In short, these are live performances made available exclusively for Apple Music subscribers. The first performances are available now and offer sets from country music stars Carrie Underwood and Tenille Townes, both available with Spatial Audio if you have the right hardware.
The choice of starting genre may be something to do with the recordings taking place at the company’s new “state-of-the-art studios” in Nashville.
Apple says that other country stars including Ronnie Dunn and Ingrid Andress are already pencilled in to do Apple Music Sessions, but that the company “plans to expand the series into other genres of music in the future.” It also mentions that they will be recorded “out of Apple Music’s studios around the world,” so the location will change.
Neither of the current Apple Music Sessions offers especially long setlists, each comprising of just three songs apiece. Both contain a cover: Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mama, I’m Coming Home” for Underwood, and Etta James’s “At Last” for Townes.
Each playlist contains a video of the three tracks, too, in case part of the joy of live music is seeing the artists perform.
Readers of a certain age may think this sounds pretty familiar, and not just because of the aforementioned Spotify Sessions.
Indeed, iTunes Sessions launched in 2006 offering exclusive live performances from artists to download. The likes of My Morning Jacket, Imagine Dragons, Gorillaz, Kelly Clarkson and Ellie Goulding all recorded one, and the sets tended to be eight or nine songs long.
But we live in a different world now, and while iTunes was all about driving paid digital downloads, Apple Music is an all-you-can-eat streaming proposition. With that in mind, shorter live sessions are perhaps more understandable, even if fans of the artists in question would surely prefer more.
As for the opposition, Spotify Sessions has been going for some time and has a large catalogue of artists performing their own material and cover versions. The big difference is audio quality. With no sign of Spotify’s upcoming lossless HiFi tier as of now, Apple’s live sessions are — for now — the audiophile’s choice.