How to listen to Apple Music offline

Part of the joy of Apple Music is the access you now have to a vast library of music. Discover new music, dig back through the archives and listen to music you haven’t heard in years. You can even listen to that new music without sucking on your data plan. One way to do that is to download songs from Apple Music’s library while you are on WiFi, then use those songs to assemble your dream offline playlist.

But before you do, take a few minutes and back up your existing music library. There are many reasons for this but, for the sake of this discussion, the issue at hand is DRM.

Without rehashing the shoulda, coulda, woulda here, just know that if you store your songs in the cloud, Apple may replace the cloud-stored copy with a link to Apple’s copy of the same song. Apple’s copy will be DRM protected. This is done, presumably, to save space. If 10,000 people upload a copy of Happy, Apple only needs to store a single copy of Happy and point everyone at that copy.

If you then download a copy of Happy, you’ll end up with a DRM protected copy, even if you started with a an unprotected copy, perhaps one you ripped from a CD.

Another reason to backup your music library is the newness of Apple Music and iCloud Music Library. This is new software that is being stressed by millions of users. No matter how well Apple tests this in house, there’s no way to simulate the massive impact of millions of extremely active users. Bugs will reveal themselves. And those bugs might impact your local copy of your music. Back up your music files, save that copy for the long haul, just in case something goes wrong.

You might also want to consider disabling iCloud Music Library on your Mac and enabling it on your iPhone (as suggested by Serenity Caldwell in this post):

Don’t want your Mac’s files getting scanned? Turn off iCloud Music Library on your Mac. In iTunes, go to Preferences > General > Uncheck iCloud Music Library.

You can still keep iCloud Music Library active on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and add tracks from there if you don’t mind not having your Mac’s library streaming to your other devices; you can also make a secondary user account on your Mac that has no music and iCloud Music Library enabled so that you can listen to your streaming catalog on OS X. But if you don’t want it to scan your files, you don’t have to let it.

Which brings up the ultimate goal of this post: offline listening.

If you want to listen to music offline, you’ll need to enable iCloud Music Library. Once you’ve backed up your music, you might want to read Apple’s iCloud Music Library support page before you click Merge or Replace. Once you’ve enabled iML, you’re ready to build your offline music playlist.

Though there are a number of ways to listen to music online, you might consider starting with a new, empty playlist you can use to accumulate your offline tracks.

Once your playlist is created, start searching for tracks to offline. You can click the magnifying glass icon in For You or New to search the Apple Music library or your own music. Once you find a track you want to save, tap the More icon (it looks like an ellipsis: ) to the right of the track listing. When the list of actions appears, tap Make Available Offline. That will download the song to your device, adding it to My Music. If you have iCloud Music Library enabled on your Mac, the song will be added to that library as well. That’s step one.

Next, tap Add to a Playlist… and select your offline playlist. That’s it. Rinse and repeat.

One last thing you need to know. To get rid of a song, tap its More icon (…) and select Remove Download. That will free up space on your device. Of course, that song will no longer be available for offline listening.