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Listening to classical music on Apple Music

Kirk McElhearn | Aug. 17, 2015
Classical music fans like me are living in a golden age. More recordings are available than ever, and it's much easier to buy CDs and downloads than in the past.

The peril of playlists

One of Apple Music's unique selling points is "human-curated" playlists. While this works well for pop, rock, and even jazz, it's not suited for classical music. You can find these playlists by going to the New section of Apple Music, scrolling down, and clicking Apple Editors Playlists. Click the Classical button to see the types of playlists available.

Some of the classical playlists offer introductions to performers or composers; these are a good way to hear some different types of music that you can later search for. But others aren't very useful. With titles such as Classical Music for Driving, or Classical Music for Elevators, they don't inspire much "discovery."

Unfortunately, the way Apple Music displays playlists is problematic. Many of them don't display the names of composers, and those that do put the composer after the often very long name of the artist. (And sometimes the artist information is spotty at best.) So if you do hear some music you like, click the More button then Go to Album to see the composer and performer(s).

Who's who?

It's one thing to not see the names of performers or composers and playlists, but this problem also exists on album pages. You often see no composers, or truncated lists of artists. Here's one example:

If you're on an iOS device, you can tap the More button (...) to go to the iTunes Store, but curiously, if you're in iTunes, there's no such option. This is a shame; I really don't want to listen to an album of recordings and guess who the composers are. I hope Apple can provide better metadata in Apple Music in the future; after all, they have this metadata in the iTunes Store.

There's lots of great classical music on Apple Music, but the way the service is set up is not ideal for this type of music. Composer and artist names are essential, and you may need to work hard to find what you want, or to find who's playing the music you hear.


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