Apple Music Doesn’t Get Classical Music Right

In all the articles I’ve written about Apple Music so far, I haven’t specifically looked at how this service handles classical music, something which is of great interest to me. So it’s time to look at whether you can use Apple Music to find and listen to classical music easily.

For starters, many parts of Apple Music are not designed for classical music. The whole playlist aspect of the service is clearly not ideal for this type of music, which doesn’t contain “songs,” but rather works, often of multiple movements. So the For You section of Apple Music, which offers playlists and albums to check out, won’t be of much help.

There are some useful playlists, however. For example, this morning, when I check For You, I see a playlist introducing the Emerson String Quartet.

Emerson playlist

I’m happy to find this kind of playlist that introduces me to an artist or performer. I can use it as a launchpad to their recordings. I like the Emerson String Quartet, and have many of their recordings, and I can perhaps find some that I’m not familiar with.

But a playlist like this is nothing more than a launchpad. I wouldn’t “listen” to it as a playlist, because this isn’t how you really listen to classical music.

Apple Music fails as far as presenting metadata about classical music. Looking at a number of albums in the New section, I find that many of them don’t display the names of the composers whose works they feature. Here is just one example, among many, which shows the problem.This is a recording of works by a number of different composers. There is no indication of whose music it is.


However, if I search the album in the iTunes Store, I can see the composers neatly listed in a Composer column.


You might expect that selecting a track in Apple Music and pressing Command-I to bring up the Info window would show such information; alas, it does not.


Since Apple clearly does have the composer information, as you can see in the iTunes Store screenshot, they should provide a way to present this on Apple Music.

Searching for a specific work and composer on the above album does find it, and I haven’t performed exhaustive searches of classical works to find what shows up in Apple Music; that wouldn’t prove anything, because not all the music on the iTunes Store is available for streaming.

I didn’t really expect Apple Music to be any better than this for classical music. The classical music listener is not Apple’s target demographic; the Beats 1 Radio listener is. You’ll find a lot of classical music on Apple Music, and, if you’re searching for a specific work by a given composer, there’s a good chance you’ll find one or more versions. But don’t expect Apple Music to give you the information you need to use this service efficiently to listen to classical music.