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 for Atmos, and over the next few years, several notable Atmos releases – from Elton John, Queen and the Beatles – demonstrated the possibilities of the format.
To achieve its broader objectives, Apple needed to make Atmos content both viable and plentiful. It started by partnering with Dolby to encourage recording studios to upgrade to the format. There are now nearly 800 officially recognized Dolby Atmos studios in more than 40 countries, a 350 percent increase in just two years. (Dolby estimates that Atmos has two or three times the number of other studios capable of delivering music.)
Apple Music also creates wishlists of artists, albums and tracks and presents them to record labels with funding and deadlines to help quickly expand the library of titles available in Atmos. Over the years, this attempt to reform 50 years of pop music has led to a multitude of jobs for engineers and mixers, who have suddenly found themselves doing volume business in the format.
Wood was initially dismissive of learning to work in Atmos, saying that he changed his mind after realizing the inevitability of its rise. “It was clear that the records I made were going to be mixed into Atmos,” he said, “and if I didn’t learn how to do it, someone else would, and I’d give up that control.” Wood’s first Atmos mix was for Liz Phair’s “Soberish”, an album he originally produced. “And, at the same time, I realized there would be a great payoff in learning,” he said.
While contemporary pop and hip-hop artists were quick to adopt the format for new releases, persuading veteran rock acts to enter the Atmos fray proved more of a challenge. “The first six months, those artists had a lot of questions,” Schusser said.
Some groups, such as the Doors, adopted the format in Atmos, overhauling their entire catalog in one go; Others, such as Fleetwood Mac, have proceeded more cautiously, doing one album at a time. More and more though, top legacy artists are putting out Atmos mixes with increasing regularity, with recent releases that include landmark albums like Pink Floyd.“the dark side of the Moon” and the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds.”