Music to My Ears

Keeping up with new music using Apple Music

Several months ago I found myself in a quandry: Record Bird was shutting down and I didn’t know how to best stay apprised of new music releases. Record Bird did a fantastic job at not only showing me upcoming and newly released albums but also of informing me of videos, both live appearances and official music videos. It excelled by doing a few things well. Now, nearly a year later, I’ve not discovered a comparable tool, but I’ve found my way using the best tool to hand: Apple Music.

New Releases

Apple Music has two potential ways of presenting you with new music. The first is the New Releases section found at the bottom of the ‘For You’ tab. It comes close to fulfilling my requirements but falls short. It doesn’t display upcoming releases and it seems to only show entries from artists whose music you’ve added to your Library through Apple Music. Anything that comes from your own music collection doesn’t register in the system. Moreover, there doesn’t appear possible to add an artist so that their music could appear here, even if the artist’s work is available on Apple Music. Because of this wrinkle, I’m not sure how accurate the New Releases section is, but I’ve had some success with it.

New Music Mix

The second method works only by serendipity. The New Music Mix is a playlist, updated weekly, of ‘new music from artists we think you’ll like’. It doesn’t purport to do what I want, but I’ve found that it quite often does. More than once I’ve been listening to the playlist and noticed a familiar voice only to discover it’s new music by a beloved artist. The featured track frequently comes from a pre-release album which I can add to my Library and be notified upon its full release. When this works, it’s actually the closest experience to what I had with Record Bird.

(Side note: The New Music Mix is one of my favourite things about Apple Music. Occasionally it has produced some bizarre playlists but recently every week has included several tracks I enjoyed greatly and most of the rest were well within the range of being listenable. I’ve found several new artists to follow thanks to this list.)

Apple Music Friends

The last and frankly worst option is finding out about new music from your Apple Music friends. I include it here because at least once I’ve seen someone I follow has listened to an album I might be interested in but hadn’t heard about. Unless you follow people with whom you have implausibly similar taste in music and you trust them to be more cognisant of new music, don’t rely on this.

Apple Music is Mostly Adequate

I have found that Apple Music is mostly adequate at keeping me aware of new music releases. I’d love to be able to add and remove artists from the New Releases list and be able to find upcoming releases, though. This verges on becoming too much for what should be a music player and library manager. Perhaps such features would fit better in the iTunes Store app where it could also provide this functionality for the Music and Film stores. Nonetheless, I miss having a dedicated tool like Record Bird for keeping me up-to-date musically.

17 March 2019