Manuel Riess recently wrote a bit about returning from Apple Music to Spotify. His dissatisfaction centers around music discovery, hearing new material from artists that the system already should know he likes and the New Music playlist.
I have had some of the same frustrations. The New Music playlist, which is updated every Friday, used to be something to which I looked forward, at the end of the week. Lately, though, it almost seems like artists (or labels) have been paying to have their music featured on the lists of listeners. How else could you explain Apple Music putting Mariah Carey in the pole position on one of my playlists? There are a few such examples of deep pocket artists showing up on my lists for no discernible reason. Ever since this started occurring, I can’t trust much of the content on the list. If it’s not by a band with which I’m already familiar, I’m reticent to spend my time checking it out.
With the New Music playlist, Apple should definitely be showing me new tunes by bands that I listen to a lot. That would be low hanging fruit, an easy thing for them to accomplish with the data they have on my listening habits. Instead, I’m not guaranteed to see new releases by my favorite bands. The service just simply doesn’t do a good job of discovery in that space.
Federico Viticci had a recent piece in Macstories pondering some of the same issues with music discovery in the Apple Music service.
The ‘New Music Mix’ playlist is not terrible, but it often comes loaded with stale data – songs I’ve already listened to multiple times and which shouldn’t qualify as “new” weeks after their original release date. Furthermore, I’ve found notifications for new releases for artists in my library unreliable at best: I occasionally get notifications for new albums, but never for new singles or EPs.
Ticci’s solution is Music Harbor, an app that keeps you up-to-date with new releases by artists you like. His assessment, as well as the reviews of the app, make it look very promising. However, I just can’t get past the fact that I would need a separate app to do the things Apple Music should be able to do with my existing data.