With over 75 million songs in its catalog, Apple Music touts an extensive library of music. But how exactly does Apple Music count the number of songs it has? Here’s a look at how Apple Music tallies its song count.
What gets counted as a song?
Apple Music counts each individual track as a song, even if it’s part of an album or single. So every unique track counts towards the total song count, regardless of whether it’s a standalone single or part of a larger collection of songs. This includes:
- Tracks from studio albums
- Live versions
- Cover songs
- Deluxe and bonus tracks
As long as a track is its own distinct recording, Apple Music counts it towards its catalog size. Songs that are exactly the same except for minor edits or small variations are not counted twice. Apple Music also does not count short interludes or intros that are less than 30 seconds long.
How are duplicates handled?
With tens of millions of tracks from various sources, duplicate songs are inevitable. Apple Music has mechanisms in place to avoid counting duplicates towards its catalog size.
When new music is added to the platform, Apple runs audio fingerprinting to detect identical tracks. If a song is already present, the new version is not counted again. Covers, live versions, and remixes with significant musical differences pass the fingerprinting test and are counted.
Apple also aggregates data from music labels and distributors to identify duplicates. Metadata like ISRC codes and other identifiers help flag songs that are essentially the same recording. Only one instance of each unique recording is counted.
How often is the song count updated?
Apple Music’s song count is not a static number. It fluctuates daily as new music is continuously added to the platform.
Here are some key ways the song count changes:
- New album and single releases from top artists
- Adding music catalogs of artists new to Apple Music
- New exclusives and original content
- Removing music when licensing deals expire
To keep the song count current, Apple Music updates it regularly as its catalog evolves. While not publicly disclosed, Apple likely recalculates the count on a daily or weekly basis.
Major new album releases can quickly add tens of thousands of songs in a single day. Apple Music publishes updated song count announcements periodically to reflect the latest size of its catalog.
How does Apple Music’s song count compare?
Here’s how Apple Music’s catalog size stacks up against key competitors as of October 2022:
|Apple Music||Over 90 million|
|Spotify||Over 82 million|
|Amazon Music||Over 90 million|
|YouTube Music||Over 80 million|
Apple Music and Amazon Music are neck-and-neck for the largest catalog size, with over 90 million songs each. Spotify and YouTube Music trail at over 80 million songs.
While Apple Music’s song count surpasses most competitors, catalog size alone doesn’t guarantee a better user experience. Factors like usability, personalization, and audio quality also come into play.
But a large song catalog gives Apple Music an advantage, especially for fans of niche genres. The long tail of music available on Apple Music is greater than on more narrowly focused services.
How does Apple add new music?
Maintaining a catalog of nearly 100 million songs is no easy feat. Apple Music has teams of curators around the world that work to expand its vast collection of music.
Here are some of the main ways Apple Music adds new content:
- Licensing deals with major and indie labels
- Direct submissions from artists
- Partnerships with studios and distributors
- In-house creative initiatives
Signing licensing deals gives Apple Music access to vast existing catalogs from major labels like Universal Music Group and Sony Music. Indie label deals also bolster the selection of unsigned and niche genres on the platform.
Apple provides tools for independent artists to directly upload their music to Apple Music. Artists can deliver their tracks straight to Apple and get them in front of Apple Music’s audience.
Studio partnerships allow Apple to host original content and exclusives like concert films and studio sessions. Apple also launches initiatives to fund and curate original artists and releases.
And Apple Music’s team of human editors worldwide are constantly on the hunt for emerging hits, hot regional trends, and obscure tunes to keep Apple Music’s shelves stocked with an expanding selection.
Localization and international music
In addition to English-language music, Apple Music boasts a strong international catalog. Music is available in over 165 countries on Apple Music, with a library spanning dozens of languages and local genres.
Localized versions of Apple Music offer region-specific music recommendations, charts, and playlists. This helps listeners discover locally relevant music from their country or language.
Expanding its international music collection helps Apple Music appeal to diverse listeners worldwide. It also uniquely positions Apple Music to serve listeners interested in regional scenes and foreign languages.
Does more songs mean a better service?
At a certain point, does the number of songs even matter? Is access to 100 million songs meaningfully better than a catalog of “only” 50 million?
There are a few key benefits to Apple Music having such an extensive catalog of music:
- Greater chance of finding rare, niche, and old songs
- More comprehensive access to an artist’s discography
- Discover new artists and albums you’d never find elsewhere
- No shortage of music to explore and listening options
But there’s also a case that the marginal benefits start to diminish beyond a certain catalog size. Most listeners regularly listen to just a few hundred or thousand songs at most. While avid fans might appreciate the long tail, a catalog of say 40 million songs may satisfy the needs of over 90% of users.
At the end of the day, the number of songs alone isn’t everything. While Apple Music’s massive collection is an asset, Spotify and others prove you can be an industry leader with “just” tens of millions of tracks.
Apple Music’s catalog count is an impressive technical achievement that benefits customers in many ways. But simply adding more and more songs has diminishing returns, and risks diluting recommendations. A song catalog is also just one aspect of a music service.
While Apple Music’s 90+ million songs give it the largest collection among major streaming services, competitors like Spotify demonstrate you can succeed with a smaller but well-curated library focused on surfacing the best listening options. Ultimately, music discovery, recommendations, and features may determine who wins the streaming music wars as much as raw catalog size.