How to Use iTunes Genius to Discover New Music

Make playlists and find new music that complements your existing music

shuffle music on iphone

Aeriform & Maria Teijeiro / Ikon Images / Getty Images

The iTunes Genius feature can do a lot of great things with your music. For one, it can make playlists of songs that sound good together using the music you already have in your iTunes library. If you want to expand your musical horizons, Genius can help you discover new music based on the music you already have.

Part of what makes Genius so smart is that it can see the listening and buying habits of all iTunes users who use Genius. By analyzing these habits — things like how songs are rated and favorited and which other artists are frequently liked by people who like similar artists — Genius makes well-educated guesses about 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:

  1. Open iTunes on your computer.
  2. Click File in the menu bar
  3. Select the Library tab.
  4. Choose Turn on Genius or Update Genius if you turned Genius on but are instructed to update.
Path to turn on or update Genius in iTunes 12

Generating Genius Playlists in iTunes 12

Genius suggestions changed dramatically in iTunes 12. Suggestions used to appear on most screens in recent versions of iTunes. As Apple has shifted from emphasizing the sale of songs at the iTunes Store to flat-fee, all-you-can-eat streaming via Apple Music, Genius suggestions have taken a diminished role. However, if you know how, you can still generate Genius playlists and find new music based on a single song or album. Here's how to make a Genius playlist:

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

  2. Right-click the selected song and click Genius Suggestions followed by Save as Playlist in the pop-up menu.

    iTunes path to Genius playlists
  3. View the list of songs in the playlist screen. Delete any you don't want to include in the playlist by right-clicking the title and selecting Remove From Playlist.

    Genius playlist showing deletion option

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

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

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 already own.

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

  2. Click Show in Apple Music.

    Find similar music in Apple Music
  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've set up the feature, you can also see which of your Apple Music friends have listened to the song or album.

    Apple Music selections similar to chosen song
  4. Click on 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 having an iTunes account and being signed into it.

Discover New Music in iTunes 8 Through iTunes 11

To discover new music using Genius:

  1. Click on the Album view by selecting Library in the top menu in iTunes, then Album in the left sidebar. This shows your iTunes library as a series of album covers, alphabetized based on the name of the artist.

  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 all the songs on the album.

  3. At the right side of the screen are two options: Songs and In the Store. Click In the Store. This contacts the iTunes Store and downloads the Genius recommendations for this album. The recommendations arrive in three columns of options: Top Songs, Top Albums, and Recommended Songs.

    Using iTunes Genius to Discover New Music, step 1
  • 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 already own as one of your suggestions.
  • Recommended Songs are songs by other artists that you may like, based on the album you chose. Generally, they 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.