Apple Music Subscribers: Exclusive Live Performances in Spatial Audio

Apple announced Apple Music Sessions, a series of live performances that will be available exclusively to subscribers of the company’s music service.

Carrie Underwood and Tenille Townes are the first two artists to be featured, and for now, the sessions will primarily be geared toward the country.

That’s likely because they’re being recorded from Nashville, Tennessee, in what Apple describes as a “state-of-the-art” studio. The company plans to tap into other genres “in the future.”

For each session, artists will perform original songs and “creative” covers. Carrie Underwood went with Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” with Townes opting for Etta James’ “At Last.”

You’ll be able to listen to Apple Music Sessions in spatial audio, and the performances are also available as videos. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t mention any particular microphone setup in its studio, so presumably, these sessions are mixed for Atmos after the fact to sound more expansive and immersive.

That’s at least one differentiator for Apple compared to competitors; Spotify has been doing its series of recording sessions for ages but only in stereo. However, considering how badly the company is dragging its feet at rolling out a hi-fi tier, I don’t expect that to change soon.

Apple itself has been down this road already, with many artists having released iTunes Sessions. We are old enough to remember Sessions@AOL and other live concerts broadcast on the web in the early aughts. Forget about spatial audio; back then, we had Real Audio. And instead of sound coming from all directions, aggressive compression made it seem like your favorite bands were performing underwater. How far we’ve come.

Apple Music is an audio, music, and video streaming service designed by Apple Inc. Users choose music to stream to their device on-demand or can listen to existing playlists. The service also incorporates the Internet radio stations  Apple Music Hits, Apple Music 1, and Apple Music Country, which broadcast over 200 nations 24 hours a day. The service was notified on June 8, 2015, and founded on June 30, 2015. New subscribers acquire a one-month free or six months free trial with the acquisition of select products before the service demands a monthly subscription.

Initially, a music service, Apple Music, began expanding into video in 2016. Although executive Jimmy Lovine has noted that the service intends to become a “cultural platform,” Apple reportedly wants the assistance to be a “one-stop shop for pop culture.” As a result, the company is funding heavily in producing and purchasing video content in terms of music videos and concert footage that supports music releases, web series, and feature movies.

The original iOS version of Apple Music obtained mixed reviews, with criticism towards a user interface considered “not intuitive.” However, it was applauded for its playlist curation, an extensive library of songs to stream, and its integration with different Apple gadgets and services. In iOS 10, the app acquired a significant redesign, which obtained positive reviews for an updated interface with less clutter, enhanced navigation, and a more effective emphasis on users’ libraries.

Apple Music earned favor rapidly after its launch, reaching 10 million subscribers in only six months. The service includes 98 million subscribers around the globe till February 2022.

Apple Music permits users to stream over 90 million songs to their gizmos on demand. The service provides curated playlists by music experts and recommendations tailored to users’ music preferences. In addition, the service furnishes three live 24-hour radio stations: Apple Music 1, led by Apple Music Hits, DJ Zane Lowe, and Apple Music Country, broadcast in over 100 nations. The Apple Music Radio assistance is free for all users, even without an Apple Music subscription. In addition, Apple Music subscribers can build a profile to share their music with friends and follow other users to regularly view the music they’re listening to.

Apple Music’s use of iCloud, which matches a user’s songs to those found on the service, allows users to combine their iTunes with their Apple Music library and listen to their music in one place. Additionally, the service is heavily integrated into Apple’s in-house services, such as their voice assistant Siri and their audio and video streaming protocol AirPlay. As of late 2019, users also can access the full version of Apple Music via an Apple-designed web player in beta.

Apple Music’s interface has five tabs: “Library”, “Listen Now”, “Browse”, “Radio”, and “Search”. The “Library” tab displays the user’s music collection, with options to view songs by “Playlists,” “Artists,” “Albums,” “Songs,” or “Downloaded Music.” Below these alternatives, the tab also offers music recently counted to the user’s library. The “Listen Now” tab suggests music for the user based on their music tastes.

Human expert choices supplement the algorithmic curation, while users can “Like” and “Dislike” songs to improve music suggestions. “Browse” reveals new album releases from artists, playlists curated by the Apple Music crew, upcoming album releases, as well as various categories, including “Genres,” “Moods,” “Top Charts,” and “Music Videos.” Finally, the “Radio” tab incorporates Apple Music Radio and other radio stations which play genre-specific or artist-related music, depending on the user’s preference.