Can’t Enable iCloud Music Library on Your iOS Device? Try This

I got a new iPhone 8 Plus on Friday. I set up the device by transferring data from my backup, and everything worked fine. But there was one feature I wanted to turn on on the new iPhone that I hadn’t used before: iCloud Music Library.

I have a very large music library. And I like listening to my music from my carefully curated and tagged collection. But it’s always been a compromise to sync music to my iPhone. I have such a large library that I can only sync a subset of the music. That’s fine; I don’t listen to that much music on the go. But it’s a lot of work to keep adding and removing music.

While I don’t listen to music away from home that much, I previously had another limit. My phone plan only offered 750 MB of data. I could have paid for more, but I didn’t need it, and plans with more data were fairly expensive from my provider. But a few months ago, my phone provider had an offer: for a few pounds more per month, I could get 8 GB of data.

So I had two choices with the new iPhone. I could either pay for 256 GB storage, or I could settle for the base storage amount of 64 GB (which is finally a fair size). I opted to save the money and use iCloud Music Library.

Note that I haven’t merged my music library with iCloud Music Library; I have a test library that I’ve maintained for many years, starting when iTunes Match was released, on my laptop. So I now can access that library on my iPhone, and my iPad, and I can add and rate music on my iPhone, and listen to music from that library.

So, with the new iPhone, I went to turn on iCloud Music Library. About five minutes later, I saw this:

Icloud music cant enable

If you Google this issue, you’ll see lots of “solutions;” most merely suggesting that you keep trying until it works. Well, I tried, and tried, a dozen times; it didn’t work. I called Apple, frustrated, and ended up having three different calls with three advisors, finally reaching a senior advisor. They didn’t know what to do. Since it was a brand new device, it was clear that restoring it wouldn’t help.

While awaiting to hear back from Apple next week, I had a flash of inspiration yesterday. I knew this wasn’t a network problem (the suggestion from Apple advisor #1), or a problem that could be fixed by force restarting the phone (advisor #2), but it had to have something to do with the music database on the device. I’ve seen similar problems in the past that could be resolved by deleting that database; something that you need special software to do.

So I thought I’d try something else. I tried download a purchased album. After the album was on my device, I went back to Settings > Music and tried turning on iCloud Music Library. The process takes several minutes, but I could see that it was happening differently when I went to the Playlists entry in the Music app. There was a progress bar. It was moving slowly, but it did move.

After about ten minutes, I had my iCloud Music Library on my iPhone.

What I think happened is that there was something wonky in the music database, and that downloading an album – even a song might have worked – cleared or fixed it. So, if you can’t enable iCloud Music Library, try downloading a purchased track – if you don’t have any, spend a buck and buy a song – and see if that helps. If it does, please post a comment below so I know if my solution is helping anyone else.