Apple Music is getting much better

I use Apple Music every single day, so I see all of the good and bad parts of the service. I also get to see the significant improvements Apple has made over time, and while there is still work to be done, the service is getting much better.

I mentioned in February 2016 that Apple’s built-in radio stations were effectively changing the way I listen to music. To a large extent that continues to be the case. Most of the time I will play one of the service’s pre-built stations instead of listening to music in my library.

Hard Rock has been among my favorite stations to listen to because it gives me a nice mix of songs I already know with some new songs. The key to the success of this station for me was the mix—I didn’t want all new songs, but rather I way to deliver the discovery of new music with the familiarity of songs I had heard before. It does this perfectly.

Surprisingly, it was the stations that I knew the music the most that I really didn’t like—Classic Rock and Hair Metal and perfect examples of this. These are the genres I grew up with, so I should basically know every song that was played on those stations. I didn’t.

For a while, those “classic” stations were the best of B-sides you never wanted to hear. For a while, I would skip as many songs as I would listen to, but that has changed.

It seems Apple flipped a switch and realized that classic stations should be playing the best of those genres with only a little bit of discovery. That’s the way those stations should be. The hits of those years have already been set—that’s what people want to hear.

If I’m having friends over and put on Classic Rock or Classic Metal, I want songs that everyone knows, one after the other, hit after hit.

That’s exactly what I get now.

I’ve added more “classic” songs to my library in the last two months than I have in the past three years. That’s a sign for me of how good the stations are getting.

Apple Music is making other changes too. The company recently added “My Chill Mix” to go with “My New Music” and “My Favorites” mixes. These mixes can be the core of your Apple Music experience if you want them to be.

“My Chill Mix” is something I listen to on Sunday mornings with a cup a coffee. It’s based on the genres I listen to the most, so Rock for me. Everyone’s mix will be different and based on the music they love the most. I’ve loved this playlist each and every week.

Apple said when they first launched Apple Music that it’s not just about the song you’re listening to, but the song that comes next. That’s very true. If you’re always wondering if you’ll hate the next song, you never truly enjoy your listening experience. I think they’ve finally got to that point for me.

Is everything perfect? No, but, let’s be honest, it never is.

Apple Music still doesn’t recognize a lot of the music I purchased in my library, which is annoying. I think, given the opportunity, Apple would never have promised that it would match our music library with songs on the service. There are just too many variables to get right like remastered versions of albums, Deluxe versions and other content that doesn’t allow for accurate matching. While Apple is trying, it’s become one of the main sore points for many users.

In addition, I’ve had this strange problem lately that when I play many AC/DC songs from Apple Music, it will only play the live version. I search for “You Shook Me All Night Long” from “Back in Black” and it will play a live version instead. It happens with may songs from AC/DC, across many studio albums. It’s weird.

Even with those couple of issues, you can’t ignore how much better Apple Music is and how significant the changes have been over the past six months. There’s more I’d love to see them do to engage music lovers in the app, but making the service better is a process that they’re clearly working on.