A new report has revealed some of the inner workings behind music curation at Apple Music, particularly the human experts that Apple has hired to build its 14,000 playlists. Apple's team of human curators stands at around a dozen full-time experts who sift through Apple Music's massive catalog to find the very best the service has to offer.
Curators are encouraged to elect favorite artists and songs for prominent placement across the service — including on playlists, most corners of the new music homepage, and the live, DJ-hosted Beats 1 radio — in an approach that, with its elevation of strong instinct over consensus wisdom, also aligns with a famous edict of Apple's founder Steve Jobs: "People don't know what they want until you tell them."
Apple's team is also extending its influence outside the company, forging relationships with artists, labels, and managers. Those efforts can have a big impacts for new and unknown artists, such as Atlanta-based rapper 6lack:
Chery urged Famoso to release one of the songs, a lugubrious, late-night lament called "Prblms," to iTunes, and within days of arriving there it was being played on Beats 1 radio ("This 6lack PRBLMS record is vibe for sure," Zane Lowe declared) and seeded on over 10 Apple Music playlists, including "The A-List: Hip-Hop" and "If You Like… The Weeknd." The song gained over 1 million streams in a week, and by late June, it had surfaced on the Snapchat accounts of Kylie Jenner and Puff Daddy.
Human curation has been a key aspect of Apple Music since launch, with Apple marketing it as a more human way to introduce people to new music, rather than the algorithms used by its rivals.