Apple Music arrives while iTunes loyal users get ‘Headaches’


apple music-by Lance Whitney | via CNET |

Apple Music offers a lot of cool features from streaming music to an online radio station. But it also seems to be creating some headaches for loyal iTunes users.

On Tuesday, Apple launched iOS 8.4, which turned on Apple Music, a new service that offers streaming music with playlists curated by “music experts,” a 24/7 radio station called Beats 1 and a social feature called Connect that puts together musicians and their fans. Free for the first three months, the service costs $9.99 per month for an individual plan and $14.99 for a shared family plan.

Apple Music is the company’s latest strategy for bringing in more users to the Apple ecosystem. By offering its own music streaming service for iOS devices, Apple hopes to sell more iPhones and iPads. Selling more iOS devices means more users who will buy items from iTunes and potentially other Apple products and services. Apple already had around 800 million iTunes subscribers, all of which are keyed into that huge ecosystem. Also, other music streaming services, such as Spotify and Rdio, have proven a popular way for users to satisfy their music cravings, and Apple doesn’t want to get left behind in that market. But Apple Music and iOS 8.4 have introduced a couple of obstacles for iTunes users that may sour people on the new service.

Prior to iOS 8.4, a feature called Home Sharing allowed you to share your central iTunes library across your home network with other computers and with iOS devices. Home Sharing was a simple way to access your entire library of iTunes music and videos from any iOS device. But with the new version of iOS, Apple has disabled Home Sharing, at least as far as the ability to share your music. Home Sharing still fully works from computer to computer and on Apple TV, and it still lets you share videos. It’s only music that you can no longer share to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

In the release notes to the iOS 8.4 beta notes, Home Sharing was listed under known issues as “not currently available,” according to AppleInsider. That may be a sign that the feature will return at some point. But why would Apple kill Home Sharing in the first place, even temporarily?

The company may have disabled Home Sharing of music as way to coax people to sign up for Apple Music’s $14.99 family plan, which lets up to six people access an entire library of Apple content. Or the reason may lie in licensing legalities. Apple may simply not have the rights to allow music acquired through Apple Music to be streamed over a WiFi network a la Home Sharing, suggests 9to5Mac. Whatever the reason, you’d now have to upload your entire iTunes library to iCloud if you want to access all your music from an iOS device.

But that brings us to the next problem. With iOS 8.4 and iTunes 12.2, Apple introduced a new option called iCloud Music Library. Similar to iTunes Match, iCloud Music Library matches and stores your local iTunes content in the cloud so you can access your music and other files from anywhere. It also allows for offline listening. But some users are complaining that iCloud Music Library is wreaking havoc with their local iTunes libraries.

In some cases, iCloud Music Library is applying the wrong album art to certain albums. In other cases, playlists are being removed. And in more serious cases, entire songs are being moved to the wrong albums or being deleted entirely. And the problems are especially frustrating to iTunes users who’ve spent years building and organizing their libraries with certain songs, playlists and album art.

On the Apple Support Community, one user vented by sharing his experience:

I have a 13000 song library on my iMac. Installed iOS 8.4 on my iPhone this morning and had Apple Music and iCloud Music Library going…Everything was working fine on the device. Got home and installed 10.10.4 and iTunes 12.2 on my iMac. It asked to turn on iCloud Music Library and I accepted. All of the sudden it starts overwriting my album art with completely wrong art (example: Weezer showed art for a Radiohead album) on both my iMac AND my iPhone, screwing up metadata by putting random songs in albums where they didn’t belong (there was a Cursive album where the first track was listed as a Foo Fighters song). Even worse, when I’d click to listen to certain songs, it would play the wrong song/artist, like the metadata was hijacked. What in the ****? I’ve had this library organized perfectly for the better part of a decade and Apple Music screwed it up in minutes.

And there seems to be another issue with iCloud Music Library.

You can match and sync your music through either iCloud or iCloud Music Library. But there’s a difference between the two, according to a Mac and music blogger named Kirk McElhearn.

Both features match your iTunes library and store your content in the cloud. Using iTunes Match, the version of the file you upload is either the iTunes Store matched copy or a copy of your original file. But Using iCloud Music Library (without an iTunes Match subscription), the versions stored in the cloud are DRM-protected, which means the music is locked into a specific device or service. And that means you can’t play those files without an Apple Music subscription, according to McElhearn.

One user who ran into trouble with iCloud Music Library suggested the following workaround:

  • Close iTunes
  • Navigate to your iTunes folder
  • Choose a former .itl file from Previous iTunes Libraries (preferably the most recent one before the Apple Music disaster) and drag it into the iTunes folder
  • Rename the messed up .itl to iTunes Library (Corrupt).itl
  • Rename the previous iTunes library that you just dragged in to iTunes Library.itl
  • Open iTunes
  • Your music library should be restored to perfection!

Problems are expected with any new service. But Apple needs to address these issues, and soon. Otherwise, the company may find that people currently enrolled in the free three-month trial for Apple Music may give up on the service once the trial has ended.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.