Apple is launching a new music streaming service focused on classical music. Based on its 2021 acquisition of Amsterdam-based streamer Primephonic, the new Apple Music Classical app will offer Apple Music subscribers access to more than 5 million classical music tracks, including new releases in high-quality audio, as well as hundreds of curated playlists, thousands of exclusive albums and other features like composer bios and deep dives on key works, Apple says.
The service was rumored to be nearing completion, given its appearance in the latest OS updates rolled out to developers, but the exact timing of the launch wasn’t yet known.
However, while the app is being announced today, it’s only available for preorder on the App Store for now. The release date will be later this month, on March 28. In addition, the app will only support iOS devices running iOS 15.4 or newer at launch.
The company’s decision to target classical music listeners with a standalone app is a differentiator for its Apple Music subscription service — though it’s one that’s quite different from the features rival Spotify announced this week, which had involved tech-forward features like AI and video-based discovery feeds.
Instead, Apple Music Classical will present a simple interface for engaging with classical works. Users will be able to search by composer, work, conductor or even catalog number, to locate recordings. These can be streamed in high-quality audio of up to 192 kHz/24-bit Hi-Res Lossless. And thousands of recordings will be available in Apple’s immersive spatial audio, as well.
The app will also let users dive into the recordings to read editorial notes about the composers and descriptions of their key works. Famous composers will have their own high-resolution digital portraits available, which Apple commissioned from artists. These were designed with color palettes and artistic references from the relevant classical period, Apple notes, and more will be added in time. At launch, portraits will be available for Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin and Johann Sebastian Bach.
The service will continue to be updated with new music over time, too. Apple notes it’s been working with classical music artists and music institutions to offer exclusive content and recordings at launch and this will continue in the future. For the time being, users will be able to track news and updates about the app and music releases on the @appleclassical Twitter account.
There’s no additional charge for Apple Music Classical as it’s being shipped as part of the Apple Music subscription. The app will be available to subscribers across plans, including Individual ($10.99/mo), Student ($5.99/mo) and Family ($16.99/mo) plans, and in the Apple One bundles.
Though the service is iOS-only at launch, it will support Android “soon,” similar to Apple Music’s app.