Apple Music - I hate thee

In what way?

As I’ve written many times, my music library is entirely local, consisting of purchases from the iTunes Store and thousands of tracks ripped from my CDs and digitized from my cassettes.

I have had no problems playing and managing these files using Music on my Mac running the latest updates to Sonoma. I also have no problem syncing it to my iPod Touch via USB, and streaming my local library to other Apple devices on my home LAN (phone, laptop, Apple TVs).

Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t use Match and I don’t subscribe to Music streaming, but I’ve seen no evidence of Apple preventing me from doing what I’ve been doing for the past 20+ years.

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For drag and drop of tracks, I use IINA (free), which handles most audio formats (including flac) as well as video. The playlist features are rudimentary, but are adequate for light use.

https://iina.io/

For much more flexibility you can install a few older iTunes versions on Catalina and newer with Retroactive. Turn off Store in the iTunes prefs, and if you install a new enough itunes version to know about Apple Music streaming, you might want to explicitly log out of it so it doesn’t start uploading your music.

On my Catalina mac, I have Music App set up for Apple Music but it knows nothing about any local media. iTunes 10.7 via retrospective has apple music and store turned off, and connects via home sharing to my (primary mac) Sierra itunes 12.8.2 which connects to my media drive. They all coexist pretty well. If you view as songs and turn on the column browser, it’s easy to find and play single albums.

If you have or acquire an oldish mac (I like headless minis), it will serve as an excellent media server, using the older apple software that works for us instead of for apple. I like anything from Tiger through Sierra versions. I often use the free Airfoil Satellite as an airplay receiver on the macs and ithings.

Home sharing works pretty well between divergent itunes versions and even Music app, but newer versions want you to be logged in for it to work since they tightened the licensing.

I’ve never let itunes consolidate my files into its own file scheme–‘Keep iTunes Media folder organized’ and ‘Copy files to itunes Media folder when adding to library’ are both turned off, but IIRC they’re on by default. I wonder if letting apple have its way with the files can trigger or add to the problems many people seem to have?

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My experience is similar to David Shamino’s. I have over 230 albums, almost 4,000 tracks, in Music captured from my CD and record collections. I use Apple Match to make them accessible on all my Apple devices.

I cannot say that I have had no problems managing this collection. Creating it, that is entering the metadata, took weeks of work but that gave me the ability to sort albums the way I want. The entire collection became unmatched after I migrated to a new Mac a couple of years ago. All I had to do was delete everything from Music and reload it from the source files, even the metadata came right back.

This reflects one great feature of Music which Apple Photos does not have. Music is a way to access my library of music files and folders on my machine, it creates indexes etc. but it does not create a copy of my music. If the Music app screws up I still have my original music files. On the other hand, the Photos app creates its own proprietary database of anything I load into it and anything I shoot from an Apple device’s camera. If it screws up everything is lost. I go to the trouble of keeping copies of every photo and video in my own folders but this means extra work and using double the disk space.

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I’m glad it’s worked for you, but plenty of people have found that Match caused corruption. When replacing your rips with copies from the iTunes Store (which it is supposed to do), it has been known to replace the metadata as well (which it is not supposed to do). There have also been many instances of it matching incorrectly, replacing one of your rips with something completely unrelated.

This isn’t surprising. Most of the metadata used by iTunes/Music is stored in the original files’ ID3 tags. In my experience, the only things not stored in the ID3 tags are:

  • Your rating (0-5 stars)

  • Some artwork. If you manually add artwork to tracks, it gets saved in the ID3 tags. But if you purchase an album from the iTunes Store, the tracks don’t have artwork - it is instead stored separately in the Library database, so all the tracks can share a single image file.

    I don’t know if it is possible for you to manually add artwork in a way that only adds it to the library.

    If you want to rectify this, Doug’s Applescripts has a few scripts you can use. They’re shareware (some require payment to use in a non-evaluation capacity, others just ask for donations), but worth it if you need to do what they do.

This depends on how you have it configured. There is a checkbox in Music: Settings → Files → Copy files to Music Media folder when adding to library.

If this box is checked, then adding music to your library copies the file there. So you can delete the original source without losing it. But it also means that the app may modify/delete/replace these files if you use things like Match.

If the box is not checked, then adding music to your library only installs a reference to the file. So if you delete the original, the track goes off-line. I would like to believe (but have never tested this theory) that if you do this, Music will restrict its changes to your library database, possibly adding new files to the Media folder if installed by Match. But I don’t work this way, so I don’t know for sure.

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Thanks, David. All good points.
I have noticed occasional corruption and changed metadata, especially when I migrated from my old iMac to an M2 Mac mini. I had to reload from source and re-match everything which generated changes especially in artwork, a cover for the same music but different performers and vice versa. I cleaned these up manually and can now attribute the fault to Match. Thankfully, the issues were not widespread.

I’d be really tempted to switch to a 3rd party music player like Cesium just to get the iPhone to finally display album art correctly. It’s maddening how many threads we’ve had on album art issues with Music.app and how much work it is to try to work around its issues. On top of that satisfactory resolution isn’t even assured in spite of all the required effort.

I may be the odd man out but I’ve never used - nor cared about - album art on iTunes/Music. I’d be very happy to have the most basic list view of tracks, albums and playlists.

On vinyl I loved looking at albums but not on digital players. My personal favourites were Thick as a Brick and Dark Side of the Moon - both great album covers.

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I checked the CD issue with iTunes again and realized that the Full Disk Access setting was off in the Privacy & Security pane for iTunes and needs to be on not just for the CD issue but for syncing to iPod’s etc. which is something I don’t use the M1 for. CD access is fine in iTunes 10.7 installed with Retroactive assuming the settings are correct.

I’ve recently enrolled in Apple Music, and had found it very good listening to new albums, and it also allows me to automatically keep my music server, iMac and MacBook all synchronised, or so I thought. Now I’ve had a look at it, there are some that aren’t available and show up as either “No Longer Available” or “Waiting”. One of them surprised me, in that it was an Oasis album, but when I looked they were all on the Bonus Disks. One is a cover of a Beatles song, so my guess is that they couldn’t get the copyright. I have other recordings that aren’t available on Apple Music, that are fine, they are shown as Uploaded. What I’m thinking is that Apple at times seems to be happy to upload copyrighted material, that it doesn’t have the copyright to, and other times it doesn’t. Possibly Match has been told definitely don’t touch that, and I can’t now play them on the computer on which they were originally uploaded.

Can anyone suggest a reason why one single playlist won’t sync between my Mac and iPhone? Note the Foo Fighters playlist on the Mac which doesn’t exist on the phone. I have turned off syncing on the phone and re-synced and it still refuses to bring it across. Everything else syncs fine.