You Can’t Turn Off Apple Music on iOS

When Apple updated the Music app in iOS 8.4, the company added Apple Music. This streaming service is tightly integrated into iOS (and iTunes, on the desktop). In fact, it’s so well integrated that you can’t turn it off.

There’s a setting in Settings > Music that lets you toggle Apple Music’s visibility:

Apple music settings

But there’s nothing that turns Apple Music off entirely. You can see this by asking Siri to play some music. As long as you have an Apple Music subscription – trial or paid – and you’re signed into your account, Siri will play music from Apple Music, sometimes even when you already have music by the same artist on your iOS device.

(I’ve bolded the above since several people have asked whether this would happen if they don’t have an Apple Music subscription.)

Here’s an example. I have lots of music by the Grateful Dead on my iPhone. If I tell Siri to “Play Grateful Dead,” here’s what happens:


Siri1   Siri2

When I open the Music app, I see this:

Siri3

This is an album that I do not own. Instead of playing my Grateful Dead music, Siri gets music from Apple Music. Which is not what I want.

You can try too. Hide Apple Music in the settings, and tell Siri to play music by an artist whose music is on your device. You may hear music that’s on the device, or you may hear music that’s on Apple Music. Then tell Siri to play an artist whose music is not on the device. Even though you thought that Apple Music was off, it’s not; you’ll get music streamed from Apple Music.

I find this annoying, and it’s yet another reason why I don’t use Siri. If I want to play music on my own device, Siri should be smart enough to do that. I also don’t want to use Apple Music on my iPhone, and if, by accident, the settings allowed the use of cellular data for music, I could burn up a lot of data with no warning.

So, if you use Siri to control music playback, be aware of exactly how it’s working.

Update: As a commenter points you, you can have Siri play local music by saying “Play Grateful Dead from My Music.” This should be the default, however, not the exception. If I have music by an artist on my device, it should play the local music, not something from Apple Music.

52 thoughts on “You Can’t Turn Off Apple Music on iOS

    • As I say in the article:

      “As long as you have an Apple Music subscription – trial or paid – and you’re signed into your account, Siri will play music from Apple Music.”

      If you don’t have a subscription, then I don’t think it will play anything. But I don’t have any devices I can test.

    • If you don’t have a subscription, Siri will pull from your library or radio stations (including Beats 1 if you ask it). However, if you use iTunes Match, it can and will still draw music from the cloud, which uses data. If you’re worried about data usage, pre-load your music when you’re off cellular (which you can also do with Apple Music), organize your music by playlist and be specific with your commands (“Hey Siri, play Grateful playlist.”), or turn off Music in the cellular settings.

      • Right, but iTunes Match contains music that is in my library (even if it’s not on the device). Apple Music is music I don’t own, and if I already have music by a certain artist, I expect to hear what I have on the device.

    • As I say in the article:

      “As long as you have an Apple Music subscription – trial or paid – and you’re signed into your account, Siri will play music from Apple Music.”

      If you don’t have a subscription, then I don’t think it will play anything. But I don’t have any devices I can test.

    • If you don’t have a subscription, Siri will pull from your library or radio stations (including Beats 1 if you ask it). However, if you use iTunes Match, it can and will still draw music from the cloud, which uses data. If you’re worried about data usage, pre-load your music when you’re off cellular (which you can also do with Apple Music), organize your music by playlist and be specific with your commands (“Hey Siri, play Grateful playlist.”), or turn off Music in the cellular settings.

      • Right, but iTunes Match contains music that is in my library (even if it’s not on the device). Apple Music is music I don’t own, and if I already have music by a certain artist, I expect to hear what I have on the device.

  1. I don’t speak to Siri, Siri never speaks to me, and that’s the way I’m keeping it. Even when I go to iOS 9 and get Apple TV.

  2. I don’t speak to Siri, Siri never speaks to me, and that’s the way I’m keeping it. Even when I go to iOS 9 and get Apple TV.

  3. You can get Siri to play only the music on your device, rather than from the entire Apple Music cloud service, by saying “Play [artist name/album/etc] from my music.”

    Agreed that the default Siri behavior is poorly thought out. I’ve been caught out by it many times already. Fingers crossed they change it in the future.

  4. You can get Siri to play only the music on your device, rather than from the entire Apple Music cloud service, by saying “Play [artist name/album/etc] from my music.”

    Agreed that the default Siri behavior is poorly thought out. I’ve been caught out by it many times already. Fingers crossed they change it in the future.

  5. Well, there’s always, “Siri, turn on airplane mode.” “If you turn on airplane mode, I will stop working. Are you sure?” “Yes.”

  6. Well, there’s always, “Siri, turn on airplane mode.” “If you turn on airplane mode, I will stop working. Are you sure?” “Yes.”

  7. I’m absolutely astonished at your (Kirks) persistence in using Apple music and putting your (demo) iTunes library on the line, fair play. Seems like the opposite of a bag of fun every time I pop into the blog these days… I know it’s your job, I guess.

    I really reject remarks saying how “badly thought out” such and such an aspect is. I truly believe it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do it’s just that we can only comment on what fails, under the hood, it will be doing apples bidding.

    As for siri… utter… and complete… rubbish…

    • Actually, I discovered this when I was using my iPhone which does not have Apple Music or iCloud Music Library turned on; this isn’t my demo library. That’s one reason why I’m surprised that Siri can access Apple Music, and why I don’t want it to. I don’t want this library massacred.

  8. I’m absolutely astonished at your (Kirks) persistence in using Apple music and putting your (demo) iTunes library on the line, fair play. Seems like the opposite of a bag of fun every time I pop into the blog these days… I know it’s your job, I guess.

    I really reject remarks saying how “badly thought out” such and such an aspect is. I truly believe it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do it’s just that we can only comment on what fails, under the hood, it will be doing apples bidding.

    As for siri… utter… and complete… rubbish…

    • Actually, I discovered this when I was using my iPhone which does not have Apple Music or iCloud Music Library turned on; this isn’t my demo library. That’s one reason why I’m surprised that Siri can access Apple Music, and why I don’t want it to. I don’t want this library massacred.

  9. Not quite true – or rather, the claim appears to be ambiguous.

    If you are asking, can you limit playing on ios to only music on the device, then set the ‘Music Available Offline’ to ‘on’ in the music app itself. Siri will limit itself appropriately.

    Can you change this setting via siri – that’s a more interesting question…

    If you don’t limit the options for music only on the device, then how would a request to play music (via Siri or not) know how you wanted to source the music?

  10. Not quite true – or rather, the claim appears to be ambiguous.

    If you are asking, can you limit playing on ios to only music on the device, then set the ‘Music Available Offline’ to ‘on’ in the music app itself. Siri will limit itself appropriately.

    Can you change this setting via siri – that’s a more interesting question…

    If you don’t limit the options for music only on the device, then how would a request to play music (via Siri or not) know how you wanted to source the music?

  11. What irritates me the most about the iOS Music app is that I can no longer access the cached music sitting on my device when my device goes off grid or out of range. These cached files pile up in storage while listening via iTunes Match.

    Prior to iOS 8.4, I was still able to listen to these recently played songs without a network connection. Now, the Music app won’t let me do that, even though the songs are sitting in my device taking up storage space. At least in iOS 7, I could delete those cached music files. Now, the only way I can get rid of those files is to toggle iTunes Match/iCloud Music Library on and off. Problem is that every time I do that, my phone needs to restore the library file, which uses ~300 MB of data.

    If I want to play any files offline, I now need to explicitly download the files. A separate action from just playing the files and having those files available offline by default.

    I assume that this limitation has to do with how the rights deals for Apple Music were handled, and how songs cached through Apple Music are DRM-restricted. It now treats my music library (which I stream using a separate service that I PAY FOR) as an extension of that DRM-festooned cloud library by restricting what I can do offline.

  12. What irritates me the most about the iOS Music app is that I can no longer access the cached music sitting on my device when my device goes off grid or out of range. These cached files pile up in storage while listening via iTunes Match.

    Prior to iOS 8.4, I was still able to listen to these recently played songs without a network connection. Now, the Music app won’t let me do that, even though the songs are sitting in my device taking up storage space. At least in iOS 7, I could delete those cached music files. Now, the only way I can get rid of those files is to toggle iTunes Match/iCloud Music Library on and off. Problem is that every time I do that, my phone needs to restore the library file, which uses ~300 MB of data.

    If I want to play any files offline, I now need to explicitly download the files. A separate action from just playing the files and having those files available offline by default.

    I assume that this limitation has to do with how the rights deals for Apple Music were handled, and how songs cached through Apple Music are DRM-restricted. It now treats my music library (which I stream using a separate service that I PAY FOR) as an extension of that DRM-festooned cloud library by restricting what I can do offline.

  13. mmm…maybe my bad…I got it to play a song not on the device with that option on – by asking Siri to do so… 🙁

    though I don’t recall it playing non-on the device songs when that options is selected and it’s left to its own choice. Perhaps my memory fooled me…or the sample size (daily for two months) was insufficient!!

    • I first saw this under 8.4, but I didn’t pay attention to it. Today, I was writing an article about playing music via an Apple Watch, and I noticed it was happening often when I told the watch to play music. I then found that it happens most of the time when I tell my iPhone to play music. There is no way to change this behavior, other than to turn off cellular data, and only query Siri on cellular. I don’t use Siri to play music, so it’s not a big deal, but it will be for some peolpe.

  14. mmm…maybe my bad…I got it to play a song not on the device with that option on – by asking Siri to do so… 🙁

    though I don’t recall it playing non-on the device songs when that options is selected and it’s left to its own choice. Perhaps my memory fooled me…or the sample size (daily for two months) was insufficient!!

    • I first saw this under 8.4, but I didn’t pay attention to it. Today, I was writing an article about playing music via an Apple Watch, and I noticed it was happening often when I told the watch to play music. I then found that it happens most of the time when I tell my iPhone to play music. There is no way to change this behavior, other than to turn off cellular data, and only query Siri on cellular. I don’t use Siri to play music, so it’s not a big deal, but it will be for some peolpe.

  15. Sorry, I’m not sure I’m understanding this issue?

    I thought the point of signing up for (and signing into) Apple Music’s service was to hear any and all available tracks in iTunes? And the default logical assumption of you being signed in would be that is what you actually wanted. Are you saying that it is impossible to sign out of the service once you’re signed up?

    • There’s no way to sign out on an iOS device. As I said, if I ask Siri to play music, I expect it to default to music on my iPhone, not music from the cloud.

    • Seems that the best bet is even never touch Apple Music from the very beginning. Thus, all issues related to this could be removed almost nearly, from my devices.

  16. Sorry, I’m not sure I’m understanding this issue?

    I thought the point of signing up for (and signing into) Apple Music’s service was to hear any and all available tracks in iTunes? And the default logical assumption of you being signed in would be that is what you actually wanted. Are you saying that it is impossible to sign out of the service once you’re signed up?

    • There’s no way to sign out on an iOS device. As I said, if I ask Siri to play music, I expect it to default to music on my iPhone, not music from the cloud.

    • Seems that the best bet is even never touch Apple Music from the very beginning. Thus, all issues related to this could be removed almost nearly, from my devices.

  17. I thought I had the same issue. I deactivate cellular data, went to the music app and hit the random all button to play everything I have stored on my mobile. The app started playing some tunes that were in my offline library but also some that were in my online library, so I thought it was streaming from apple music.

    I then monitored the data usage while playing and there was no data sent nor received even when skipping through the tunes multiple times. It seems to me that it plays whatever is in the cache memory, even though content is not in your offline library.

  18. I thought I had the same issue. I deactivate cellular data, went to the music app and hit the random all button to play everything I have stored on my mobile. The app started playing some tunes that were in my offline library but also some that were in my online library, so I thought it was streaming from apple music.

    I then monitored the data usage while playing and there was no data sent nor received even when skipping through the tunes multiple times. It seems to me that it plays whatever is in the cache memory, even though content is not in your offline library.

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