How to Use iTunes Genius to Discover New Music

Make playlists and find new music that complements your existing music

The iTunes Genius feature does great things with music. It makes playlists of songs that sound good together using the music in your iTunes library. When you want to expand your musical horizons, Genius discovers new music based on the music you have.

Genius sees the listening and buying habits of iTunes users who use Genius. By analyzing their habits, how songs are rated and favorited, and which artists are liked by people who like similar artists, Genius guesses what you'll like.

Information in this article applies to iTunes 8 through iTunes 12, as indicated.

How to Turn on Genius in iTunes

Genius isn't turned on by default in iTunes. To turn it on, open iTunes on your computer, go to File and select the Library tab. Then, choose Turn on Genius. Choose Update Genius if you turned Genius on but are instructed to update.

Turn On Genius setting in iTunes

Generate Genius Playlists in iTunes 12

Genius suggestions changed in iTunes 12. Suggestions used to appear on most screens in recent versions of iTunes. As Apple shifted from emphasizing the sale of songs at the iTunes Store to flat-fee, unlimited streaming via Apple Music, Genius suggestions have taken a diminished role. However, you can generate Genius playlists and find new music based on a single song or album.

This method generates playlists that contain music from your existing music library.

Here's how to make a Genius playlist:

  1. Open iTunes and select a song in your music library to serve as the song that the Genius playlist is based on.

  2. Right-click the selected song and click Genius Suggestions > Save as Playlist.

    Creating a Genius Playlist in iTunes
  3. View the list of songs in the playlist. To delete those you don't want to include in the playlist, right-click the title and select Remove From Playlist.

    Remove from Playlist

The playlist is saved in the Music Playlists section of the left column of the screen, and it is named after the seed song.

Discover New Music With Genius in iTunes 12

If you are an Apple Music subscriber, you can access Genius suggestions for related music that you don't own.

  1. RIght-click a title or click the three dot menu next to a song or album in your music library.

  2. Click Show in Apple Music.

    Show in Apple Music in iTunes
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the Apple Music suggestions screen to see a list of related albums by the same artist and similar albums by other artists. If you set up the feature, you can see which of your Apple Music friends have listened to the song or album.

    Apple Music selections similar to chosen song
  4. Click any album to open it and view the songs it contains. Select any song or album for streaming or download.

iTunes Genius Suggestions in iTunes 8 Through iTunes 11

The traditional Genius suggestions feature was introduced in iTunes 8 and remained much the same through iTunes 11. It requires that you have Genius turned on, which requires an iTunes account and that you are signed in to it.

Discover New Music in iTunes 8 Through iTunes 11

To discover new music using Genius:

  1. Select Library in the top menu in iTunes, then choose Albums in the left sidebar. This shows your iTunes library as a series of album covers. The list is alphabetized based on the name of the artist.

    Albums tab in iTunes
  2. Navigate through your iTunes library to the album you want Genius to use as the basis for your discovery of new music. Click or tap it to reveal the songs on the album.

  3. On the right side of the screen are two options: Songs and In the Store. Click In the Store to contact the iTunes Store and download the Genius recommendations for this album.

    Using iTunes Genius to Discover New Music, step 1

The recommendations arrive in three options:

  • Top Songs are the most popular songs at the iTunes Store by the artist whose album you clicked to start this process.
  • Top Albums are the most popular albums by the artist whose album you clicked to start. Depending on how many albums the artist has and how popular the one you clicked is, you may see the album you own as one of the suggestions.
  • Recommended Songs are songs by other artists that you may like, based on the album you chose. Generally, these include bands that sound similar or work in similar genres to the album you chose.

Preview or Buy New Music in iTunes 8 Through iTunes 11

  1. Click the thumbnail image on any of the Genius suggestions to hear a 90-second preview. Click it again to stop the preview.

  2. To buy a song or album, click the price button next to the listing.

  3. Sign in to your iTunes account when prompted and download your purchase.

To view the iTunes Store listing for a song or album, click the text of the Genius suggestion, rather than the thumbnail image.