Apple has expanded its Apple Music streaming subscription service to include thousands of music videos. The company wasted no time in declaring Apple Music the “new home for music videos” and signing up exclusives from heavy hitters like Beck and A Tribe Called Quest.
It looks like Apple is taking its foray into music videos seriously, with the potential to topple YouTube and VEVO as the new place to go for videos.
So here’s how to access music videos, create your own “music TV” channels, and some tips for getting the most out of the Apple Music service.
How to Watch Music Videos With Apple Music
You can access Apple Music’s video catalog on any Apple Music-compatible device. That includes iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, the Apple TV, Mac and Windows computers via iTunes, and the Apple Music for Android mobile app.
To find them, head to the Browse tab and look for the Music Videos section. Here you’ll find a list of new and exclusive videos at the top, with suggested playlists, artist spotlights, and genre highlights below that.
Apple Music treats music videos just like regular audio tracks. You can add them to your library, save them for offline viewing by clicking the little “cloud with down arrow” download icon, and of course add them to your Apple Music playlists.
Discovering Music Videos You Like
Music discovery on Apple Music isn’t great, and music videos are no different. There’s currently no suggested videos under the For You tab (at least not for me, your mileage may vary). Instead you’re left to fend for yourself, with little in the way of suggestions based on your listening habits.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to find videos that match your taste in music. In my experience this is easier on iTunes for Windows and Mac (how to make iTunes usable again), but there’s no reason you can’t do the same on other platforms:
- Search for artists: Enter a search query into the search bar and make sure you click the “Apple Music” tab before you hit Search. Scroll down in your results until you find the “Music Videos” section then hit See All.
- Search for other people’s playlists: Search for a generic term like “music video” then scroll down till you find “Shared Playlists” and hit See All. You can now add other people’s collections and sort through them at your leisure.
- Use featured playlists: Under Browse > Music Videos you’ll find a long list of featured playlists to pick through. In particular the “Today’s Video Hits” playlist is worth a look since it updates frequently.
- Artist pages: Each Apple Music artist page features a section at the bottom dedicated to music videos. Right click on an artist and pick Show in Apple Music then scroll down.
- Find a video you like (iTunes): The desktop version of Apple Music has a “page” for each video if you click on the title. Below this video you’ll find other suggested videos that feature the artist in question.
Creating Your Own “Music TV” Channels
Using the discovery tips above, you should be able to build a good library of music videos that appeals to your tastes. One of the best ways to enjoy these is by using a music video playlist—essentially your own personal music TV station.
This is as simple as creating a new playlist as you normally would, filling it with videos, then hitting Shuffle and letting it roll. You can add new videos to your playlist as you spot them, or do what I did and take 20 minutes to explore your favorite artists’ current catalog.
The Shuffle feature is important to stop all your Kendrick Lamar videos playing back-to-back. You can search for other people’s playlists (see above), and add songs en-masse to your playlists—but make sure to Add any such playlists to your library first so you can Cmd/Ctrl + Click to select multiple entries at once.
Once you’ve put together a good playlist, you can take things to the next level by giving it a silly name and creating a custom logo. The final step is to publish it on your Apple Music profile by checking the Publish on profile and in search box on the playlist screen. Now everyone will know how cool you are.
Tips for a Better Apple Music Video Experience
The service isn’t perfect, and there are still some quirks to iron out. I’ve encountered a particularly egregious bug in iTunes (Mac and Windows) where Apple Music doesn’t add videos to the correct playlist when specified from the right-click menu (see screenshot below). I found waiting a few seconds between each video I added solved the issue, but there’s no excuse for this behavior on Apple’s part.
When watching videos on the Apple TV, you can hit the Menu button on the remote to “pull back” from the video and view the song information, play time, and other controls. You can swipe left and right to change songs here too, all without interrupting what’s currently playing (see screenshot below). It’s a promising start.
Videos require a lot more space and bandwidth than audio alone. Keep this in mind if you’re downloading a lot of videos for offline use, or are thinking about streaming music videos over a cellular connection.
And another iTunes issue I encountered was a lack of video playback when connected to an AirPlay speaker. iTunes doesn’t bother showing you any video, it just plays the audio instead. Disconnect from AirPlay to see the video on your computer.
What’s to Love About Apple Music Videos?
Music videos aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they can provide a fun visual backdrop for parties or get togethers. Some artists—such as OK Go and Radiohead—have turned the music video into a craft. Others echo the past with memorable live performances, or push the technical boundaries as A-ha did with Take On Me.
The fact that the service is provided alongside Apple Music for the same flat fee is a nice touch. The ability to watch music videos back-to-back, with no advertising or interruptions, and the ability to skip a song if you’re not feeling it, is a nice addition to any living room. Naturally, it works best on the Apple TV.
Apple Music’s music videos aren’t intrusive, and Apple isn’t trying to push the service. You can choose to ignore them entirely, and you’ll probably never notice they’re there.
What’s Not to Love About Apple Music Videos?
It’s clear that Apple Music itself (the apps, interface, and implementation across devices) needs some work to accomodate music video playback and discovery. The ability to create a music video “Radio” as you can with regular songs would essentially create an “automatic” music TV station whenever you want it. Hopefully it’s one feature Apple is working on.
While the catalogue is pretty good, it doesn’t come close to matching YouTube and VEVO’s music channels. It will never be able to compete with YouTube when it comes to much smaller grassroots artists, but that’s likely not Apple’s intention anyway.
However, going forward, the company needs to strike a balance between new videos, exclusives, and filling in the back catalog.
I’ve noticed that some music videos sound noticeably worse than their audio counterparts. This is likely a combination of the original video’s age and the heavy compression iTunes applies to some videos. Newer videos don’t seem to suffer from this problem.
That compression can really take its toll on some videos though, with heavy compression artefacts visible. This is noticeably worse than the videos I’m used to seeing on TV. Some videos are stuck at SD quality, as if they’re ready for transferring to your old iPod.
My one complaint about watching videos on the Apple TV is that Music doesn’t announce the song title and artist at the start or end of a track. Swiping down to reveal the track information only shows you the track name.
And as for iTunes—it’s a mess. It’s been a mess for over a decade, and it’s a shame Apple Music is tied to the bloated media manager at all. It’s just as unresponsive and quirky when dealing with music videos as it is when it comes to regular music.
A dedicated purpose-built Apple Music app could be so much better. Many of us would take a web-based version at this point.
The Future of Apple Music Videos
Most people already turn to YouTube for their music video needs, since streaming what you want from the internet has obvious benefits over traditional media outlets. The curation and discovery aspect needs work though. Until Apple can find a way to automate the process, like good old music TV but with more user input, the potential remains unrealized.
If you’re an Apple Music subscriber I’d recommend you have a look through its music video vaults, since there are a lot of music videos to choose from. And if you own an Apple TV and subscribe to Apple Music, you’re going to have a blast.