Primephonic purchase will power Apple’s standalone classical music app

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Apple buys Primephonic: Apple Music's classical catalog will get a big boost from Primephonic.
Apple Music's classical offering will get a big boost from Primephonic.
Photo: Samuel Sianipar/Unsplash

Apple Music’s purchase of classical music service Primephonic will give fans of the genre a richer experience, Cupertino said Monday.

Apple said it will work to incorporated the service’s features into a standalone classical app that will launch next year. The company promised high-quality audio, expert recommendations and playlists, exclusive audio content, “extensive contextual details on repertoire and recordings” and other advanced features for classical fans.

A dedicated app for classical fans

The nature of classical catalogs — which can contain numerous recordings of the same piece, done by a wide range of performers — makes the style of music especially tricky to handle. Buying Primephonic gives Apple a straightforward way to beef up its classical music offering. It also gives Cupertino a leg up in its battle for streaming dominance with market leader Spotify.

“We love and have a deep respect for classical music, and Primephonic has become a fan favorite for classical enthusiasts,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, in a press release Monday. “Together, we’re bringing great new classical features to Apple Music, and in the near future, we’ll deliver a dedicated classical experience that will truly be the best in the world.”

Apple did not disclose how much it paid for the Amsterdam-based service, which launched in 2018.

Primephonic gives Apple Music a classical boost

Buying Primephonic gives Apple a straightforward way to beef up its classical music offering.

Primephonic’s app let users “search for musicians and albums, as well as more specific metadata such as the composer, conductor, soloist, or the choir,” PCMag wrote in 2019. “It’s this level of specificity that sets Primephonic apart. A classical piece can have up to 10 different parameters compared to the title-artist-album triad of a pop song. Spelling counts, too. While there’s only one Beyoncé, there can be over 40 possible spellings of ‘Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky,’ and the algorithms used by mainstream music-streaming apps can’t handle the subtleties.”

Those types of complexities make handling classical tough for streaming services. And with Apple Music’s current focus on pop stars and playlists, classical can get overlooked.

A small market segment

Still, classical represented just 1% of the overall streaming market in 2018, according to Statista. Classical music tends to draw an older — and richer — demographic as well.

“Most of our users are age 55 plus and are highly educated and relatively well off,” Primephonic CTO Henrique Boregio said in 2020. “We joke in the office that we don’t know whether you start liking classical music and then you become wealthy, or if it’s the other way around.”

Apple Music currently houses “hundreds of thousands of classical albums, all in Lossless and high-resolution audio, as well as hundreds of classical albums in Apple Music’s Spatial Audio, with new albums added regularly,” Apple said.

Apple said it will shut down Primephonic on September 7. Starting immediately, Primephonic will stop accepting new subscribers. Current Primephonic subscribers will get six months of free Apple Music while Apple works on the dedicated app. Primephonic said subscribers will receive prorated refunds in a statement posted online.

Source: Apple