How to Use iTunes Genius to Discover New Music

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

Part of what makes Genius so smart is that it can see the listening and buying habits of all iTunes users running Genius. By analyzing these habits — things like how songs are rated and favorited, what other artists are often liked by people who like similar artists, etc. — Genius can make well-educated guesses about what you'll like. In order to have Genius suggest new music to you, just need to follow these simple steps.

iTunes Genius Suggestions in iTunes 12

screenshot: Apple Music suggestions
Apple Music suggests similar music to your selection.

Genius Suggestions have changed pretty dramatically in recent versions of iTunes. Suggestions used to appear on most screens within iTunes (as shown in the next three sections). As Apple has changed from emphasizing the sale of songs at the iTunes Store to flat-fee, all-you-can-eat streaming via Apple Music, Genius Suggestions have mostly disappeared from iTunes. 

To get recommendations for music in recent versions of iTunes, you have two options:

  1. Click the ... button next to a song or album in your library.
  2. If you're an Apple Music subscriber, click Show in Apple Music and skip to step 4.
  3. To buy music, click Show in iTunes Store and skip to step 5.
  4. In Apple Music, scroll to the bottom of the 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.
  5. In the iTunes Store, scroll to the bottom of the screen to see the Listeners Also Bought section, which shows other songs purchased by people who have also bought the song or album you're viewing.

iTunes 8-11: Using iTunes Genius to Discover New Music

Using iTunes Genius to Discover New Music, step 1

The traditional Genius Suggestions feature is available in iTunes 8-11. It requires that you have Genius turned on (which means having an iTunes account and being signed into it). While iTunes 8 is the minimum to use Genius, the instructions, and images in this article use iTunes 11 and higher.

Next, click on the Album view (select Library in the top menu in iTunes, then Album in the left-hand sidebar). This will show your iTunes library as a series of album covers, alphabetized based on the name of the artist.

Navigate through your iTunes library to the album you want Genius to use as the basis for your discovery of new music. This will reveal all the songs on the album.

At the right side of the section that just opened, you should see two options: Songs and In the Store. Click in In the Store. This contacts the iTunes Store and downloads the Genius recommendations for this album.

iTunes 8-11: Anatomy of iTunes Genius Recommendations for New Music

Using iTunes Genius to Discover New Music, step 2

Next to the album you already own, you'll see three columns of new options: Top Songs, Top Albums, and Recommended Songs.

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, 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/artist you chose.

iTunes 8-11: Using the iTunes Genius to Preview and Buy Music

Using iTunes Genius to Discover New Music, step 3

You can preview and buy songs and albums directly in your iTunes library using Genius.

To hear 90-second previews of any of the recommended songs, click the small image of the album art to the left of the song name. The song will play and the icon will turn into a blue square. Simply click it again to stop the preview.

To buy the song or album, just click the price button next to the listing. You may be asked to sign into your iTunes account, but once that's done, your purchase will begin to download.

To view the iTunes Store listing for a song, album, or musician, simply click the text for the suggestion.