Apple tunes a better music streamer

What gives Apple Music Classical a glimpse into the future is how it wrangles “metadata”

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The Future. The Apple Classical Music app may have flown under the radar for most people, but its creation is one of the greatest feats of data collection and categorization in streaming. While every major streaming service is geared toward helping users find artists, Apple Classical Music focuses on the compositions… and the endless recordings made of them. Its success may make the wrangling of metadata one of the important curation jobs of the digital age.

Organizing the orchestra
Apple Music Classical is one of the most sophisticated streaming services to ever hit the market.

  • It features over 20,000 composers, 115,000 works, and five million tracks — giving users thousands of ways to experience recordings of compositions by, say, Bach or Mozart.
  • Many of the songs are also available in high-resolution lossless and spatial audio, so it sounds like you’re actually listening to the pieces in a concert hall.

For further curation, Apple editors surfaced the most popular recordings, and there are unique repertoire recommendations from classical specialists.

Classical code
What gives Apple Music Classical a glimpse into the future is how it wrangles “metadata” — the little bits of information that make music on streaming services actually searchable and discoverable. 

While a typical artist like Taylor Swift only needs to be categorized by “title, album, and artist,” a piece of classical music by Brahms can be broken down into “the name of the work, composer and artist, but also the nickname, movement, key, opus number, orchestra, soloist and conductor,” according to Jane Gottlieb, Juilliard’s VP for library and information resources.

We don’t even want to know what that Excel spreadsheet looks like.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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