I Love Apple Music's Terrible Algorithm
I think about this every now and then but it showed up prominently for me last night.
I know very few people that use Apple Music. But I think it's the best Music Streaming app for two major reasons:
Reason 1: The Apple Cloud Library
Apple Music picked up the mantle that Google Play Music dropped after its unceremonous death. It lets you upload any of your own music and have it live right next to albums you add from the main library, available for cloud streaming on any and all devices. This is awesome because I can put my Touhou Black Midi albums and the Goku Ultra Dripstinct Theme right next to my Daft Punk Discography. This is incredibly awesome. If there is a limit to how many of my own tracks I can upload, I have not reached it. And I have a metric boat-load of tracks uploaded, so that's good.
Reason 2: The Algorithm is Garbage
This is the main reason for writing this post. When I was on Spotify through most of college I was pretty content with what it would spoon-feed me as far as music recommendations. That was fine, at first. But looking back on it, it really limited what I ended up listening to. It latched on to the fact that I was a big fan of Yuc'e and just gave me music Like That for the rest of time. I love Yuc'e! But the fact that everything in my Top Song Playlists from 2016 to 2018 are all very, very similar in genre is a lil...meh, you know? It started to blend together into one "Otacore" mess.
A Note on Otacore
Otacore is what Spotify told me I listened to most in my Spotify Wrapped. Apparently it means Otaku-core. I hate that this knowledge exists in my brain, and thusly do I pass it on to you.
On the opposite coin, we have Apple Music. Apple Music gives you 4 algorithmicly generated playlists:
- Get Up! Mix: Meant to be a bunch of upbeat tracks. Updated Mondays.
- Chill Mix: Basically the lo-fi hip-hop stuff. Updated Sundays.
- New Music: Described as "discover new music from artists we think you'll like." Updated Fridays.
- Favorites: A bunch of stuff you already put on repeat. Updated Tuesdays.
These mixes are okay at best, and really bad at worst. Favorites is probably the best of them, but that's because it's supposed to give you the stuff you very clearly like to listen to often. The rest of them do a pretty bad job because they also give me stuff I already listen to often.
Now, some credit is due. It's gotten better, to an extent. The Chill Mix much more frequently gives me new artists to listen to nowadays.
But I don't want it to get better. The Apple Music algorithm being so terrible means that I now go out and look for music myself, and it's pretty awesome.
There is a sense of purpose that comes with searching for music you want to listen to. Or, more accurately, a sense of active consumption. On Spotify, I would just let tracks flit past me as I shoved them through my speakers, passively consuming them as I worked. It kinda sucked, in retrospect. Sure, every once in a while I'd add a song to my library when I really liked it. But even then, it'd be similar to all the other songs that Spotify would serve me up.
On Apple Music, I peruse through the genre tabs like I'm in a record store. Pulling out this, listening to a track or two. Putting it back. Adding it to my library if I like the vibes. Listen Now gives me lots of good recommendations as well. And the playlists that you can find in the Browse section are all manually updated by Apple Music Curators. They have not let me down thus far.
I love music, but for quite a while I was content with just listening to the same stuff I always do. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but I missed the joy of finding a new artist I was into.
The batch above is just from yesterday. 5 ofthe albums are from artists I've never heard of. But I'll be continuing to check out the rest of their discographies as well! That's neat!
So yeah, give Apple Music a shot if you miss going out of your way to find music. The app isn't going to give you a choice!