I’ve written about the problems using Apple Music to listen to classical music, and this box set highlights one of the most serious problems listening to classical music, which is often available in box sets, containing from a half-dozen to 100 CDs (this one has 81 discs).
This set includes 960 tracks, and, while you can see in the iTunes Store screenshot above that individual works are organized using iTunes’ Grouping tag (you can see the disclosure triangle next to Goldberg Variations, which is the name of the grouping for the 32 tracks that follow), there’s no such organization on Apple Music.
There is no use of the Grouping tag, so all you have is, as the iTunes Status bar shows, 960 “songs” and 2.4 days of music. You could listen to it all in order – and you might want to do that – but that’s certainly not the ideal way to discover Gould’s recordings.
The iTunes Store uses the Grouping tag which is an excellent way to approach such a large set. However, it’s not the best way. If you buy the set, you’ll also have disc numbers, which allow you to separate each album as it was issued, but that will take a bit of work. With Apple Music, you have neither work nor disc separations.
However, this set displays in yet a third way if you add it to your My Music library in iTunes (but not on an iOS device). When you view it in your iTunes library, you can see each disc clearly marked:
This is much better than trying to play it from the New section of Apple Music. But if you want to play it on an iOS device, you’ll see this:
Isn’t it tempting to just tap the Shuffle button?
It’s great that a set like this is available digitally, both for download (it’s a lot easier than ripping 81 CDs), and for streaming. However, both Apple and other streaming services need to think of a better way to offer these sets for streaming.
Of course, if you do want to buy the set – and I’d recommend it to any classical music listener; Gould’s output is among the best on record, especially his Bach – but it on CD. It’s only $200 for the set, which includes a fancy book (Amazon.com, Amazon UK). (It’s out next week in the UK, and in October in the US.)