Use Apple Music Without iCloud Music Library in iTunes and on iOS

Apple Music has some 40 million tracks, and has become one of the leading music streaming services. The promise of Apple Music and iCloud Music Library was that you can mix your personal music library with the music in the cloud, and create a seamless listening experience.

In practice, this is problematic. iCloud Music Library screws up metadata, not only on your own files, but on its own files after you add them to your library. (Here’s one example of how this happens.) As such, I strongly recommend that anyone with a carefully tagged music library avoid using iCloud Music Library.

However, there’s nothing stopping you from using Apple Music. You’ll be able to play music from Apple’s cloud, but the only thing you won’t be able to do is add that music to your library, or note which tracks you “love.” This is a small price to pay for saving your music library from destruction.

All you need to do is turn on Apple Music, but not turn on iCloud Music Library. In iTunes, you do this in the General preferences:

Itunes general

And in iOS, go to Settings > Music, then turn on Apple Music, but don’t turn on iCloud Music Library.

Ios music settings

If either iTunes or your iOS device prompt you to turn on iCloud Music Library at some later date, just say no.

The Next Track, Episode #34 — The Cloud vs Syncing: Pros & Cons

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxWe take a look at the pros and cons of syncing music to your portable device versus using the cloud to store your music.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #34 — The Cloud vs Syncing: Pros & Cons.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at The Next Track website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast, to keep up to date with new episodes, and new articles from the website.

The Next Track, Episode #34 – The Cloud vs Syncing: Pros & Cons

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxWe take a look at the pros and cons of syncing music to your portable device versus using the cloud to store your music.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #34 — The Cloud vs Syncing: Pros & Cons.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at The Next Track website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast, to keep up to date with new episodes, and new articles from the website.

iCloud Music Library Automatically Downloading New Music to iOS Devices

If you read this website regularly, you know that I have a real aversion to iCloud Music Library. If you have a carefully curated music library, iCloud Music Library is likely to mess it up. But I write about this stuff for a living, and I do use Apple Music a bit. So instead of using my main music library with iTunes Match, iCloud Music Library, and Apple Music, I have a smaller library on my MacBook dedicated to these services.

That library got irreparably ruined after iCloud Music Library came into the picture, so I recently deleted almost everything that was not on Apple Music, replacing albums with their cloud equivalents. As such, there was hardly any music physically on the MacBook. This library syncs with my iPad and iPod touch, both of which I use to stream Apple Music at home.

This weekend, I wanted to add some music to the cloud, so I grabbed a bunch of files from my main library and added them to the MacBook’s library. I was very surprised to notice later that most of them had automatically downloaded to my iPad. The device had no music on it at all; now it shows 3.9 GB of music.

Ipad downloads

That’s a lot of music. I have a pretty fast internet connection, but downloading nearly 4 GB takes a while. I later noticed that the same music was downloaded to my iPod touch, for a total of about 8 GB. I don’t have a bandwidth cap, but if I did, I’d be mighty unhappy. Also, if I were using an iPhone, and it was set to allow cellular downloads, I’d be irate. You may want to set an iPhone to use cellular downloads, thinking that you’ll only be downloading an album or two occasionally, not using up all your data quickly. And one side effect of this is that your iOS devices will delete their batteries quickly, as they download all this music.

Note that the handful of albums that had been in my MacBook’s iTunes library before I cleaned it up didn’t download to my iOS devices; only those albums I added over the weekend did, and not all of them. I see no reason why some of them downloaded and others didn’t.

This is clearly a bug, and it seems to have started when iOS 9.2 was released. A thread on Apple’s support forum shows that this is affecting a number of users, and I’ve corresponded with others who have seen the same thing. However, these automatic downloads only affect iOS devices; if you use iCloud Music Library with two computers, adding files to one computer does not cause them to be downloaded to another computer.

This morning, as a test, I deleted all the local music on my iPod touch, and deleted some of the albums I added recently. I then re-added some of those albums. A few minutes after I started my test, I saw that music was downloading to both the iPod touch and the iPad.

When I later added two more albums, and checked the iPod touch, they had started downloading already:

Ipod touch downloads

However, none of the older music is re-downloading.

Users on Apple’s support forum say that this doesn’t fix the issue, and that only deleting all music added since the iOS 9.2 upgrade resolves the problem. Of course, this makes iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library somewhat useless, other than for Apple Music tracks.

If you’re seeing the same thing, weigh in in the comments describing your specific problem.

Update: One day later, and I’m not seeing any music re-download to my iOS devices. After it downloads the first time, I delete it in the Settings app, and it doesn’t download again. Others are not seeing this exact behavior; for many people, new music continues to download. So I’m not sure what is different between my situation and that of some other people.

Apple Music Annoyance: “iCloud Status: Waiting” and Missing Matched Tracks

I use iTunes Match, iCloud Music Library, and Apple Music on my MacBook, sine I don’t trust these services with my main music library. As such, I have a test library, with a subset of my music, along with a few hundred albums and playlists I’ve added from Apple Music.

I’ve been cleaning this up recently, removing many of my ripped and matched/uploaded tracks, and replacing them with stuff from Apple Music. I’ve found a disturbing trend with much of my uploaded music: a lot of it is not available, and its iCloud status is Waiting. It’s not possible to play or download these tracks.

If I select a track, and press Command-I, the File tab tells me this:


And when I view my library by album, I can see whole sections of my library that are MIA.

Icloud status waiting

I’ve tried refreshing iCloud Music Library; you can do this by choosing File > Library > Update iCloud Music Library. But this doesn’t fix the issue.

I note that this is only a problem for uploaded tracks (i.e., not matched tracks), such as music by The Beatles, live albums by The Grateful Dead which aren’t on the iTunes Store, my Bill Nelson collection, and more. In other words, iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library are working less well with uploaded music than before.

And this isn’t just a problem in iTunes; on my iOS devices that use Apple Music, I see the same thing.


If I tap one of these songs in iOS, I get an alert:

Missing alert

So, whole swathes of my iTunes library are missing and unavailable. After all the time I spent initially uploading these tracks, they’re just gone. Huh.

I wish I had a solution for this. If anyone has managed to resolve this problem, post your solution in the comments.

Apple Quietly Increases iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library Limits Above 25,000 Tracks

Apple has increased the 25,000-track limit to iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library. The company has not made any announcements yet, but I have heard from several people who have finally been able to add more than 25,000 tracks to their iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library libraries.

Here is the status bar for one user’s iTunes library; this person only has a few dozen tracks purchased from the iTunes Store, the rest are CD rips or tracks added from Apple Music:

Itunes match2

I’ve heard from others, on Twitter and by email, that they, too, have been able to add more than 25,000 tracks.

With iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library, all tracks in your library are counted against the limit with the exception of iTunes Store purchases. So any tracks you add to your library that you’ve ripped from CDs, or that you add from Apple Music, count against the limit.

Eddy Cue said, earlier this year, that Apple would increase the track limit to 100,000. If anyone has tried to put that many tracks in the cloud, please post in the comments. And anyone else who has more than 25,000 tracks, post the number of tracks that you’ve matched or uploaded.

This one gets a “finally.”

iCloud Music Library Annoyances

I recently wrote about a number of Apple Music annoyances; issues you may see when using Apple’s new streaming service. But there’s another source of headaches in the latest version of iTunes: iCloud Music Library. What’s going on with iCloud Music Library?

First, you need to understand exactly what iCloud Music Library is and a little about how it works. This cloud storage feature includes iTunes Match as well as the part of Apple Music that stores music you add to your personal iTunes library. If you have an iTunes Match subscription, then iCloud Music Library replicates its features. If not, if you’re only using Apple Music, on a free trial or a paid subscription, iCloud Music Library manages the music and playlists that you add to your iTunes library from Apple Music.

One source of confusion for iTunes Match subscribers is the fact that you no longer see the term iTunes Match anywhere in iTunes. While you’re still paying for this service — $25 a year — be aware that iTunes is not mentioning it anymore.

There are some problems you may encounter with iCloud Music Library. Here’s a look at some of the most annoying iCloud Music Library issues, and if possible, how to fix them.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

What to Do if Your iCloud Music Library Disappears

I’ve been hearing from readers, and from people in my Twitter feed, about a curious problem. All of a sudden, some people’s iTunes libraries disappear. Maybe not all of it; just the music they’ve added to their iCloud Music Library from Apple Music.

It turns out that, in some cases, all you need to do is check a box to get it back. Go to iTunes > Preferences, and click General. If the box next to iCloud Music Library isn’t checked, check it.

Apple music off

It’s unclear why this setting gets turned off for some users, but reports suggest that it’s not an uncommon problem. Fortunately, the fix is simple.

How to Use Apple Music Without iCloud Music Library

iCloud Music Library, which is independent of yet complementary to Apple Music, has caused serious problems for people with iTunes music libraries. In some cases, it changes artwork; in others, it added DRM to files in the cloud. There are some reasons for this, but there are also situations where it screws things up without any known reason.

Yesterday, Jim Dalrymple of The Loop said that “Apple Music is a nightmare and I’m done with it”. I’d come to more or less the same conclusion; not so much about Apple Music, but rather about iCloud Music Library.

I had really high hopes for Apple Music. The idea of integrating what’s in the cloud with what’s in my iTunes library sounded great. Unfortunately, Apple simply isn’t careful enough in the way it treats the music you own, and my music library is sacred.

I’m in a situation where I need to use this feature, because of all I write about iTunes. Just as with iTunes Match, which was launched in 2011, I have to understand how it works to be able to explain it. As such, mainly because of the size of my music library – iTunes Match, like iCloud Music Library, has a hard limit of 25,000 tracks – I set up a test library on my MacBook Pro. This allows me to use it without using my full music library. (Since I wrote this article, Apple increased the limit to 100,000 tracks.)

In some ways, this has been a blessing. There have been lots of issues with iTunes Match over the years, and none have affected my full music library. The same is true with iCloud Music Library. iCloud Music Library has caused havoc with that test library, but it hasn’t affected the integrity of my carefully curated and tagged 70,000 track music library.

Together with this MacBook Pro, I use an iPod touch as a test device, both for music-related features, and for beta versions of iOS. Right now, I have a brand new iPod touch, and I’m using that with iCloud Music Library, and with Apple Music. With these two devices, I can use all the features of Apple Music, just not when I’m out on the road with my iPhone. That’s fine; I sync music from my iTunes library to my iPhone, so I’ll always have music. I’d like to have more, but, whatever.

You can use Apple Music without turning on iCloud Music Library. In iTunes’ General preferences, you’ll see two checkboxes, one for Apple Music and one for iCloud Music Library.

Apple music off

If you check the first one – Show Apple Music – you’ll be able to stream music from Apple Music, access the For You and New sections, listen to Apple Music Radio. If, however, you check the second one, iCloud Music Library, then you’ll also be able to add music from the Apple Music catalog to your library, but your library runs the risk of being sliced and diced, and the consequences can be problematic. (There are similar settings on iOS, in Settings > Music.)

iCloud Music Library causes problems with existing libraries. If you don’t have any music in your iTunes library – which is the case, most likely, for hundreds of millions of users – then there will be no problems if you turn it on. If you do have music, however, the matching process can result in weirdness. Not just tracks that end up in DRMed versions, but tracks matched to different versions of the same songs. You, too, can use Apple Music, without turning on iCloud Music Library. You’ll lose the ability to add music to your library, and to save it for offline listening, but your library will be safe.

I’ve actually been enjoying Apple Music, for the most part, listening, so far, to music I had on LP in the 1970s and never bought on CD, checking out some jazz musicians I’m unfamiliar with, and listening to lots of music by Morton Feldman, John Cage, and other experimental composers. But there’s no way I’m going to let iCloud Music Library get anywhere near my iTunes library.

So, I use an interim solution. Not everyone has another computer they can use to store their library, or another iOS device to play it back. It’s a shame I have to go to this much trouble to use Apple Music. It’s a shame it doesn’t just work.

Learn how to get the most out of iTunes with my ebook, Take Control of iTunes 12: