Apple is making a serious breakthrough in classical music. The company today announced the acquisition of Primephonic, a streaming service focused on classical music.
As part of the deal, that service will be shut down starting September 7, but Apple says it will integrate Primephonic features and playlists into Apple Music.
Interestingly, Apple will also be releasing a dedicated Primephonic UI fan app sometime in 2022. This suggests that the company is serious about attracting mainstream fans, perhaps to differentiate itself from Spotify and other competitors. All companies in the audio streaming sector are competing for market share and offering the same catalog of music is no longer enough. Services are important to Apple’s continued growth.
Underrepresented – Classical music has long been overlooked by streaming services – the genre is small compared to popular music which has big names and big budgets. And with many mislabeled and categorized recordings, it can be difficult to find the recording you’re looking for, especially if key information like the names of composers or conductors is missing. Services like Primephonic, which launched three years ago, have jumped into the fray to fix this problem with much more detailed metadata. They also have exclusive catalogs of music in direct tuning with orchestras.
Mass market – Primephonic says it sold to Apple because it would never reach as many listeners as it would like without also offering a larger catalog of music. The service was $ 7.99 per month for the lowest tier, and everything you got was classic – it’s easy to see why that would be hard to sell. Within the Apple Music ecosystem, users can listen to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Taylor Swift, all in one place.
But for current Primephonic subscribers, shutting down before Apple’s alternative is ready isn’t a good experience (subscribers get at least prorated, six-month refunds from Apple Music). Lossless audio is also poorly supported in Apple Music, using the company’s own format that is not supported by Bluetooth headphones. The company also made headlines for allegations of less than stellar treatment of its employees.
Still, the sale could be good for fans of classical listening if Apple keeps its promises and turns Primephonic into an Apple Music-level experience.