Can Apple Music Find Harmony with Classical Music Fans?

“The whole concept of streaming doesn’t fit with the way people listen to classical music,” says Kirk McElhearn, a technology writer and senior contributor to Macworld, in this week’s episode of Conducting Business.

The launch of the online streaming service Apple Music has raised hopes and reinforced some of the persistent complaints about Apple when it comes to delivering symphonies, concertos and operas to listeners’ computers and mobile devices.

In test runs, McElhearn found that Apple Music repeats a problem familiar to the tech company’s iTunes store: it serves up individual movements from pieces rather than grouping them together in sequence. So a listener’s encounter with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony might only involve the third movement, not the whole work in sequence.

Apple is touting its streaming service, which launched on June 30 in 100 countries, for not only its depth — with more than 30 million songs — but its hand-picked recommendations. Some of its “curated” playlists are chosen by the company’s editors — à la the old record store clerk. There is also a section called “for you,” based on music you’ve previously purchased or rated. McElhearn complains that when he first opened this section he was given a playlist called “Classical Music for Elevators.”

Listen to Conducting Business.

6 thoughts on “Can Apple Music Find Harmony with Classical Music Fans?

  1. You are absolutely right. Classical music has always been treated like a stepchild in iTunes and the iTunes Store. But I think the fact that mainstream music industry heavyweights like Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor are now in charge of Apple Music, has made the problem only worse.

    You got a playlist called “Classic Music for Elevators” when you first opened the “For You” section of Apple Music. Well, you were lucky… My “For You” section still doesn’t give me a single classical music recommendation, despite me having chosen only classical composers and artists when I set up the service. Clearly something is not right here.

    When you then look at the fact that Apple Music does not even list composers, any composers – for any genre, it makes you realize how narrow their view of music really is.

    I hope Apple will prove us wrong and do something to fix this, very soon. It shouldn’t be hard to do. It just takes a tiny bit of commitment and understanding. The number of worldwide classical music fans is larger than they think – especially in Asia. And isn’t that Apple’s most important market?

  2. You are absolutely right. Classical music has always been treated like a stepchild in iTunes and the iTunes Store. But I think the fact that mainstream music industry heavyweights like Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor are now in charge of Apple Music, has made the problem only worse.

    You got a playlist called “Classic Music for Elevators” when you first opened the “For You” section of Apple Music. Well, you were lucky… My “For You” section still doesn’t give me a single classical music recommendation, despite me having chosen only classical composers and artists when I set up the service. Clearly something is not right here.

    When you then look at the fact that Apple Music does not even list composers, any composers – for any genre, it makes you realize how narrow their view of music really is.

    I hope Apple will prove us wrong and do something to fix this, very soon. It shouldn’t be hard to do. It just takes a tiny bit of commitment and understanding. The number of worldwide classical music fans is larger than they think – especially in Asia. And isn’t that Apple’s most important market?

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