Classical Music on Apple Music: What’s Wrong and How Apple Can Fix It

Last August, Apple Music was updated with a new section in Browse curated by Deutsche Grammophon, one of the biggest classical music labels in the world. While classical music fans welcomed the specific focus of the area, many of our readers quickly pointed out the numerous issues that remain for classical listeners on a daily basis within Apple Music, and the fact that they've been there since the launch of the service with seemingly no correction in sight.


To help break down and highlight these problems, we reached out to a few experts in the classical music field, including professor Benjamin Charles, who wrote a blog post about his frustrations with streaming music services last October. We also spoke with Franz Rumiz, a classical music fan whose article "Why Apple Music fails with classical music" struck a chord with the community in early 2017.

Frustrations with classical music streaming are nothing new, but as Charles tells us, this is a problem that affects nearly every streaming music service, including Apple Music rival Spotify. In an effort to find out exactly what's wrong with classical music on Apple Music -- and what steps could be taken to address these problems -- we asked Charles and Rumiz to detail the biggest issues with classical music on Apple Music.

The Problems


Classical music is treated as a single genre


When you tap on "Genres" in Apple Music's Browse tab, you're treated with a list of over 30 styles of music, from Alternative and African Music to Christian, Electronic, K-Pop, and Metal. This is where classical music fans have to visit to find their favorite music, within the singular "Classical" genre section.


For Charles, this is the first in a long line of problems. The section spans centuries, including all of the notable composers like Mozart (born 1756, died 1791), Maurice Ravel (b. 1875, d. 1937), and John Cage (b. 1912, d. 1992), but this grouping is frustrating for classical music aficionados, given how little these musicians have in common among one another.
Charles: "...We’re treating around 300 years of music from various countries, forms, philosophies, and so on as one genre. As far as modern commercial music, we don’t group the past 50 years together: can you imagine how strange it would be to group LL Cool J, Metallica, and The Spice Girls together? These are all artists that were popular in the 90s; beyond that, they have virtually nothing in common. Grouping together Mozart, Ravel, and Cage makes even less sense."
Rumiz: "The sorting of recordings follows the rules of pop & rock genre. For classical music this doesn’t fit at all, because you very often want to compare different recordings of the same pieces by the same composer with different soloists, orchestras and conductors. It is very complicated and sometimes impossible to sort and find recordings by these categories."

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