friends Mix”

Apple Music has launched a new “Friends Mix” that will give you a list of 25 songs each week based on the listening habits of people you follow on the service. You can find this in the “For You” section of Apple Music. My “Friends Mix” looks basically exactly like you’d expect.

If you want my spins showing up in your mix, feel free to follow me here. It’s been a lot of punk music lately.

Apple Music Rolling Out Update With ‘Coming Soon’ Section

Mitchel Broussard, writing at MacRumors:

Apple appears to be rolling out a series of updates for Apple Music today, including a small but useful new section called “Coming Soon,” which allows subscribers to check out new albums about to be released over the next few weeks. […] In another addition, Apple is now making it possible to easily see album launch dates on their respective pages on iOS and macOS. In the Editors’ Notes section, following the traditional encouragement to add the pre-release album to your library, there’s a new line that begins “Album expected…” followed by the album’s specific release date.

Some nice updates, but what I really want is one feed/section that simply gives me a chronological listing of newly released albums from people already in my collection. On Friday morning I should be able to look one place and see all the new albums from people Apple Music already knows I like and listen to. I’m cool with a smaller scattering of recommendations for new music I may like under that main list as well, but finding the newly released albums from artists I already love should be easy. Half the time I’ll forget I pre-added an album that’s out today and this kind of reminder would be great. Hell, so many of my friends don’t even know their favorite band released new music over the past five years. This is a solvable problem.

Update: I was just looking around in the new Apple Music, and I don’t know if this is new or not, but if you go to the “For You” section and scroll to the very bottom, there’s a “New Releases” section. Clicking “See All” seems pretty close to what I’m talking about. However, it’s definitely missing things from artists in my collection with new albums. For example, that Lykke Li album released today isn’t in my listing even though all of her albums are in my library.

Apple Music and Pandora No Longer Promoting R. Kelly

Apple Music and Pandora have also stopped promoting R. Kelly on their platforms:

Now, a source close to the matter tells Pitchfork that Apple Music also begun to stop promoting R. Kelly in featured playlists over the past several weeks. The decision was made quietly, and it pre-dates Spotify’s announcement. Kelly’s music has been pulled from Apple Music-curated playlists such as “Best Slow Jams of the 90s, Vol. 1” and Vol. 2. (Kelly is prominently featured in the artwork for the playlists, but his music is no longer in them.)

I want a “block artist” button on Apple Music (and Spotify). Something that I can click to keep an artist from ever showing up at all, anywhere, on the platform. Maybe even granular control so you could check one box to just block that artist everywhere, and another if you still want their “features” to appear in the tracklists for albums you listen to.

I also think that these services should start looking into informing listeners on artist pages about things that someone may want to know before listening to an artist. These pages already have biographies on them, why not include the facts about abuse allegations as well?