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iTunes may be bad—but years and years of it are what’s making Apple Music so good

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
By Amy X. Wang
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Playlists, playlists, playlists. Every major music streaming service these days is touting the originality of its personalized, curated content (however ironic that is).

Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature, one of the first custom-playlist offerings to hit the market, has been applauded for its intricate algorithms that scrutinize users’ unique listening histories in order to recommend similar songs and artists. But Apple Music—though a latecomer to music streaming, having only launched last summer—may have a leg up, of sorts.

And weirdly, that’s because of iTunes, the clunky, oft-hated music storage platform of the 2000s that so many people had to use when the most popular way to get music was in the form of digital purchases.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Apple Music executives revealed that the (yes, potentially embarrassing) listening habits/histories of people who used to use the now-nearly-outdated platform are actually being carried over to Apple Music, in the form of its new playlists that came with the recent iOS 10 update:

Apple claimed a potential advantage over similar algorithmically personalized playlists, including Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Pandora’s Thumbprint Radio: deep historical knowledge of individual users’ tastes and habits, based on years of data carried over from iTunes.
If you gave high ratings to a song or album in your old iTunes library, or just played it a lot more than others, you’ll find that behavior reflected in your My Favorites Mix.

One person on Reddit said Apple Music’s new playlist was “truly magical, it brought so much nostalgia, I actually wonder how it works,” prompting many to agree with him.

Said Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine in the BuzzFeed News interview, “I don’t know how to do this any other way, except to help make really good music… That’s the only thing that we know how to do coming from where we’re coming from. You use all the tools you have to do that.“

Apparently, those tools include years of handy data collected from a different, older product. Any advantage to be victorious in the music streaming wars.

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