Thoughts on Improving Apple Music Radio Stations

Since getting the HomePod, I have been using Apple Music Radio Stations way more than I ever did in the past. It has become pretty normal for me to start up a radio station on the HomePod when I get home from work and just let it run in the background until we are ready for bed.

Unfortunately, the type of music that I usually listen to (red dirt country1) does not have a built in curated station; so I have had to create my own. Over the last few years, I have trained Apple Music using a station based off of Wade Bowen’s Songs About Trucks.

While I have built up a pretty good station that I can listen to, the process of making one is not very good. Here are a few things that I think Apple could do to improve radio stations in Apple Music.

Renaming the Station

When you create a custom station, it is just given the name of the song or artist that you created it from. So when I want to play my red dirt station, I have to tell Siri to “play my radio station Songs About Trucks”. It would be much more natural to tell her to “play red dirt music” (or even “play my red dirt station”).

Better Discovery

It should be easier to track down songs that have been played by the station (as a way to discover new music). The easiest way to do this would be to show the station’s playback history. From that history, I should be able to tell it to play a particular song more or less often (more on this in a bit).

Another thing that I would like is an option to have Siri play DJ a little and tell you out loud what the song is (I can’t decide if I would want this before or after the song plays, but I am leaning toward before). I would not use this on my phone or my watch where I could just glance at my screen to see what it is, but it would be great on the HomePod. I can currently ask what the song is and it will tell me, but the last thing I want to is interrupt a song I have not heard before to ask about it.

Better Presets

The only way to tell Apple Music what type of songs to play for a station is to use Siri to tell it to play more songs like the one playing or less2. So other than the initial song, the only way to tell it to play more of a certain song is to hope that is comes on.

I want to be able to go to individual songs, albums, artists, and playlists and add them or exclude3 them from a station the same way I would add them to a playlist. I also want to be able to open a view that shows all of these options for the station so I can edit them.

Up Next Management

Currently when listening to a station, it will show the song that is coming next. I want to be able to add or exclude that song from the station before it starts playing. If I chose to exclude it, it should be removed and replaced by a different song in the Up Next queue.

I also want to be able to tell it to play a particular song next without leaving the station4. If Carney Man by Cross Canadian Ragweed comes on, I want to be able to tell it to play Ringling Road by William Clark Green next. If I do this enough for particular songs, it should learn that and do it for me in the future.

Sharing Stations

Much like playlists, if I put a bunch of work into creating a station I should be able to share it with other people too. My wife should be able to tell Siri to “listen to Ross’s red dirt station”.

Bonus point if they allow multiple people to make edits to it or allow them to duplicate it so they can make their own adjustments without affecting mine.

Stations have improved quite a bit since Apple first introduced them, but I still think there is a ton of room for them to improve. With these improvements, I could see myself replacing every playlist I have with a custom station instead.

Or Apple could make a curated red dirt station and I wouldn’t need any of this.

  1. Don’t @ me. 
  2. In the app’s UI, you can also tell Apple Music if you “Love” or “Dislike” a song, but those are global settings and are not tied to that individual station. Telling Apple Music that a particular song does not belong to station is not the same thing as saying I don’t like that song. 
  3. Being able to make robust exclusion lists here is important. I like some of Luke Bryan’s music, but I never want any of his songs to show up in my red dirt station. 
  4. The song I requested should be “added” to the station if it wasn’t already.