The CRM with Apple Fans in Mind

Posts tagged with "Apple Music"

Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Record Label Pages

Ethan Millman, writing for Rolling Stone, reports that Apple has added around 400 music label pages to Apple Music. Label pages began showing up in Music late in April with the release of iOS and iPadOS 14.5 as Federico covered in in his overview. However, with the introduction of Spatial Audio and lossless streaming, Millman had a chance to talk to Zane Lowe, Apple Music’s co-head of Artist Relations and radio host, about why the company is emphasizing record labels.

According to Lowe:

“We want to highlight labels that are really hyper-focused on building great quality. The labels we’re partnering with here are the ones where I want to search for their logo on the back of the record and would buy music unheard because I trust that,” Lowe says. “That to me is really the culture that we’re trying to represent from a label point of view here. In a way, this is an opportunity for us to reestablish the concept of a label as something more than just a bank. To look at the label system again as more than just a distribution model or an investment model, but actually as a place where music, art and culture is fostered in a really deliberate and very thoughtful way.”

Listener affinity for record labels is just one aspect of music that has largely fallen by the wayside in the streaming era. It will be interesting to see if Apple Music can rekindle interest in labels as an indicator of quality and curation. There’s more Apple could do to expand music credits, but it’s good to see the company take a step in this direction with labels.

You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2021 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2021 RSS feed.


Eddy Cue On Why Spatial Audio Is a Game-Changer

Billboard’s Micah Singleton interviewed Apple executive Eddy Cue about this week’s update to Apple Music, which added Spatial Audio, a surround sound technology based on Dolby Atmos, and lossless streaming. In the interview, Cue explains why Apple is enthusiastic about Spatial Audio and emphasizing it more than lossless streaming:

…when you listen for the first time and you see what’s possible with Dolby Atmos with music, it’s a true game-changer. And so, when we listened to it for the first time, we realized this is a big, big deal. It makes you feel like you’re onstage, standing right next to the singer, it makes you feel like you might be to the left of the drummer, to the right of the guitarist. It creates this experience that, almost in some ways, you’ve never really had, unless you’re lucky enough to be really close to somebody playing music.

Although the number of Spatial Audio tracks numbers in the thousands compared to Apple Music’s catalog of 75 million songs, Cue expects it to gain momentum over time. To that end, Cue explains that Apple is evangelizing Spatial Audio:

So we went after the labels and are going to the artists and educating them on it. There’s a lot of work to be done because we have, obviously, tens of millions of songs. This is not a simple “take-the-file that you have in stereo, processes through this software application and out comes Dolby Atmos.” This requires somebody who’s a sound engineer, and the artist to sit back and listen, and really make the right calls and what the right things to do are. It’s a process that takes time, but it’s worth it.

I’ve had the chance to try both Spatial Audio on AirPods Pro and AirPods Max and lossless streaming over my home stereo system. Lossless sounds excellent on my dedicated surround-sound system, but I think Apple is taking the right approach by emphasizing Spatial Audio over lossless. As good as lossless streaming sounds, the difference is small by comparison to Spatial Audio. Also, lossless is anchored to my living room, whereas I can enjoy Spatial Audio anywhere.

I was an early adopter of DVD-Audio and SACD, which also offer a surround-sound music experience, but neither format really caught on. I think Spatial Audio could be different, though. First of all, the format isn’t an add-on cost to an Apple Music subscription. When you couple that with the popularity of Apple’s products and the competitiveness of the music streaming industry, I think the format has a fighting chance at gaining a foothold where others have stumbled.

You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2021 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2021 RSS feed.


Apple Begins Streaming Spatial Audio and Lossless Tracks on Apple Music

Yesterday, not long after Apple’s opening WWDC keynote, the company activated Spatial Audio and lossless playback for Apple Music. The company followed up with a press release in which Zane Lowe, Apple Music’s co-head of Artist Relations and radio host, explains the new feature and how he feels Spatial Audio will affect music.

First announced last month, spatial audio is a new audio feature that will initially be available on a couple of thousands of Apple Music tracks, providing a surround sound experience for music fans. The technology is based on Dolby Atmos, which is also used by Amazon Music and Tidal.

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Apple Support Document Clarifies Lossless Streaming Details

In June, Apple Music will offer the option of streaming in CD-quality and high-resolution lossless formats. There was initial confusion about which Apple devices will support lossless streaming, but the company has clarified things with a support document.

The new support document confirms what was announced earlier this week. Lossless is supported by iPhones, iPads, and Macs using their built-in speakers and wired headphones, receivers, and powered speakers. Lossless audio will stream to AirPods, AirPods Max, and Beats wireless headphones, but it won’t be lossless because they rely on Bluetooth, which is inherently lossy.

Regarding the Lightning to 3.5 mm cable for the AirPods Max, Apple’s support document says:

The Lightning to 3.5 mm Audio Cable was designed to allow AirPods Max to connect to analog sources for listening to movies and music. AirPods Max can be connected to devices playing Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless recordings with exceptional audio quality. However, given the analog to digital conversion in the cable, the playback will not be completely lossless.

It’s also worth noting that Apple’s Lightning to 3.5mm adapter that can be used to connect wired headphones to devices only supports up to 24-bit/48 kHz lossless audio. A digital-to-analog converter is necessary for 24-bit/192 kHz playback.

Apple says HomePods and HomePod minis will be updated and an unspecified date in the future to support lossless playback, but they don’t currently support it.

It wasn’t clear initially which Apple TVs will support lossless streaming. Apple’s support document suggests that it’s only the Apple TV 4K, connected to a receiver via HDMI, leaving Apple TV HD owners out of luck. Moreover, the Apple TV 4K only supports lossless playback at 24-bit/48 kHz. However, the wording of the support document leaves the possibility that a future update may make Hi-Res Lossless available.

Finally, only Apple Music content supports lossless streaming. iTunes Store content and Apple Music’s broadcast radio, Apple Music 1, other live radio content, and music videos will not stream losslessly.

AirPods and HomePods Will Not Support Apple Music’s New Lossless Audio

When Apple announced that Spatial Audio and Lossless Audio are coming to Apple Music, it wasn’t entirely clear from the press release whether Lossless Audio would work with AirPods or HomePods. Since then, Apple has confirmed to T3 that AirPods Pro and AirPods Max do not support Lossless Audio. In a statement to Chris Welch of The Verge, Apple definitively said:

“Lossless audio is not supported on AirPods, any model,” an Apple spokesperson said by email.

AirPods support Spatial Audio, but if you want to listen to Lossless Audio, you’ll need wired headphones, an Apple TV, or a Mac connected to good speakers.

If you were thinking you might be able to get around the wireless limitations of Lossless Audio with a Lightning cable connected to your AirPods Max, you’re out of luck there too, according to Billboard’s Micah Singleton who raised the question with Apple. The Verge’s story confirms what Singleton was told too.

In addition, MacRumors reports it has confirmed from an unnamed source that the original HomePod and HomePod mini do not work with Lossless Audio either.

Apple Announces Spatial Audio and Lossless Playback for Apple Music Subscribers Coming in June

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, Apple announced that beginning in June, it will offer Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos to its Apple Music collection. The company also announced that it is bringing Lossless Audio to the entire Music catalog. Both features are being added to Apple Music at no additional cost to subscribers.

According to Apple’s press release:

“Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible. Now we are bringing this truly innovative and immersive experience to our listeners with music from their favorite artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and so many more. Subscribers will also be able to listen to their music in the highest audio quality with Lossless Audio. Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever.”

Spatial Audio will be the default playback option for AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, including AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, BeatsX, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3, Powerbeats3 Wireless, Beats Flex, Powerbeats Pro, and Beats Solo Pro. The feature will be available with other headphones, too, by going to Settings → Music → Audio and setting Dolby Atmos to ‘Always On.’ The playback feature is also supported by the latest models of iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TVs. At launch, Apple says there will be thousands of tracks available with Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos support and that new ones will be added continuously. Music that supports the feature will be badged in the Music app so subscribers can find it more easily.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

In addition to Spatial Audio, Apple is offering lossless audio versions of the entire Apple Music catalog beginning in June, which Apple confirmed to The Verge, is an Apple Music exclusive. In other words, you won’t be able to purchase lossless versions of music from the iTunes Store. The 75 million songs in the catalog will use the ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) format and start with CD-quality 16-bit audio at 44.1 kHz and go up to 24 bit at 48 kHz. Apple will also offer Hi-Resolution Lossless up to 24 bit at 192 kHz, for which subscribers will need an external USB DAC. Lossless playback is also opt-in due to the large file sizes involved. After iOS, iPadOS 14.6, macOS 11.4, and tvOS 14.6 are released, you’ll go to Settings → Music → Audio Quality to pick between Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless. From the details released today, it is not clear whether AirPods and Beats wireless headphones will support Apple’s lossless formats.

As someone who owns good quality headphones, I’m glad to see Apple adding lossless options to Apple Music. Spatial Audio is intriguing too. It remains to be seen how widely adopted it will be, but I’ve enjoyed it with video via the TV app, so I’m eager to try it with Apple Music too.

Hands-On With Apple Music’s New Collections of Chart-Toppers in Cities Around the World

In the aftermath of the release of iOS and iPadOS 14.5 and other OS updates yesterday, Apple updated the Browse tab of the Music app with a collection of Apple Music playlists called ‘Chart-Toppers in Cities Around the World’ that are available on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS. The playlists collect the top 25 songs in 103 cities around the globe.

The new collections occupy a row just below the featured content at the top of Music’s Browse tab. To access all 103 playlists on iOS, tap ‘See All.’ The twelve playlists that I see in my US-based account are US cities presented in no discernible order. After that, cities are listed alphabetically.

Browsing through playlists, I’ve occasionally come across a grayed-out song that isn’t available in the US, but that’s been very rare. It’s been fun browsing through playlists to see what’s popular here in the Chicago area compared to other cities in the US and elsewhere. My music tastes aren’t very well aligned with the top 25 lists, but I’m glad the playlists have been added. The collections are a fascinating peek into pop culture worldwide and an easy way to listen to what’s popular with other Apple Music subscribers.

Apple Music Editorial Content Is Coming to Apple News

Yesterday as Federico was putting the finishing touches on an in-depth review of iOS and iPadOS 14.5 that we will publish next week, he discovered something interesting: Apple Music is in the process of establishing a presence on Apple News. The content added to Apple News so far is limited, but it appears that the company is in the process of enhancing both services by connecting them in a way that is reminiscent of the way it brought Apple News to the Stocks app with iOS 12, but so far, also different.

A Music and News integration has been on Federico’s wish list ever since iOS 12. As he imagined in his iOS 12 review:

Using Apple News as a content provider for Stocks is fascinating as it could be applied to a variety of other Apple services in the future. Imagine, for instance, if Music news became part of the Music app and if you could read interviews and album reviews on an artist’s page.

It’s an idea that he returned to in 2019:

and that we have discussed repeatedly on AppStories.

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