Dave Mark: Why I’m not done with Apple Music

A few days ago, Jim wrote about his nightmarish experience with Apple Music. I do understand his frustration. But I’m not ready to give up on Apple Music just yet.

To be clear, I haven’t run into the exact same issues as Jim (my library still appears to be in one uncorrupted piece, no files appear to be missing). But I do see plenty of problems with the current Apple Music incarnation.

My Mac and iOS devices might as well be on different planets. When I search for a song on my iPhone, I can tap the Apple Music tab and, assuming the song is available on the Apple Music library, I can add the song to my current playlist, download it to my device for offline play, and mark it with a For You heart. Easy peasy.

On my Mac, not so simple. Unlike the iOS universe, there is no Apple Music application on my Mac. On my iOS device, things are clear cut. There’s the iTunes Store app for buying music and the Apple Music app for streaming.

On my Mac, however, there’s iTunes. Only iTunes. iTunes for buying music, just as it always was. And iTunes for streaming. But merged together, interleaved, with no clear dividing line between streaming and purchasing. That dividing line exists, true, but it is mushy, vague, unclear.

As an example, fire up iTunes and click the music note icon towards the upper left corner to focus on music. Next, click in the search field (upper right corner). Chance are, you’ll see a popup window appear with tabs for My Library and iTunes Store. If you find a song in the iTunes Store that you like, how do you go about adding it to your playlist? Turns out, you can’t.

To get to Apple Music, you have to click on For You (Maybe there’s a simpler way to get there, but I haven’t stumbled across it). Once you click For You, a click in the same search field shows tabs for My Library and Apple Music. Yeesh. There’s no way to buy a song you find in Apple Music and (much more importantly for me) no way for me to find a song from the front page of the iTunes Store in Apple Music. Crazy town.

[Update: As Kirk McElhearn points out, there is a link back to the iTunes Store in the “…” menu to the right of a song in Apple Music. But no direct link from a song in the iTunes Store (and its rich front page of New Music and Hot Tracks) back to that song in Apple Music.]

This is just one scenario. There are lots more. Why isn’t there an editable history of my likes? How about a playlist built from all the songs I’ve listened to? How about a searchable list of playlists, something I can browse through that is organized by genre? Some of these things may well exist, but the interface is so complex, so scattered, I’ve not yet stumbled upon it.

So all this said, why am I still pushing on? Why don’t I make the move to Spotify?

It’s all about potential.

Even with all its blemishes, Apple Music has been a hell of a lot of fun. I now have access to, arguably, one of the largest music databases on the planet. I am listening to lots of new music, exploring genres I’ve never gotten into before, digging into some old favorites that bring me pangs of nostalgia and, overall, just listening to lots more music than I’ve listened to in quite some time.

All of the things I’ve complained about, and all the stuff Jim complained about in his post, are all eminently fixable. More importantly, the building blocks are in place for the next generation of Apple Music to do some incredible things.

I can tell you one thing for sure: I have backed up my music collection very carefully. Thanks for that warning, Jim. Sorry you had to pay the price for that knowledge.



  • Thanks for this post. It’s a nice balance to Jim’s and your last paragraph should be repeated up front as well.

    All of that said, and I have no experience with Apple Music (yet), my experience with iCloud has been less than 100% perfect and as one of your commenters said the other day under Jim’s post, Apple needs to put as much attention into their cloud services as they do into the fit and finish of their physical products.

    Even though I don’t use Apple Music, I do use iTunes and both it and the Mac version of iBooks really need a lot of work.

    Again, thanks or the post.

  • I’m struggling to get Apple Music to work with my iTunes library. It works fine when I create a new library ( option + Left click on iTunes app ) but it fails to work when i’m using my existing library. It says that there’s an issue ( error 4010 ) when trying to submit it to Apple – iTunes Match did the same thing 🙁 This means I can’t add music to ‘my apple music’

    Very annoying and I’m still trying to find a solution.

    With regards to Jim’s issue – surely there’s a backup somewhere with all the music stored.

    I’m finding it slightly weird how a lot of tech-bloggers don’t have back up’s running. I’ve got CrashPlan setup as well as a local TimeMachine – both include my music.

    • jameskatt

      I cannot understand how a long-time tech saavy writer can simply have NO BACKUP for the most important IRREPLACEABLE data files on his computer – his precious and irreplaceable music. What if disaster happens such as: 1) hard drive failure 2) fire 3) water damage 4) theft 5) electrical surge wiping out the hard drive 6) etc. Who does he blame if he also loses his data these ways? Himself? Nah too egocentric. God? Nature? Apple? Why of course. You even get a clickbait opportunity.

      The answer for Jim is to get 3 external hard-drive backups of his music. Then get a backup on Crashplan – where you get to keep permanent copies of every version of your music. This way, if something corrupts or changes the music file, you will have the originals available.

      Simple, tech saavy solution.

      • sj660

        implying he won’t just redownload them from a torrent

      • markblei

        It sounds like from the size of his collection, a backup might just be unreasonable to do. I have 168 gigs of music and i’m terrified of losing that to a data loss or some sort of screwing over by Apple. I’ve got a backup, and I’ve got a backup to the backup and 168 gigs is just a few thousand songs,maybe 150,000,. However the author was talking about losing 4,700 songs like it was a small fraction of his collection. If that’s so perhaps he’s talking about terabytes of music and video files and keeping backup’s to him is difficult. I mean it’s reasonable in this day and age to have a few terabytes of music, maybe he just doesn’t have the storage to backup that size of a collection?

        • I don’t buy it, he had everything he lost on one computer, most likely a mac, so he didn’t have more than a 1-2TB hard drive. If he was foolish enough not to have at least one external HD backup of his music, that’s a story in itself for a prominent tech blogger.

        • you cannot have a digital collection as it’s not real. a collection is something you can hold in physical reality. you all are deluding yourself. get a real hobby.

  • Eugene Kim

    So who is the iTunes Czar at Apple that apparently can do whatever the heck they want with iTunes no matter how awful, bug-ridden, or convoluted it becomes, with impunity? After getting rid of Flash, iTunes is now the absolute worst piece of software on my computer that I must put up with, and it disgusts me. It’s like somebody is putting their fingers in their ears, “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” whenever we talk about how damn awful iTunes is and how it needs to be broken up and simplified, and then they turn around and add MORE stuff to it and make it even more convoluted and bug-ridden than before, to the point of feeling almost spiteful.

    • David Robeson

      Agreed. There was a time when each new version of iTunes made me think, “Oh, cool! What does it do?” Now each new version prompts the thought, “Oh god… what did they do?” This is not good in the long term.

      • I think the phrase you are looking for is: “What fresh Hell is this?”

        • David Robeson

          LOL — that’s exactly it.

    • Tom

      I think the dudes names are; Edy Cue and Jimmy Iovine. With Jobs gone and no one else with any cojones at Apple, the new team just bends over backwards to the record industry now. But hey, whatdaiknow?

      • Paul

        While that is probably true, it was also bad when Jobs was still there. iTunes was heavily restricted and ruined my music library too, about 4 or 5 years ago. Plus the restrictions on using a single sync source mean you can’t use it for managing your own music library. I’ll never use it again. Not surprised to read there are still serious problems.

        • Tom

          Yes, you are right. And Now with the news, excuse me rumor that Apple plans on eliminating downloads I feel like dumbass and still drank the kool-aid. Apple is losing music off of my personal hard drive from my Mac. Lots of people are talking about this. What a joke.

  • Tom Busby

    Thanks Dave. I was a little concerned when I read Jim’s post the other day. While it was true I was not sure it told the whole story. And then it went all other the tech blog world in a flash. Your article helps to balance things out quite a bit. For starters, I absolutely love Apple Music but I can only say that when I am referring to using it on my iPhone. Sure there are many bugs and places where the functionality is not quite there but the music discovery areas are what it makes it so compelling. I started out intentionally not mixing my personal music catalogs with the mix (iCloud Music Library). When I was ready I created a totally new iTunes library on my Macbook. I only brought in music that I was not finding on Apple Music. I played around with that for a few days and stopped there. As it stands I will probably continue in that direction for combining music that I own and Apple Music tracks. Seems a safer path for now. I’ve read some of the difficulties, Jim’s included, and that was what helped me make that decision. I have also experiencing some syncing issues between these 2 devices. All of this being said, I’m sold on Apple Music, especially on my phone. It FAR exceeds any previous music experience I have had on ANY device. I am hopeful Apple will get the kinks worked out but even if the merging of music continues to be a problem it is not a show stopper for me. I’ll continue using it daily to listen to my favorite music, to discover new music and yes, maybe even listen to Beats 1. I’m an old guy, 63 and I listened to it this morning on my morning walk. Not bad.

  • Simon Abrams

    I haven’t experienced any of the technical issues with iTunes/Apple Music that others have – yet.

    My very old (SoundJam-era) library seems to be doing okay – but I wouldn’t really know otherwise, precisely because it’s old and quite large, and I got lazy and gave up trying to keep it pristine years ago. I think that’s one of the reasons I finally got on board with the idea of streaming services like Spotify in the first place.

    One of these days, I’ll probably remember that I had some obscure song in my iTunes library, and I’ll go look for it and realize that it’s all borked, but in the meantime, Apple Music has been fun, and like Dave, I’ve been discovering new stuff as well (although I wonder if that’s just due to the new-and-shinyness factor).

  • David Nouls

    I just can’t get iTunes to start a station from the currently playing song. Works fine on iOS but not on my Mac.

    • Same here. One of the big frustrations with Apple Music for me is these inconsistencies.

  • jameskatt

    NOTE: Not every song in the iTunes Music Store is available on Apple Music. Some artists have simply refused to allow their music to be streamed.

  • jameskatt

    I agree that Apple needs to create a much better iTunes interface for Apple Music. I abhor any attempt to create a separate Apple Music App. I prefer an integration between my music library and Apple Music. I love how you can download songs from Apple Music so you can play them off line. I would love bigger graphics on Apple Music so on the Mac it has some visual appeal.

  • collider

    I’m having the exact same experience you are Dave. And I totally understand Jim’s pain. A shame he had no backup – an experience I went through a couple years ago when my computer got stolen. My backup is a few boxes of CDs, which I still haven’t had time to re-digitize. I’m elated to have access to pretty much everything I lost + tons of stuff related and tons of stuff to discover. It seems starting with a pretty much empty library is the way to go here. And with my daughter getting to the age where she’s buying a lot of music, the family plan is a complete no-brainer. Apple will hopefully fix the usability and library breaking bugs. I’m loving it so far, really can’t see going back.

  • Moeskido

    Potential and fixable problems notwithstanding, I’m genuinely grateful to every one of you folks who jumps in on day one and ultimately unearths bugs in new software, whether it’s the OS or an app like iTunes.

    I’m already sorry I upgraded to v. 12 (the process for reverting to 11 doesn’t exactly thrill me), but you can bet money I’m sitting back and waiting for Apple Music (and iTunes Match) to mature before I even consider allowing either to run on devices I use every day.

  • mathew

    I gave up on iTunes around iTunes 10, and got rid of my iPods so I wouldn’t have to use it.

    Google Music works great on my Mac and my phone. I can upload albums easily, play music anywhere with a Chrome browser, and it doesn’t try to do anything clever to the music on my computer.

  • Josh Biggs

    This is why they should have introduced this as a new app. Google Music combined their music locker and streaming service (fairly well, actually) and it still has loads of problems with duplicate songs, incorrect matches, etc. Google allows you to “correct” this metadata, but my assumption is that they are storing this on a per user basis.

    The simple method, the Apple way, if you will, would be to create a new app that only streams the 30 mil songs in Apple’s library. Ultimately, I think this is where they are headed, but we are in the transition period. As for non-iTunes songs? I see two scenarios, private / off label recordings (bootlegs, promo discs, rips that are no longer sold or have specific versions of songs) and rips of albums that are available in iTunes. There should be a method to support the first kind, but the second kind will ultimately fade away.

  • James Alexander

    Thanks for being the yang to his yin. I was on the complete opposite side to his article. I dont use iTunes so I would never run into those types of issues. I have been using iTunes Match and now Apple Music. I have great things to say about Apple Music but hope they keep making improvements.

  • Sorry to disagree, but my Experience has been more in line with Jim’s. iCloud Music Library is nothing short of a train wreck, and Apple Music is pretty worthless without it. Thankfully I don’t think I’ve lost any data, but when I tried to sync my library between devices, it ended up deleting all my music – playlists and all – off my iPhone. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get it to work properly. I’ll ride out the free trial, but I am already using Spotify again instead of Apple Music.

  • Jeb!

    I’m just happy to see that people who know what they’re doing are as frustrated with this nightmare as I, who does not, am.

  • qwerty12

    If it’s all eminently fixable, though, how come it hasn’t been fixed?

    I’ve had issues with iTunes, and iTunes Match, dating back to April, and the release of iTunes 12.1.2. Now we’re on 12.2.1, and I’m still at wit’s end fixing problems from April, including duplicate playlists, sluggish Match, and a library that had a handful of songs swallowed whole and messed-up metadata from the debut of 12.2. Coincidentally, or not, iTunes Match for me renewed a couple days before 12.1.2 was issued.

    I can cite about several hundred different Apple Support forum threads all with issues that remain open, including my own. But none of them have any interest from Apple the company. Apple the “support” has little interest in anything other than telephone support. So I have no interest in Apple Music or a free trial. I shouldn’t pay because they can’t pay attention to their mistakes. All the PR seems focused on “look what Apple Music does”, and not, “We’re sorry Apple Music is not doing what we anticipated, let’s try and optimize it to address your issues”.

    iTunes’s issues do not exist in a vacuum. Why is Apple treating those of us with problems like we exist in one?

  • ready1take1

    Has anyone else noticed that you cannot rearrange or drag and drop apple music songs in the up next window, but you can rearrange your music around it? In the music app on the iPhone you CAN rearrange it just fine. I’m hoping this is going to be fixed in future upgrades.

  • Laraine

    I was wondering why he was such an idiot he didn’t back up. Some people never seem to learn. So far I’ve needed my back up only once, when a hard drive died on me in a G3. What few documents I hadn’t backed up I was able to shove onto a Zip drive when I realised the HD was about to croak. That was in the days of CD back ups (right pain) but it’s so much easier to back up today there is no excuse for not doing so.

  • Nikman Shah

    I’m not an audiophile, nor am I a music enthusiast that keeps myself up to date with the latest releases of my favorite artists. And I definitely do not go out and buy, in iTunes or physically, those new releases.

    I used to be a fan of FM radio, but nowadays I get turned off by them as they air too much ads. Way too much, to the point where ads take at least 5 minutes of my listening time before any actual music starts broadcasting.

    To me, great music is great music, no matter the genre or artist. So the issues that Jim and Dave highlighted are totally insignificant to me. Particularly because I don’t buy any music, I don’t have my own music library, I don’t build my own playlists (I just don’t have enough time to do that), and I rarely listen to songs an album at a time. My musical choices on Apple Music are mostly using the playlists generated by curators in the For You section. Once I’m done with a playlist, I go to the next one in “For You”. If I feel like it, once in a while I play one of the songs recommended in the “New” section.

    So taking all the above into account, these problems are non-issues to me. I’m not sure how many people like me there are in the world, but if we are the majority, then it would seem the majority don’t really care about these problems. We already have a lot to think about in this world to really care what we are listening to in Apple Music. As long as it’s good music, I’m letting Apple take care of what’s playing. I’ll just listen. And I’m willing to pay, as I’m wholly satisfied with the trial period thus far.

  • Tom

    I disagree completely. This latest iteration of iTunes with Apple Music absolutely sucks. It’s destroyed my 100 plus gig library, Years of work I use for my job down the toilet. Yes, I have two local backups, Time Machine and a separate off site backup. Still, my library is efffed because of this crap and the return of DRM on music I effing own!

    I’m really disappointed in Apple.

    • Greebo

      In your case I recommend going back to 12.1, as I did. Then go back in TM and locate the iTuneslibrary.itl file in the iTunes media folder from before you updated , and put it back. I think you’ll be surprised.

      Follow thes instructions:

      http://www.macworld.com/article/2839797/unhappy-with-itunes-12-heres-how-to-revert-to-itunes-11.html

      But use 12.1; get from here;

      https://secure-appldnld.apple.com/itunes12/031-19002.20150409.9C24E/iTunes12.1.2.dmg

      That is, if you’re using a Mac. Dunno about Windows.

      I did this, and all was fine, until the next day, when Auto Update put 12.2 back on. Make sure you turn that OFF!

      • Tom

        Thats exactly what I did. Yes, on a Mac. I sure wish there was some other media player. Josh Biggs suggested Apple Music should be an independent app. Great idea. I did speak to a senior level tech at Apple, he did say to just hold on and don’t give up anything else as he advised fixes are coming. Of course maybe he was playing to my psyche given I was less than enthralled with this fiasco. If he wasn’t snowing me, he indicated perhaps one more bug fix to 8.4.X or we just have to wait for iOS 9.0.

        Oh joy, what other unfriendly gremlins will exist in that one? I shudder the thought.

        Well, back to the honey-do list. My boss (wife) said my break is over. Thanks for the info dude.

  • CyberData4

    I tried. I really tried to like Apple Music. But after vanishing albums, vanishing songs from my playlist and the inability to clear the music cache at my discretion I’m done for now. What really hurts is since the Music app is baked into the OS it’ll take an OS update to fix issues.

  • Warning to anyone with Live Bootleg Music – Apple Music Cloud Sync replaces all of your songs! I turned on Cloud Sync on my laptop, and had it already on for iPhone. Found that Live Bootleg Albums had not only covers but every live version of each song replaced by the original album version of the song with the same name. Awesome – who wants to listen to live music? Holy Sh*t!!!!

    Luckily my main music library is on a PC that hasn’t been infected by 12.2 and Cloud Sync, and will never be. Deleting user files en-masse without warning is a gigantic screw up that should have Tim Cook holding a press conference on the scale of Antenna-Gate.

  • 0987654321

    Spotify works perfectly and doesn’t try to mess with my setup…

  • trotnixon

    iTunes has been doing funny stuff with my audio since v.6 and I went through many hours/days worth of rebuilding/restoring my iTunes library primarily because it’s my database for my digitized CD collection. I avoided iCloud, Match and was planning on doing the same for Apple Music. Jim’s experience has confirmed that Music would be a waste of my time.

  • Tim Borden

    iTunes 12 wiped out all my playlists during an iPod sync in Jan and “delisted” most of my tracks from my iTunes (all legally purchased). Looks like no way to get the playlists back except manually off my Classic I am saving as a “backup” but luckily all files backed up. I am in “wait and see” mode and teetering on going to Google Play if the nonsense keeps up. Be a shame as I’ve been Apple 100% since before the first iPod. They are trashing their user loyalty.

  • Tim Borden

    What happened to me with iTunes/iPod is like if you bought $1000 worth of Lego every year for 10 years and spent hundred of hours to build this awesome Lego castle. Then one random day the Lego company sends some guys to your house with shotguns to blow the crap out of it in hopes that you’ll buy their new styrofoam Legos and build something they’d like better.

  • DJ RBanga!

    I have a ridiculously large library, so I never used iTunes Match. What bothers me is that ANY person writing about text would EVER not back things up! Really? Put everything on the cloud? That’s asinine. You should ALWAYS keep at least two hard backups. I know that is inconvenient, but it’s better than the alternative. Also, I’m willing to bet $$ that the difficulty is part of the arrangement with the music providers. Think about it. They make Waaay less money on streaming. Why would they let you download hundreds of albums to your library for only 10 bucks? That doesn’t make any sense. So, my suggestion is to use Apple Music for discovery. Use iTunes for collection, and never, EVER save your purchases to the cloud exclusively. That’s like keeping your wallet at your neighbor’s house instead of on your nightstand at night. Surely you are not that stupid. Regards

  • MM13

    another big error – if you download an album from apple music and then subsequently buy the hard copy CD to import as loseless – it saves the files into the apple music folder and keeps such files tagged as apple Music – which means if you delete the files from itunes – they delete completely from your system… big fail!

  • Jams O’Donnell

    I’ve used Macs for 20 years, but Spotify does just fine for me. No intention of moving.

  • Kevin L

    After the turtlenecks and untucked shirts told us how great it’d be, i was excited. Told my daughter it’d be like Soundcloud, Spotify, Pandora and iTunes in one place.

    Now, they’ve driven me to Spotify and I’m all the way. Instead of putting that effort into Apple Music and the related frustrations, I’ve gone sort of zen on it all. I’ve accepted the loss of my music, the disarray to my library and haven’t touched iTunes in a couple of weeks.

    Thanks Tim, Eddy and Jimmy for guiding me to enlightenment, for forcing me to just letting go…

  • Greebo

    Hmm. One thing I don’t see mentioned is the old iTunes Radio service. I know it’s old hat but it suited me fine, along with my iTunes Match sub. With iTunes 12.2 it’s basically gone. Sure, some of it still exists under Recently Played, but I can’t make new stations ( I have around 40 custom stations, MY choice, NOT Apple’s ). Ok, easily fixed by reverting to 12.1, where it’s all the way it was, but why make something that I think is great and then break it? Well, the answer is obvious I guess. Apple paid an obscene amount of money to Dre ( something I struggle to understand, given Dre’s obvious homophobia and the openly homosexual CEO of Apple, but that’s a discussion for elsewhere ) for a music streaming service and some pretty ordinary headphones. Gotta justify it to the shareholders I guess.

    Not for me, I’m afraid. Beats 1 is horrible, and why did the world need another internet radio station?

    So, for the first time, I have turned off auto updating, as iTunes bloatware will reinstall 12.2 if I don’t.

    As for losing your library; why would anyone trust Apple with your data, when Apple’s record with cloud services is so poor? MobileMe, anyone? Come to that, why would you trust ANYONE online with your data. I have around 100GB of music that’s MINE, not Apple or anyone else’s, and it’s backed up 4 ways. If iTunes has taught me anything it’s that. I also know to backup the little iTuneslibrary.itl file, so when I turn on my mac and iTunes has decided that the above 100GB no longer exists I can set it straight.

    I love my Macs, and my iPhones, and have been a Mac user for 20 years, but somehow I preferred Apple when they were the underdogs.

    Anyway, I’m off to investigate Spotify or Pandora or such, and Apple can do without my iTunes Match sub. They’ll never get a cent out of me for Beats, sorry, Music. It’s awful.

  • etowah

    I have enough trouble with iTunes. I don’t like to keep a lot of music on my phone but every time I try to move just one album from iTunes to my iPhone I end up deleting a whole bunch of albums and of course there is no easy way, it is one by one by one. It is irritating. Nothing should be this hard. I THINK I finally got the one album I wanted onto a playlist and on my phone but I spent over an hour on it and just don’t need the aggravation.

  • Trilby16

    What the fuck are you even talking about?

  • Joseph Kool

    Only idiots pay for music

  • Steve Kruckheimmer

    Don’t forget, with Apple Music you’re not actually buying particular CD’s or tracks, you’re renting them. So it’s not as if Apple is stealing from you when a song disappears from your “My Music” list. In the Apple Music system you’re simply “bookmarking” what music you like. On the other hand, when you buy and download music (and do the usual backups), the problems people are having do not occur and the “owner” has complete control over his music collection, but even then one must master the art of properly tagging the music files so things will appear as one expects.

    I preview music, on my PC, at Amazon.com and download tracks I like at the same time, keeping written notes, in a journal. This way I get the mp3 version, and I put copies in various other folders for backups before transferring to Apple or other devices.

    There is a bit of confusion, at first, with the Apple music service, about whether I’m adding a single track or an entire album to “My Music.” Keeping track of downloaded music is a job, this could only be more difficult if some is purchased and the rest isn’t. With the old record collection these worries didn’t exist.

  • dc

    Just done an hour and a half trying to get Apple to refund $30 for Apple music membership that I never used. I misunderstood it as free music purchases. Shame on me I guess. They fooled an old school user.