Initially, Apple’s biggest challenge was that there was very little Atmos content available. In 2017, REM’s “Automatic for the People” became the first album to be mixed using Atmos, and in the following years, several notable Atmos albums from Elton John, Queen, and the Beatles showcased the format possibility.
To achieve its broader goals, Apple needs to make Atmos content both actionable and rich. It first partnered with Dolby to encourage studios to upgrade to the format. There are now approximately 800 officially recognized Dolby Atmos studios in more than 40 countries, a 350 percent increase in just two years. (Dolby estimates that there are double or triple the number of other studios capable of delivering music in Atmos.)
Apple Music also develops wish lists of artists, albums, and tracks and submits them to labels along with funding and deadlines to help quickly expand the library of tracks available in Atmos. Over the past few years, this effort to remake 50 years of popular music has heralded a boom in the work of engineers and mixers who suddenly find themselves in the bulk business of the format.
Wood was initially dismissive of learning to work in Atmos, saying he changed his mind once he realized its rise was inevitable. “Obviously, the records I make are going to be mixed in Atmos,” he says, “and if I don’t learn how to do it, someone else will, and I’m giving up that control.” Wood’s first The first Atmos mix was for Liz Phair’s “Soberish,” an album he originally produced. “Also, I realized that learning would pay off,” he added.
While contemporary pop and hip-hop artists were quick to adopt the new version of the format, convincing established rock artists to join the Atmos fray proved more challenging. “The first six months, these artists had a lot of questions,” Schusser said.
Some groups, like Doors, embraced the format, overhauling their entire catalog in Atmos at once; others, like Fleetwood Mac, were more cautious, working one album at a time. Still, more and more top traditional artists are putting out Atmos mixes with increasing frequency, with recent releases including Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” and the Beach Boys’ “The Dark Side of the Moon.” Pet Sounds” and other landmark albums.