Is iTunes’ Genius Getting Dumb Again?

About a year ago, I wrote about how iTunes’ Genius feature wasn’t offering suggestions for much of my music. There was obviously something out of kilter with Apple’s servers, because, a couple of weeks later, it started working again.

I’ve been seeing some problems with Genius again lately, though not quite the same. I often use Genius Shuffle to listen to music. To use this feature, press Option-Space (Alt-Space on Windows), and iTunes will pick a track at random, and create a Genius playlist from it. In the past few days, I’ve seen this dialog when I try to start Genius Shuffle:

Genius shuffle

I tried turning of Genius, and then turning it on again, forcing iTunes to recreate my Genius database, but I’m still seeing the same thing. I’m getting Genius suggestions for a lot of my music, but for some reason, iTunes won’t start Genius Shuffle. iTunes displays Genius suggestions for much of my non-classical music, but for most of my classical collection, it’s mute. And when it does offer Genius suggestions for classical music, they’re pretty far off the mark.

Genius suggestions

To not suggest other songs by Schubert for the above track – I have a few thousand of them – is surprising. And even some purchased tracks, in various genres, aren’t showing Genius suggestions.

Genius Shuffle used to work all the time, and would often dish up classical music. Now it seems to be ignoring about 90% of my classical collection.

What about other classical music fans? Are you seeing the same thing?

Update, February 20: It was clearly an issue on Apple’s end. I now can start the Genius Shuffle, and get Genius suggestions on a lot more music than when I wrote this post.

14 thoughts on “Is iTunes’ Genius Getting Dumb Again?

  1. Yes: perceiving strange behavior in Genius suggestions. I use Genius mostly in my iPhone; for some time there weren’t suggestions for well known songs (Dylan, R.Stones…), but now it’s working again, and pretty well…!
    I thought Genius connected some remote service to assign tags to songs first, and then it worked with no connection (like in my 1st gen. iPod Shuffle).
    Can somebody explain how Genius exactly works? Thanks

    • Genius gets information from Apple’s servers, then syncs this to your iOS device. If you don’t sync the device, I assume it gets the information directly on the device (but it doesn’t tell you, at any time, when it’s updating or getting information).

      I’m pretty sure this uses the same acoustic fingerprinting that iTunes Match uses to identify music. This means that the tags don’t need to be exactly the same as on the iTunes Store.

  2. Yes: perceiving strange behavior in Genius suggestions. I use Genius mostly in my iPhone; for some time there weren’t suggestions for well known songs (Dylan, R.Stones…), but now it’s working again, and pretty well…!
    I thought Genius connected some remote service to assign tags to songs first, and then it worked with no connection (like in my 1st gen. iPod Shuffle).
    Can somebody explain how Genius exactly works? Thanks

    • Genius gets information from Apple’s servers, then syncs this to your iOS device. If you don’t sync the device, I assume it gets the information directly on the device (but it doesn’t tell you, at any time, when it’s updating or getting information).

      I’m pretty sure this uses the same acoustic fingerprinting that iTunes Match uses to identify music. This means that the tags don’t need to be exactly the same as on the iTunes Store.

  3. I’ll just add that along with the syncing problems between iTunes 12 and the iOS devices that we’re all experiencing – I too have noticed problems with starting a genius playlist on the devices. Many popular songs that before have easily started one now say “TRY AGAIN” this song does not have enough associated songs to do a genius playlist. Just another problem that Apple seem to turn a blind eye to.

  4. I’ll just add that along with the syncing problems between iTunes 12 and the iOS devices that we’re all experiencing – I too have noticed problems with starting a genius playlist on the devices. Many popular songs that before have easily started one now say “TRY AGAIN” this song does not have enough associated songs to do a genius playlist. Just another problem that Apple seem to turn a blind eye to.

  5. Seems like it is dumber and dumber. My guess is that it is an attempt to lead me to apple radio. Sorry genius not working but a radio station works. Coincidence?

  6. Seems like it is dumber and dumber. My guess is that it is an attempt to lead me to apple radio. Sorry genius not working but a radio station works. Coincidence?

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