Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at The Next Track website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast, to keep up to date with new episodes, and new articles from the website.
My podcast partner Doug Adams were chatting recently about the experience of listening to record albums – LPs – where you would flip a record after 20 or 25 minutes of music. So he made an AppleScript to reproduce this in iTunes.
Back in the day, LP record albums were experienced as pairs of “sides,” right?
A decent record side was about 22 to 27 minutes long. And so we got used to listening to chunks of music of this duration. These time constraints on a record would often affect how the album was programmed, such as the song order and perhaps other conceptual factors.
If you spent a lot of time listening to record albums this way, you may remember the convention of “flipping the record” after the first side was finished in order to hear the other side. It only took a few moments to do so, but this pause in the action is the sort of thing you don’t experience much with CDs and virtually never with hours-long playlists.
You can listen to Apple Music to hear the songs you know, or to discover new music. The “discovery” feature is one of the main selling points of streaming services, which offer tens of millions of tracks. But this discovery is very difficult. As I recently wrote, it’s not easy to play music that you can’t remember. If music isn’t in your library, and you need to search for it or, even more difficultly, use Siri to request it, you will generally not play a great deal of music. You will remember your favorite albums, your favorite songs, the artists you have listened to for a long time; or you will listen to the biggest hits, the current favorites that you hear, perhaps, in a playlist of new music.
While you can discover lots of music on any streaming service, Apple Music makes it difficult to find out what you have discovered. Sure, you can look at your iPhone, or ask Siri, and you’ll know what is being played at a given time. But what if you are out running, listening to a long playlist in shuffle mode; when you get home, you cannot find which songs you heard. You may want to go back and pick some of those songs to add them to your library for your next workout. But if you look at the Recently Played section of For You, all you see are icons for albums or playlists. Even if you play just one song from an album or playlist, you see that icon; nothing tells you exactly what you listened to.
This is even worse if you listen to an Apple Music radio station. You will see the station in Recently Played, but you won’t see any listening history. The only place you can see that is on the Radio tab, in the Up Next button, under History.
It’s more confusing because Apple Music lists something as “played” even if you’ve only listened to it for a few seconds. Say you have been sampling some new albums that show up in For You. You start playing one of them, you listen for a minute or so, and you don’t really care for the music, so you stop and try another album. The Recently Played section shows that you have listened to that album. It doesn’t show that you stopped listening to it, that you moved on to something else, that you did not like it. If you’re sampling a lot of music, this makes it very difficult to remember what you did like; unless you choose to “Love” every track that you like just a little bit.
Apple is erring on the side of caution here. They don’t want to not include the music that you listen to, so they include everything and more. What they should be doing is only showing an album if you have started playing the album itself, rather than a song in an album. And they should show songs that you played outside an album or playlist separately. Or, when you select an album or playlist in the Recently Played section, they should somehow indicate which songs you listened to. And they should probably not include any songs that you haven’t listened to all the way through, or nearly. When you play music in iTunes, it only counts as played if you have listened to it up until at least 10 seconds from the end; you can skip ahead during the final fadeout, and iTunes will still count the track as played.
Most people don’t care too much about this; they listen to music as wallpaper, they listen to a playlist because someone or some algorithm suggested it. But for those who are actually interested in discovering new music, it would be useful if Apple improved this Recently Played section.
Apple has written a letter to the music industry which has sparked fears it’s planning to kill off iTunes.
Thet tech giant has just announced ‘the end of iTunes LPs’, prompting claims that it’s secretly planning to stop selling downloads altogether.
Metro.co.uk has been shown an email sent to people working in the music business announcing the withdrawal of ‘LPs’ from the iTunes store.
Older readers and vinyl lovers will know that LP stands for ‘long-playing’ and is generally used to refer to an album.
But in Apple speak, an LP is a specific type of music bundle which will be removed from the iTunes store throughout 2018.
Although this one decision does not spell immediate doom for iTunes, music industry sources and experts said it’s evidence which chimes with rumours that Apple is intending to stop selling music downloads and shift to a subscription model.
Oh, my… The stupid is strong. They do mention that the iTunes LP is a specific music and extras bundle, which never took off. They have no intention of eliminating downloads any time soon.
The “rumors” about Apple planning to end downloads were propagated by one website which is generally wrong in all its predictions. They’ve been trying to get people to report the story, and it hasn’t spread, because they’re well known of sensationalism. So we can put that one to rest for now.
The iCloud Download column cannot be removed from a playlist in Songs View for very long (it can’t be removed at all from a playlist in Playlist View). You can hide it using View Options, but this will only be temporary and it won’t be long before it pops back up again. Its default initial placement seems to be adjacent to the Name column.
Personally, I like having this column available since I sometimes want to know if a track I want to work on has a local file or one that resides in the cloud. But I have heard from Correspondents who would prefer this column to stay hidden when they hide it.
Indeed. And Doug makes a good suggestion as to how to deal with it.