The Search for Streaming Classical Music: Apple solves the problem

As anyone who loves classical music knows, the search capabilities of most streaming music services are completely frustrating. The metadata caters to pop music where a single artist records a song that is usually part of an album.  With the name of the song, you can browse through several versions of a single song and find the artist you like best.

With classical music, the search breaks down. Classical music has multiple movements, and hundreds of versions and interpretations that current streaming services simply can’t handle. For example, Stravinsky revised The Firebird several times. Yo-Yo Ma recorded three albums of Bach Cello Suites, each at a different time in his career, and each interpreted differently. Or perhaps you love Beethoven, and are particularly fond of a certain conductor’s recording from Deutsche Grammophon at a certain year, with a specific orchestra? Good luck. The metadata stops with the name of the song, artist, and album. Forget about searching on the movement, the conductor, the opus, the arrangement, or the soloist. Even more frustrating is that complete albums are chopped up into single songs like a pop album, and you simply have to trust that the songs are in the order in which they were meant to be heard.  

Apple recently released their stand-alone classical music streaming app that finally gratifies the genre. With over 5 million tracks, it boasts to being the world’s largest classical music catalogue. Additionally, it respects the soundscape of large orchestral acoustics by providing what they call Spatial Audio. This technology is a form of digital surround sound wherein different sounds can appear to envelop you from all directions, so you can put on your headphones, crank up the music and get engulfed in the splendour of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E Major.

By providing the ability to search on a combination of keywords, from composer and work, to opus number, conductor, artist, instrument or a work’s nickname, several options are immediately displayed along with what they call Editors Choice. This is a suggested curated performance that will get you listening to top quality classical music far more quickly than any other streaming service.

Thanks Apple. Now can we have a Jazz music app with the same capability?