Here’s Why Apple’s iOS Music App Should Not Load Artist Photos

Apple’s iOS Music app no longer contents itself to just sync music from iTunes, or download music from the cloud; it gets in the way of your identifying your music easily. Whenever you sync your iOS device, it connects to the iTunes Store to download artist photos and other information. (And this seems to be the cause of some sync problems.) While Apple thinks this is a good idea, there’s a very good reason why it’s not.

ArtistsIf I look at the artists on my iPhone, I see a lot of names where an album cover is used to illustrate that artist, but I also see lots of photos. The iTunes Store has photos of many artists which it then feeds to iOS devices. Curiously, some artists, such as The Rolling Stones or The Beatles, don’t get these photos. But many artists do. To the left are some examples.

The problem is that these photos are tiny. And I don’t really recognize most of them. I can’t see the faces of the members of The Clash; the Coldplay photo is full of shadowy faces; I’ve never known whet the guys in New Order looked like; I think there’s a woman in the Kate Bush photo, but it’s hard to see. And while the guys in the Pink Floyd photo have 70s haircuts, they could be the Allmann Brothers for all I know. Perhaps the worst is the Ultravox photo. I’m a big fan of early Ultravox, with John Foxx, but I don’t really care for the band after Midge Ure replaced Foxx on vocals. I have a feeling that the photo might be of Midge Ure, long after he joined the band, but he’s not on the albums on my iPhone. (I actually did see that incarnation of Ultravox live, back on the Vienna tour, and all I remember was that the band members were all wearing those long, dark, new romantic coats while playing.)

On the other hard, I’d recognize any of the Ultravox album covers, or my New Order artwork, and certainly Pink Floyd’s covers. Adding artist photos is good if you can see the artist, but Apple’s photos are designed to be displayed in iTunes, not as tiny thumbnails in the Music app.

I saw that another iOS music app, Vox, does the same thing; it pulls artist photos from its server, instead of showing album artwork. As such, many of my artists have no photos, when I view them in that app, since it doesn’t replace missing photos with album artwork.

Few people are able to identify all the artists on their iOS devices by these pixel-challenged photos. If Apple really thinks this is a good idea, they should at least offer the option to use artwork instead of photos. And for third-party apps; this is an even bigger mistake, because they don’t have anywhere near enough photos for all the possible artists people have on their devices.

30 thoughts on “Here’s Why Apple’s iOS Music App Should Not Load Artist Photos

  1. I leave automatic search on in an attempt to let Apple help me filling some artworks, but few of them are correct, and almost every time iTunes would just tell me “nothing is found”.

  2. I leave automatic search on in an attempt to let Apple help me filling some artworks, but few of them are correct, and almost every time iTunes would just tell me “nothing is found”.

  3. I absolutely agree with this post!!! I hate the default artist images more than I have words to express. Again, I’m sure it’s a feature intended for people whose libraries are riddled with missing artwork, but it’s incredibly annoying for those of us who curate carefully.

    It would be a bit of extra work, but I would be fine with the feature, if they allowed us to replace the default artist image in iTunes, either by choosing from existing album covers, or pasting a picture of our choice.

    I also want this ability for genre images. I think genres are vastly underrated. It takes about the same time to set genres properly at the track level as it does to make playlists, and yet they make far more intrinsic sense. People have “rock ballad” playlists, where that kind of thing could be handled by the genre tags, and is in fact more recognisable to Siri that way.

    While we’re at it, I think Apple has shown us that it wants to develop the iPad in response to flagging sales. I think giving iPads the ability to edit metadata in the way iTunes can is LONG overdue. Changes could be synced back to iTunes, and it’s especially useful for users of the iCloud music library. Sitting there reclined on the sofa and listening via AirPlay seems like the IDEAL time to finesse the library metadata. One also shouldn’t have to buy an Apple laptop in order to be able to do this kind of thing away from a desktop computer.

    • aww. am i really the only one who lkes seeing the artists face?? ;-;
      my problem is actually that for some of my artists it doesnt give me a photo like BTS, Twenty One Pilots or Marina and the Diamonds.
      *sigh* forever alone… ;;;;;-;;;;;

      • Just give it time I uploaded a Michael Jackson music a while back and it took ages for my device to sync it’s picture and same goes for Mariah Carey, just give time and hopefully Apple will have an image for those music’s

      • For BTS you have to use the Hangul (방탄소년단) for the Artist thumbnail to show up, or that’s at least what I found ^-^

    • “It would be a bit of extra work, but I would be fine with the feature, if they allowed us to replace the default artist image in iTunes, either by choosing from existing album covers, or pasting a picture of our choice.”

      Yes, this is a very good suggestion. Sometimes I have photographed an artist by myself or by somebody else and it would be nice to add this selfmade artwork to the artists in my music library.

  4. I absolutely agree with this post!!! I hate the default artist images more than I have words to express. Again, I’m sure it’s a feature intended for people whose libraries are riddled with missing artwork, but it’s incredibly annoying for those of us who curate carefully.

    It would be a bit of extra work, but I would be fine with the feature, if they allowed us to replace the default artist image in iTunes, either by choosing from existing album covers, or pasting a picture of our choice.

    I also want this ability for genre images. I think genres are vastly underrated. It takes about the same time to set genres properly at the track level as it does to make playlists, and yet they make far more intrinsic sense. People have “rock ballad” playlists, where that kind of thing could be handled by the genre tags, and is in fact more recognisable to Siri that way.

    While we’re at it, I think Apple has shown us that it wants to develop the iPad in response to flagging sales. I think giving iPads the ability to edit metadata in the way iTunes can is LONG overdue. Changes could be synced back to iTunes, and it’s especially useful for users of the iCloud music library. Sitting there reclined on the sofa and listening via AirPlay seems like the IDEAL time to finesse the library metadata. One also shouldn’t have to buy an Apple laptop in order to be able to do this kind of thing away from a desktop computer.

    • aww. am i really the only one who lkes seeing the artists face?? ;-;
      my problem is actually that for some of my artists it doesnt give me a photo like BTS, Twenty One Pilots or Marina and the Diamonds.
      *sigh* forever alone… ;;;;;-;;;;;

      • Just give it time I uploaded a Michael Jackson music a while back and it took ages for my device to sync it’s picture and same goes for Mariah Carey, just give time and hopefully Apple will have an image for those music’s

      • For BTS you have to use the Hangul (방탄소년단) for the Artist thumbnail to show up, or that’s at least what I found ^-^

    • “It would be a bit of extra work, but I would be fine with the feature, if they allowed us to replace the default artist image in iTunes, either by choosing from existing album covers, or pasting a picture of our choice.”

      Yes, this is a very good suggestion. Sometimes I have photographed an artist by myself or by somebody else and it would be nice to add this selfmade artwork to the artists in my music library.

  5. Sometimes the photo will be of a completely different person. I often see photos of a Japanese dude when browsing music from singer-songwriter, Meiko.

  6. Sometimes the photo will be of a completely different person. I often see photos of a Japanese dude when browsing music from singer-songwriter, Meiko.

  7. I just don’t understand why Apple do this and it’s one of the reasons I don’t use the Music app on my iPhone. They offer the Get Album Artwork feature in iTunes (although I use a more manual method) so why not use that artwork in the Music app? It’s ridiculous. By the way, I use the Smartplayer app (http://www.smartplayerapp.com) mostly, but I also have Ecoute on my phone.

  8. I just don’t understand why Apple do this and it’s one of the reasons I don’t use the Music app on my iPhone. They offer the Get Album Artwork feature in iTunes (although I use a more manual method) so why not use that artwork in the Music app? It’s ridiculous. By the way, I use the Smartplayer app (http://www.smartplayerapp.com) mostly, but I also have Ecoute on my phone.

  9. I absloutely DETEST these artist photos that get forced onto my ipod by Apple. I now turn off my wi-fi when synching my device just to avoid them. Today I bought a Samsung Galaxy phone – my first non Apple tech purchase in years. I am done with them.

  10. I absloutely DETEST these artist photos that get forced onto my ipod by Apple. I now turn off my wi-fi when synching my device just to avoid them. Today I bought a Samsung Galaxy phone – my first non Apple tech purchase in years. I am done with them.

  11. I think Apple is differentiating itself from the pack and I love this artist photos. Every time I’m on the road and people look at what you listening they are wowed and wish their phone could do the same. So forget the rest that’s why apple is the leading brand in the world. Keep it up Apple I love this artist photo views, no problem on my end

  12. I think Apple is differentiating itself from the pack and I love this artist photos. Every time I’m on the road and people look at what you listening they are wowed and wish their phone could do the same. So forget the rest that’s why apple is the leading brand in the world. Keep it up Apple I love this artist photo views, no problem on my end

  13. I think there are 2 things very clear here:-

    First of all Apple should make such displays optional, so e.g. you could turn off artist images entirely.

    Secondly, they should allow the user to use their own images if they choose – and that goes for Album Artwork too.

  14. I think there are 2 things very clear here:-

    First of all Apple should make such displays optional, so e.g. you could turn off artist images entirely.

    Secondly, they should allow the user to use their own images if they choose – and that goes for Album Artwork too.

  15. When sync an song from my laptop to my iPad and click on music app several time to see artist photo but it didn’t load even network is connected

  16. When sync an song from my laptop to my iPad and click on music app several time to see artist photo but it didn’t load even network is connected

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