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 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.”

iTunes Match Renewal Reminder Ignores Apple Music

I got an email from Apple today reminding me that my iTunes Match subscription is due to auto-renew in two weeks. Interestingly, it says a lot about using iTunes, storing music in the cloud, and listening to iTunes Radio, but makes no mention of Apple Music.

Itunes match renewal

This email is most likely the same one that was used before Apple Music was introduced. It mentions a feature that no longer exists under the same name (iTunes Radio), and neglects to mention one of the big advantages of using iTunes Match: that music you re-download from iCloud Music Library with an iTunes Match subscription does not have DRM. In fact, it assumes that the user is using only iTunes Match, and not Apple Music.

It’s true that you can use iTunes Match without Apple Music, but iTunes Match is now part of iCloud Music Library. This is one of Apple’s more confusing product matrices; once you’ve turned on iTunes Match in iTunes, the feature is nowhere to be seen.

Oh, and that first sentence; the bit that says “Keep all your music in the cloud…”? Apple still hasn’t increased the track limit from 25,000 to 100,000 as they have promised, so I can’t keep all my music in the cloud…

Where Is the New 100K Track Limit for iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library? Where is Apple Music for Android?

Just like iTunes Match, iCloud Music Library – which you use if you subscribe to iTunes Match, or to Apple Music – has a limit of 25,000 tracks. Back in June, Eddy Cue tweeted that they were “working to get 100K for iOS 9.”

Eddy cue apple music limit

Apple also announced that an Android app would be released in the fall.

For now, we’re still waiting on both of these. I wonder where they are. I know a lot of music lovers are waiting for the increased track limit, as 25,000 tracks isn’t really a lot if you’ve ripped lots of CDs and bought lots of downloads over the years. As for the Android app, it could help what seems to be a morose uptake of Apple Music.

How iTunes Match and Apple Music Work Together

If you have an iTunes Match subscription, and you’ve updated to the latest version of iTunes (12.2), you may have had a bit of a surprise. There is, actually, scant mention of iTunes Match in the iTunes interface, and it can be a bit confusing trying to figure out how iTunes Match works in the new iTunes landscape.

If you’ve signed up for Apple Music, then it can be even more confusing, since Apple Music also matches tracks the way iTunes Match does. Here’s an overview of how these two services work in iTunes and on iOS, and how they work together.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

The Real Difference Between iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library: DRM

The whole iTunes Match and Apple Music thing is confusing. Apple says they are “independent but complementary,” and, on first glance, they look quite similar. But when you look closely, they are very different.

Both match your iTunes library and store your purchases. Both allow you to access these files, and listen to them, on multiple devices. But with iTunes Match, when you download a matched or uploaded file, you get either the iTunes Store matched copy, or the copy that iTunes uploaded of your original file.

When you match and download files from iCloud Music Library (without having an iTunes Match subscription), however, you get files with DRM; the same kind of files you get when you download files from Apple Music for offline listening. (These files should have DRM, so you can’t just download and keep all the music you want for $10 a month.) But if you’re using Apple Music, and not iTunes Match, Apple doesn’t make a distinction between which files were originally yours, and which you downloaded for offline listening from Apple Music.

This means that if you’ve matched your library with Apple Music and iCloud Music Library, you need to keep backups of your original files. If not, you’ll end up with files that you can’t play without an Apple Music subscription.

So think carefully if you plan to use iCloud Music Library.

Update: iTunes Match wasn’t working for me earlier today. It has started working now, and it’s even more of a mess.

Here’s an album that I ripped, and that was in the cloud through iTunes Match.

Eno drop

Previously, all the tracks showed as Matched. Now, most of them show iCloud Status as Apple Music. If I download one of them, and look at the file, it is a protected file with DRM (FairPlay version 2 is the version of Apple’s DRM scheme):

Slip dip

Update 2: It’s gotten even worse for me. I’ve tried signing out of my account, and signing back in again, but I still see many of my tracks showing the iCloud Status as Apple Music. And this is now also affecting purchased tracks.

In response to a comment, I copied a download, which shows that it has FairPlay DRM, to another Mac, and here’s what I see when I try to play the file in iTunes:

Drmed file

Where Has iTunes Match Gone?

Apple Music uses the iCloud Music Library, which works – sort of – like iTunes Match. But if you have an iTunes Match subscription, you may still want to use that service, either on a single device or computer, or on all of them. There is one reason why you should: when you match music with iCloud Music Library, and then download files, your downloads have DRM. When you match music with iTunes Match, the downloads are DRM-free.

This means that if you match or upload your own rips to iCloud Music Library, you should really keep backups; you may not be able to get DRM-free originals later.

But the big problem is that iTunes Match is now MIA. Having turned off iCloud Music Library on my Mac, I no longer see any mention of iTunes Match, nor do I see the music that is in my iTunes Match library. A number of users of Apple’s support forums concur with this.

Is anyone seeing iTunes Match? I don’t know if this is a temporary glitch, or if this is a “feature.” Apple has said that iTunes Match and Apple Music are complementary and independent…

Update: There is an entry in the Account menu, if you’re not signed into your iTunes Store account. If you are, however, there’s no way to activate iTunes Match.

iTunes Match Melting Down for Some Users in Runup to Apple Music Launch

As Apple tweaks the iTunes Store backend in preparation for the launch of Apple Music on June 30, many users are reporting serious problems with iTunes Match. Problems downloading or streaming tracks, albums being split, artists appearing multiple times, duplicate playlists, and more.

Match multiple artists

A number of users have posted in Apple’s support forums, in a thread entitled Has iTunes match gone haywire?, and another, Tunes match – on iPhone iPad split albums and wrong album artists. I’ve also received emails from users seeing the same issues.

Apple is certainly making changes to the way iTunes Match works. They have said that iTunes Match will continue to be available after the launch of Apple Music, and that the two are “independent but complementary.” I’m not sure exactly what this means, but it’s obvious that there are many iTunes Match users who do not want to use Apple Music, and rather continue to stream their own music from the cloud without paying $10 a month.

In the meantime, there’s not much to do. This is certainly one of the problems with iTunes Match; it has issues from time to time, messing up your music library, or even being unavailable. Let’s hope Apple can get it fixed soon.

How I Would fix iTunes, Part 4: Increase the iTunes Match Track Limit

(This is one of a series of articles looking at elements of iTunes that I think need fixing. I’ll choose one element for each article, and offer a solution. See all articles in this series. If you have any particular gripes about what needs to be fixed in iTunes, drop me a line.)

When iTunes Match was first released in November, 2011, people already judged Apple’s 25,000 track limit (for match tracks; purchased tracks are unlimited) to be stingy. Sure, not everyone has a large music library, but the 1% of iTunes users who do are the prime demographic for this service, and they were immediately judged nebula non grata.

Itunes match limit

More than three years later, that limit is becoming a problem for many music lovers. If you have a lot of CDs, or buy a lot of music, it’s pretty easy to hit that limit, as you rip and match more of your CD collection. It’s especially problematic for those with large classical libraries; many classical box sets contain 50 or more CDs, swelling the size of a music library very quickly.

Apple needs to increase this limit, if only to keep up with the competition. Google Play Music has just increased their limits from 20,000 to 50,000 tracks, and it’s free. Amazon’s Cloud Player lets you store 250,000 tracks, for the same price ($25) as iTunes Match.

Arguably, these are different types of services. iTunes Match matches your music, so you don’t have to upload it all; if I had to upload my music library, it would take years. And iTunes Match updates quickly from iTunes, whenever you add or delete music. Amazon and Google are merely music lockers, where you upload all your music, and play it when you want.

Apple clearly needs to increase the iTunes Match limit. Unless they’re planning on dropping the service, they need to follow the needs of users, and more and more people have been emailing me recently asking how they can deal with an iTunes Match library that is approaching the limit. (It’s not always simple to deal with.) Perhaps Apple can charge more for a higher limit; or perhaps they can just increase the current limit. Or maybe they could finally allow users to choose which of their tracks get uploaded to iTunes Match. But 25,000 tracks, which may be a lot for the majority of users, isn’t enough for serious music fans.

What Happens When You Get to 25,000 Tracks on iTunes Match

Apple’s iTunes Match is a $25 a year service that lets you match tracks from your iTunes library with music in the iTunes Store, store your music in the cloud, and stream or download it to different devices. It can be practical for people who want access to their music on the go, as long as they don’t have too much music. My iTunes library is currently around 70,000 tracks, so I’m nebula non grata; I have a second iTunes library that is almost as large. So iTunes Match doesn’t work for me.

That 25,000 track limit is a brick wall. When you get there, strange things happen to iTunes Match. I was reminded of this when Dave Hamilton tweeted something today.

Screen Shot 2015 01 27 at 3 16 16 PM

First, Dave didn’t actually go above 25,000 tracks. While the iTunes window tells him there are 25,003, he told me he has about 500 purchased tracks. iTunes doesn’t count them against your limit.

So in another 500 tracks or so, he will hit that wall. When that moment arrives, iTunes Match can act very strangely. Here are some of the things that users have reported.

  • iTunes Match may no longer upload new tracks, even after a user has deleted tracks from the cloud to get under the 25,000 track limit.
  • iTunes can seem to update iTunes Match without any progress.
  • Downloads may not always work.
  • Syncs of songs and playlists stop working correctly among devices.

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on how many tracks you have in the cloud, so you don’t exceed the 25,000 track limit. To do this, check the iTunes Match screen, which you can see above, but take into account how many purchased tracks you have. To find this number, you can make a smart playlist with the following conditions:

Screen Shot 2015 01 27 at 3 26 40 PM

In my iTunes library, it shows that I have a whopping 4,176 purchased tracks. (I bought a few big “digital box sets,” such as the Dylan and U2 sets, which, together, make up about 1,200 tracks.)

Subtract this number from the total to see how much wiggle-room you have.

Next, you may want to delete some music from the cloud; music you don’t listen to often. Keep local copies of it, then delete it from your iTunes library. Select the tracks, then press Command-Shift-Delete (Control-Shift-Delete on Windows). When you see a dialog asking if you want to delete the tracks, check Also delete these items from iCloud.

Screen Shot 2015 01 27 at 3 29 59 PM

So, iTunes Match can be useful, but if you have a lot of music, and continue to acquire more, keep an eye on that 25,000 track limit.