Apple’s streaming music service is growing by leaps and bounds—here are a few tips to get the most out of it.
By Eric Griffith and Jeffery L Wilson of PC Mag.com
Few streaming music services explode onto the market and into the public consciousness like Apple Music. Backed by Cupertino’s marketing juggernaut and millions of existing iTunes users, Apple Music is now growing faster than its top rival, Spotify.
This isn’t too surprising. It’s a default app on iOS devices, and there’s even an Android version for people who don’t own an iPhone or iPad. That’s potentially millions upon millions of customers who may give the app a try for their streaming music needs.
Plus, Apple Music is a fine music service. You get lots of tunes, music-related television and film content, and the Connect social network that keeps you on top of music happenings. And Apple Music offers a family plan ($14.99 per month for six people who share over iCloud) and a discount for college students ($4.99 per month).
Apple Music isn’t flawless. It doesn’t have a free, ad-supported option like Spotify, but it does let iOS users listen free to Beats 1 radio and other stations. That’s the big picture Apple Music, but the music service has lots of goodies beneath the hood. We’ve got a list of 20 tips and tricks here that will help you get the most out of Apple Music, or at least prevent it from getting the better of you.
1. Get Your Connect Name
When you post comments or playlists in Apple Music, it’ll show your name. You can claim a special nickname for Apple’s somewhat-revamped Connect social network, if you’re quick about it. (No one wants to be told they should be egriffith646985.) In the Music app, enter a handle and add a photo.
2. Skip Connecting
By default, any artist you add to your library is going to be one you follow using Connect. In fact, any artist you’ve ever bought music from in iTunes is auto-followed, even that one hit wonder from years ago. To change that, tap Account > Following. There, you can not only unfollow individual artists—who might, in fact, use the service to try and stay in touch with you about new releases—you can also tell Connect to stop auto-following artists you’ve added to your music library. Any artist you don’t follow on Connect won’t appear in the Connect Section of Apple Music, naturally.
3. Kill Connect Entirely
Want to do away with Connect? On iOS, go into Settings > General > Restrictions. Turn them on if they’re off. Scroll down to Apple Music Connect and turn on the restriction. After that, go back to the Music app—you’ll see the Connect tab has been replaced with “Playlists.”
4. Turn off the Auto-Renew
After your three-month trial of Apple Music, Apple is just going to assume you love it and want to subscribe. Prevent that charge from automatically appearing on your credit card. While in the Music app, tap the head icon in the upper left > View Apple ID > log in > Manage (under Subscriptions at the bottom). Turn off Automatic Renewal. A pop-up will tell you how long you have left in your trial. Remember, after your trial ends, any music you’ve added via Apple Music to playlists and the like will go buh-bye.
5. Tap to Like, Double-Tap to Love.
Services such as Spotify and Apple Music live by mining what you like musically, so it can recommend more. In Apple Music, you’re asked from the get-go for suggestions of favorite artists and styles when you tap “For You.” To make changes later, tap the head icon > Choose Artists for You. Pink bubbles with musical genres and then specific artists will appear. Tap to tell Apple you like it. But if you double-tap, it indicates a deep, abiding love and that singer or band or genre is going to weigh heavily into future suggestions. If there’s a genre in a bubble you don’t like at all, tap and hold it to get rid of it.
6. Like from Lock
Listening to Apple Music with your phone locked is a god-send. If you hear a new song stream you like, but don’t want to go back into the app to indicate you like it, just click the heart outline on the iOS lock screen. It’ll turn solid red, to indicate your devotion. (This does NOT add the music to your phone or playlists. It just lets Apple know you like it/them, so future recommendations can reflect your refined tastes. You’ll find those recommendations on the For You tab.)
7). Siri into Apple Music
The ties between Apple’s audio AI and Apple Music are pretty good. You can use Siri to search for music (“Find ‘White Christmas’ by Bing Crosby on Apple Music” brought it right up), but also to do things like shuffle songs (hold down the home button while in a playlist and say “Shuffle Songs.”) Remember Siri also has built-in Shazam, so ask Siri to ID a song playing around you, and when she does, you can then immediately click the arrow button to start playback.
8. Hide Apple Music Suggestions
Hate that For You tab because you already know what you like, and hell, you already have all the music you want? You can stay subscribed to Apple Music while hiding it from view. On the iPhone, go to Settings > Music and turn off Show Apple Music. Next time you open the Music App, the For You and New tabs will be gone, and it will show My Music, Playlists, Radio, and Connect (assuming you didn’t kill it in restrictions).
9. See Recent Searches
If you can’t remember the last thing you looked for, or just don’t want to type it again, look for the clock icon in the search bar on iOS. It’ll show you a full list of the most recent searches.
10. Download for Offline Listening
You’re an Apple Music paying customer, or soon will be… so enjoy the fruits of that by making music you wouldn’t necessarily buy otherwise available to listen to, anytime, anywhere, even when you’re offline. All you do is click the three-dot menu next to a song (or an entire album) and on the menu that pops up, click Make Available Offline. (To buy it, click Show in iTunes Store.) This also works from within Beats 1 Radio.
11. Download Over Cellular
The default setting is that you only get to download music to the phone using Wi-Fi. You can change that by going into Settings > iTunes & App Store. Turn on the Use Cellular Data option. It’s up to you to make sure you don’t hit your data cap, if you have one.
12. Call in Your Requests
Want to make a request of Beats 1 radio? You can, by calling the number for your geographic location, listed here (and shown above). To be clear, in the US, call 1-310-299-8756 or toll free to 1-877-720-6293.
13. View Downloaded Only
Let’s say you’ve got a huge library of music showing in your My Music tab—but most of it’s streaming. If you want to know what’s available when you’re offline (namely, the tracks you’ve downloaded), tap on the My Music tab, and at the top of the tracks, tap Songs or Albums or whatever shows just below the album covers. It brings up the menu where you change how to sort music. At the bottom of that menu, toggle Show Music Available Offline to only see what’s stored on the phone. (This doesn’t quite work for iTunes Match users; on my phone, I still saw all my Match titles, even though they’re not locally stored. Seems like more of a bug than a feature, Apple.)
14. Publish to Apple Music
Looks like Spotify isn’t the only place you can push your tunes! On iOS, music crafted with GarageBand can be shared direct to Apple Music Connect. (This doesn’t yet work on the Mac desktop.) Naturally, an Apple Music account is required, and chances are if you ever leave the service behind, the service will kick your music to the curb. And it’s not exactly going to replace SoundCloud for original music sharing anytime soon. But it’s an interesting start.
15. Wake to Apple Music
Any song in the Apple Music library of 30 million tracks can now be what you wake to in the morning. Save a favorite song to your library (click that ellipsis three-dot menu as a song plays and select Add to My Music)—after that, go into the iOS Clock app, create or edit an alarm, and under Sound, click Pick a Song. From there, find it in the lists by album, artist, song, or just search for the individual track. (If you let the subscription lapse, you won’t have that song to wake to, of course.)
16. Access Apple Music on the Desktop
You’ll need to make sure you’ve got the latest version of iTunes, 12.7.3, but when you do the software that has always held your Apple-based music collection (and is the focal point of Apple-based music sales, not to mention backup up your iPhone, etc.) becomes your streaming center. Along with the usual tabs for My Music and Playlists, you’ll see Apple Music-specific tabs at the top including For You (seen here on both mobile and desktop), Radio, and Connect. If you’re all thumbs, this is the best way to do some of the detail work, like adding things to playlists, creating Smart Playlists, etc.
17. Enjoy Music-Related TV and Films
Apple Music has more than just audio content. By visiting Browse > TV & Movies you can dive into video, too. The annoyingly popular Carpool Karaoke, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story, and Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives are just some of the music-focused television and film content available for streaming.
18. Apply Content Restrictions
Did you know that Apple Music lets you filter out naughty language and adult themes? By visiting Settings > Content Restrictions, you can toggle the Allow Explicit Content option on or off. This doesn’t only apply to music; you can also apply filters to music-related television and movie content.
In addition, you can create a restriction password to prevent someone else from adjusting the restriction parameters (a much welcomed feature for those who have children).
19. Automatically add Songs to Your Library
You like playlists, I like playlists, we all like playlists. Themed music collections are the way to go for those times when you need extra energy for a gym session or soft vibes for falling asleep. Music in your playlists are likely to be tunes you dig, so a handy Apple Music feature lets you automatically add playlist tracks to your Library. You can get it up and running by opening Settings and toggling on Add Playlist Songs.
20. Tweak EQ Settings
You don’t need to use Apple Music’s default audio settings. The app includes an equalizer that lets you boost various frequencies, as well as up the bass and adjust the surround sound.
What are your favorite Features of Apple Music? Tell us about it in the comments below.