Here’s How Messed Up Apple Music Metadata Is

If you follow my writings, you know that I don’t use Apple Music for my main music library, but do use it on a test library on my MacBook, as well as on an iPod touch. I recently added it to my iPad as well, to be able to use it more around the house.

I don’t trust my main library to Apple Music because of the many problems that iCloud Music Library causes.

As I’ve been adding music to my library, I’m realizing just how bad Apple Music’s metadata is. Here’s an example.

I wanted to listen to some Frank Sinatra. There’s a big set called Ultimate Sinatra, with more than 6 hours of his music. So I added it to my library.

When I started listening to it, I noticed that I wasn’t hearing all the songs that I knew. I looked at this album in iTunes, and I was surprised to see how it displays.

Sinatra new

This is a single album, yet iTunes shows it as a number of different albums with different titles. I’ve sorted by album so each title should be grouped, but you can see there are four different titles for tracks in the first grouping. And that first group of tracks, which is hanging together as an album, has track numbers in a seemingly random order.

Frank Sinatra is listed as the artist for all these tracks, sometimes with others. But if I view this album in a playlist by Artist, the only artist listed is Cole Porter.

Sinatra2

And if I view the music by album? I see this:

Sinatra3

An Hour with Harry James is the title of two “albums,” and one – whose tracks show as being in the cloud, but which are unavailable (see the first screenshot above), is called Ultimate Sinatra.

And if I view Frank Sinatra in the column browser? There seem to be a lot of albums, many of which don’t display in other views.

Sinatra4

And the way the album is listed by genre is interesting. There is no reason why certain songs are in any of these genres. If you navigate your iTunes library by genre, you’ll have a lot of trouble. These are the genres for the various songs in this album:

Sinatra5

Here’s what I think is happening. I’ve seen that iCloud Music Library changes tags and artwork. Rather than assuming that your tags, the ones you may have manually changed, are canonical, it just decides what the tags should be on your music. For example, yesterday, I deleted composer names in all the music in the Rock genre in my library. I don’t care about composers for that kind of music; those tags just get in the way when I browse using the column browser. But, today, all the composers are back for those songs.

So as iTunes updates your library, comparing it to music in the cloud, it re-matches files and changes tags. When I first added the Ultimate Sinatra album to my library, it was a single album, but it changed after a while. I surmise that iTunes matched the tracks and found that many of them were on different albums. Just as iTunes often matches tracks from studio albums to “best of” albums, here, it’s matched some tracks to the album I downloaded, and other tracks to whatever iTunes found first. But, of course, iTunes shouldn’t match Apple Music tracks; it only matches your music, that you’ve ripped or downloaded, and added to your iTunes library.

This is terribly wrong, of course. Not only should iTunes not change metadata that I’ve edited, but tracks added from Apple Music, or downloaded from the iTunes Store, should have a unique track ID that can be used to prevent this.

It’s very possible that deleting this album and re-adding it to my iTunes library will resolve these issues. I’m going to wait a few days and see if anything changes, then try that. But I shouldn’t have to. This is music from Apple Music, not music that I’ve ripped and matched.

This is yet another example of how messed up Apple Music is. It’s fine if you want to stream Taylor Swift, or listen to Beats 1 Radio, but once you start building a library, it’s simply a mess.

The only thing I can conclude is that Apple is not using the same database for Apple Music as they are for matching songs with iCloud Music Library. After adding this album to my library, which used Apple Music metadata, iTunes check with iCloud Music Library to match the tracks, and changed metadata.

Feel free to post your examples of messed-up metadata in the comments.

Update: Three days after I posted this article, I looked at the music in this Frank Sinatra album again. iTunes has changed some of the tags and album artwork again. Here’s a new screenshot of the three albums I showed earlier in the article:

Sinatra new

Update 2: A few days after the first update, I deleted the album, and then re-added it from Apple Music. I wanted to see if the tracks would remain as they displayed in Apple Music, if, perhaps, my initial experience was a fluke.

The day after I re-added the album, I went to look at it. Here’s what I see:

Sinatre redux

It’s interesting that the entire album now matches to a different album, but one that showed up earlier, with different artwork. The only artist listed this time, when I view it in Artists view, is Frank Sinatra, however, and all the tracks are grouped within this single album.

When I view in in Songs view, with the column browser visible, it shows 1 different albums, whereas previously it showed eight. Four artists are listed, plus an entry for Compilations, which contains just one song by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, and the music spans eight genres.

Sinatra column browser

QED.

60 thoughts on “Here’s How Messed Up Apple Music Metadata Is

  1. apple isn’t interested in you anymore? They changed their businesscase and are looking after streaming customers; not buyers. They don’t tell you, because they are Apple.

    • Well, yes and no. They want you to stream music that you add to your library from Apple Music. If the metadata gets messed up, you can’t find what you’re looking for, and you get frustrated.

  2. This is exactly the reason I have not and never will be a customer of Apple Music nor will I turn on iCloud Music. I’ve spent years of effort to tweak my music library to it’s current condition and do not want wither of these entities to willy-nilly change the meta-data. It’s like Apple telling me “We know how to structure your music library better than you.” Whoever is adding the meta-data has no idea or concept of music or how consumers listen or want to listen to music. Half the time, when I download music from the iTunes store, the data is so wrong, the order of music on an album is out of order. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Another thing that annoys me is when you add a compilation to your library, only to find later that some of the tracks are actually on other albums, so you get a bunch of single-track albums yo never asked for. The same thing happens in Rhapsody.

  4. Have to agree with the sentiment here and Kirks post.
    I would like to also add that the metadata in iTunes store is also poor, and has been since it was launched.
    This, along with numerous “high level” (un)support(ive) chats, convinces me that Apple are explicitly not to be trusted when it comes to music metadata matters.
    And this has a knock on effect when dealing in other areas with Apple too.
    The rot is there…

    • Part of the problem is that the metadata is provided by record labels. I don’t know how much Apple validates it. If I simply look at the list of genres in my Apple Music library, I see genres such as Instrumental (for music by John Cage, Wim Martens, and others), Modern Era (Feldman, Brian Eno, Berio), Percussion (two works by Cage), Violin (one work by Cage), and two of the Sinatra tracks are “Smooth jazz.”

      I think that, at a minimum, Apple should confirm genres, artists, composers, and album tittles. And apparently they don’t do this.

      • Genres are quite a specific problem and not as universally important as other metadata. Users tend to mess with the genre hugely. We could discuss (argue) til the cows come home whether Stevie Wonder is R&B, Soul, Jazz, Pop, etc, etc, etc.. It becomes more problematic when a track is on a soundtrack, so Stevie Wonder on a soundtrack, becomes Soundtrack genre. Unlike other music listers, iTunes doesn’t accept multiple genres. And good. (Personally I strip Genres down so I don’t get a 1000 genres, more like 30-50 tops… much easier).

        Composers/Artists/Album Titles, yes, extremely important, not up for negotiation, this is set in stone and not open to personal opinion like genre…

        • It’s not a personal choice in the iTunes Store. When you browse the store, there are a certain number of genres. This shows a list of all the top-level genres:

          https://www.kirkville.com/how-to-access-more-music-genres-in-the-itunes-store/

          There are also sub-genres for some of these. As far as I understand, submissions to the iTunes Store must include one of the genres in that list. In iTunes Producer, the app labels use to submit tracks, there is a list of genres and subgenres. I’ll paste it at the end of this comment; it’s quite long, but you can see that it does not include Violin or Modern Era. (My guess is that these genres come from tracks added to the iTunes Store before they developed a proper genre list.)

          I agree it is less important to some people, but not having composers for classical music, or mis-labeling album titles, those are much more serious.

          Alternative
          Alternative / Chinese Alt
          Alternative / College Rock
          Alternative / Goth Rock
          Alternative / Grunge
          Alternative / Indie Rock
          Alternative / Korean Indie
          Alternative / New Wave
          Alternative / Punk
          Anime
          Blues
          Blues / Acoustic Blues
          Blues / Chicago Blues
          Blues / Classic Blues
          Blues / Contemporary Blues
          Blues / Country Blues
          Blues / Delta Blues
          Blues / Electric Blues
          Brazilian
          Brazilian / Axé
          Brazilian / Baile Funk
          Brazilian / Bossa Nova
          Brazilian / Choro
          Brazilian / Forró
          Brazilian / Frevo
          Brazilian / MPB
          Brazilian / Pagode
          Brazilian / Samba
          Brazilian / Sertanejo
          Children’s Music
          Children’s Music / Lullabies
          Children’s Music / Sing-Along
          Children’s Music / Stories
          Chinese
          Chinese / Chinese Classical
          Chinese / Chinese Flute
          Chinese / Chinese Opera
          Chinese / Chinese Orchestral
          Chinese / Chinese Regional Folk
          Chinese / Chinese Strings
          Chinese / Taiwanese Folk
          Chinese / Tibetan Native Music
          Christian & Gospel
          Christian & Gospel / CCM
          Christian & Gospel / Christian Metal
          Christian & Gospel / Christian Pop
          Christian & Gospel / Christian Rap
          Christian & Gospel / Christian Rock
          Christian & Gospel / Classic Christian
          Christian & Gospel / Contemporary Gospel
          Christian & Gospel / Gospel
          Christian & Gospel / Praise & Worship
          Christian & Gospel / Southern Gospel
          Christian & Gospel / Traditional Gospel
          Classical
          Classical / Avant-Garde
          Classical / Baroque
          Classical / Chamber Music
          Classical / Chant
          Classical / Choral
          Classical / Classical Crossover
          Classical / Early Music
          Classical / High Classical
          Classical / Impressionist
          Classical / Medieval
          Classical / Minimalism
          Classical / Modern Composition
          Classical / Orchestral
          Classical / Renaissance
          Classical / Romantic
          Classical / Wedding Music
          Comedy
          Comedy / Novelty
          Comedy / Standup Comedy
          Country
          Country / Alternative Country
          Country / Americana
          Country / Bluegrass
          Country / Contemporary Bluegrass
          Country / Contemporary Country
          Country / Country Gospel
          Country / Honky Tonk
          Country / Outlaw Country
          Country / Traditional Bluegrass
          Country / Traditional Country
          Country / Urban Cowboy
          Dance
          Dance / Breakbeat
          Dance / Exercise
          Dance / Garage
          Dance / Hardcore
          Dance / House
          Dance / Jungle/Drum’n’bass
          Dance / Techno
          Dance / Trance
          Disney
          Easy Listening
          Easy Listening / Bop
          Easy Listening / Lounge
          Easy Listening / Swing
          Electronic
          Electronic / Ambient
          Electronic / Downtempo
          Electronic / Electronica
          Electronic / IDM/Experimental
          Electronic / Industrial
          Enka
          Fitness & Workout
          French Pop
          German Folk
          German Pop
          Hip Hop/Rap
          Hip Hop/Rap / Alternative Rap
          Hip Hop/Rap / Chinese Hip-Hop
          Hip Hop/Rap / Dirty South
          Hip Hop/Rap / East Coast Rap
          Hip Hop/Rap / Gangsta Rap
          Hip Hop/Rap / Hardcore Rap
          Hip Hop/Rap / Hip-Hop
          Hip Hop/Rap / Korean Hip-Hop
          Hip Hop/Rap / Latin Rap
          Hip Hop/Rap / Old School Rap
          Hip Hop/Rap / Rap
          Hip Hop/Rap / Underground Rap
          Hip Hop/Rap / West Coast Rap
          Holiday
          Holiday / Chanukah
          Holiday / Christmas
          Holiday / Christmas: Children’s
          Holiday / Christmas: Classic
          Holiday / Christmas: Classical
          Holiday / Christmas: Jazz
          Holiday / Christmas: Modern
          Holiday / Christmas: Pop
          Holiday / Christmas: R&B
          Holiday / Christmas: Religious
          Holiday / Christmas: Rock
          Holiday / Easter
          Holiday / Halloween
          Holiday / Holiday: Other
          Holiday / Thanksgiving
          Indian
          Indian / Bollywood
          Indian / Devotional & Spiritual
          Indian / Indian Classical
          Indian / Indian Pop
          Indian / Regional Indian
          Indian / Sufi and Ghazals
          Indian / Tamil
          Indian / Telugu
          Instrumental
          J-Pop
          Jazz
          Jazz / Avant-Garde Jazz
          Jazz / Big Band
          Jazz / Contemporary Jazz
          Jazz / Cool
          Jazz / Crossover Jazz
          Jazz / Dixieland
          Jazz / Fusion
          Jazz / Hard Bop
          Jazz / Latin Jazz
          Jazz / Mainstream Jazz
          Jazz / Ragtime
          Jazz / Smooth Jazz
          Jazz / Trad Jazz
          K-Pop
          Karaoke
          Kayokyoku
          Korean
          Korean / Korean Classical
          Korean / Korean Trad Instrumental
          Korean / Korean Trad Song
          Korean / Korean Trad Theater
          Latin
          Latin / Alternativo & Rock Latino
          Latin / Baladas y Boleros
          Latin / Contemporary Latin
          Latin / Latin Jazz
          Latin / Pop Latino
          Latin / Raices
          Latin / Reggaeton y Hip-Hop
          Latin / Regional Mexicano
          Latin / Salsa y Tropical
          New Age
          New Age / Environmental
          New Age / Healing
          New Age / Meditation
          New Age / Nature
          New Age / Relaxation
          New Age / Travel
          Opera
          Pop
          Pop / Adult Contemporary
          Pop / Britpop
          Pop / C-Pop
          Pop / Cantopop/HK-Pop
          Pop / Indo Pop
          Pop / Korean Folk-Pop
          Pop / Malaysian Pop
          Pop / Mandopop
          Pop / Manilla Sound
          Pop / Original Pilipino Music
          Pop / Pinoy Pop
          Pop / Pop/Rock
          Pop / Soft Rock
          Pop / Tai-Pop
          Pop / Teen Pop
          Pop / Thai Pop
          R&B/Soul
          R&B/Soul / Contemporary R&B
          R&B/Soul / Disco
          R&B/Soul / Doo Wop
          R&B/Soul / Funk
          R&B/Soul / Motown
          R&B/Soul / Neo-Soul
          R&B/Soul / Quiet Storm
          R&B/Soul / Soul
          Reggae
          Reggae / Dancehall
          Reggae / Dub
          Reggae / Roots Reggae
          Reggae / Ska
          Rock
          Rock / Adult Alternative
          Rock / American Trad Rock
          Rock / Arena Rock
          Rock / Blues-Rock
          Rock / British Invasion
          Rock / Chinese Rock
          Rock / Death Metal/Black Metal
          Rock / Glam Rock
          Rock / Hair Metal
          Rock / Hard Rock
          Rock / Heavy Metal
          Rock / Jam Bands
          Rock / Korean Rock
          Rock / Prog-Rock/Art Rock
          Rock / Psychedelic
          Rock / Rock & Roll
          Rock / Rockabilly
          Rock / Roots Rock
          Rock / Singer/Songwriter
          Rock / Southern Rock
          Rock / Surf
          Rock / Tex-Mex
          Singer/Songwriter
          Singer/Songwriter / Alternative Folk
          Singer/Songwriter / Contemporary Folk
          Singer/Songwriter / Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
          Singer/Songwriter / Folk-Rock
          Singer/Songwriter / New Acoustic
          Singer/Songwriter / Traditional Folk
          Soundtrack
          Soundtrack / Foreign Cinema
          Soundtrack / Musicals
          Soundtrack / Original Score
          Soundtrack / Soundtrack
          Soundtrack / TV Soundtrack
          Spoken Word
          Vocal
          Vocal / Standards
          Vocal / Traditional Pop
          Vocal / Trot
          Vocal / Vocal Jazz
          Vocal / Vocal Pop
          World
          World / Africa
          World / Afro-Beat
          World / Afro-Pop
          World / Asia
          World / Australia
          World / Cajun
          World / Caribbean
          World / Celtic
          World / Celtic Folk
          World / Contemporary Celtic
          World / Dangdut
          World / Dini
          World / Drinking Songs
          World / Europe
          World / France
          World / Halk
          World / Hawaii
          World / Indonesian Religious
          World / Japan
          World / Japanese Pop
          World / Klezmer
          World / Middle East
          World / North America
          World / Polka
          World / Russian Chanson
          World / Sanat
          World / South Africa
          World / South America
          World / Traditional Celtic
          World / Worldbeat
          World / Zydeco

          • Ugh. And an album of Various Artists playing/singing Various styles…?

            The Genre Police from Apple, who can’t label the correct composer, or give you the right album cover.
            The labels are also to share the blame. No doubt about that. But a confused uninformed consumer is the aim.

            It’s not maintainable. Narrowing them down or allowing multiple Genres would help.
            Additionally, It’s potentially offensive to define music made abroad (depends where you are), by the country. Surely it’s either Pop or Rock or Classical, not African, Japanese…. stupid. The offence work both ways, by the way.

            • Yes, there are lots of examples where there can be a lot of different styles. Take an album from a festival, like Woodstock. Or a collection of the top hits of a given year. At least movie soundtracks get filed as Soundtrack, so that eliminates the need to be more precise (some movies have many different types of music).

              As for the countries, there are some where it has long been standard to cite the country, such as Indian Classical Music, for example. If anything, Apple’s sub-genres allow for a better classification of that “genre.” I’m also pretty sure that there is a tendency for Asian countries to be specific about pop music, such as K-pop and J-pop, which are terms used in the country.

              This isn’t a new problem; ID3 tags have a smaller list of genres:

              http://www.multimediasoft.com/amp3dj/help/index.html?amp3dj_00003e.htm

  5. So Genres seem to depend on where the listener is (coming) from, and not (exactly) what the musical genre/style is.

    Maybe we should go back and relabel The Rolling Stones as, British – Blues-Rock, or Bob Dylan as American – Folk/Rock…
    I could go on…

    I’ve left a space for someone else to have the last word, I need to go and fix my Genres… ;)

  6. I think Kirk is quite ungrateful of Apple’s unceasingly helpful efforts to fix his tags, album art, and the like. Instead of all this carping, a simple “thank you” would be far more appropriate.

    Also, what’s this focus with local music files in your “library”? That’s such 19th century thinking. What’s next? Demanding player piano support in iTunes? Doesn’t Kirk understand that streaming services are #trending with their #disruptive #innovation?

    • I appreciate and applaud your sarcasm. This said, it’s not local music; it’s music that I added from Apple Music to be able to play without having to search for it each time. So, in a way, it’s straddles the two.

  7. I’ve been documenting my own experience with messed up albums, metadata and whatnot. It’s still a complete and wholly horrible mess after all this time. What’s worse is that with iOS I’ve seen albums that utilise the same track into their own separate albums. See https://www.drake.org.uk/apple-music-buggier-than-a-buggy-thing-in-the-land-of-insects/ for more info.

    Also: I’d love to see Apple provide an AppleCare/SLA service for their cloud services, including Apple Music, iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Drive and so on. Should provide an incentive to then to do better. But I doubt it’ll ever happen.

  8. It’s a mess. The matched music is all jacked up too. I’ve been forced to re-rip many of my CD’s and store them locally to my devices because the matched audio levels between songs on the same album are so off.

  9. I’ve had a long-running problem with having a hodge-podge of music files, and some time ago I bought a subscription to these guys: http://www.tuneupmedia.com/features – with modest success (it does do a good job, but can also apparently change its own mind on a second pass later on…). I have to admit that it’s pretty much paying money for nothing at this stage because I never have time to go through all my music for hours, verifying that it’s making the right choices. And if what I have got mangled, I’d cry. I try to keep Apple at a bit of a distance from my music collection.

    But if they can do this, why can’t Apple? I mean, Apple can surely source the same database (Tune Up are selling access to a database which they licence from Gracenote) or match the technology to get this right?

  10. Thanks – you may just have saved me a significant headache. Was about to finally spring for Apple Music and Music Match this weekend.

    I have a carefully curated library c/w metadata of c. 1200 CDs. I’ve been careful to get it right and to keep it so. Pretty much all of a given artist falls into a single Genre e.g. Frank Sinatra -> Easy Listening. I, like you, only have composer on Classical music – and pretty much 90% of tracks have the correct and normalised e.g. Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770-1827).

    I have “reduced” the number of Genres to a more manageable 30 or so (Rock and Popular are the biggies!). I don’t want the zillions of sub-classifications. I’ve been careful to set Album Artist so that I don’t have the silly Artist + collaborator(s) variations which I’d never search by.

    Perhaps in 12 months or so when the issues are ironed out.

    Etc.

  11. If you think this bad and messed up..Try looking at the state of garageband and M-Audio.. is someone trying to distort apple?? Music software is a GREAT Start..(Tim cook needs to pay more attention to this and move some people and hire people that are really dedicated to apple products and software..) If not ..Apple is going to slowly crumble…. sad!!

  12. I and other users have reported seeing Apple Music song metadata get totally screwed up if you change the track name in iTunes. What’s annoying is that this used to work fine, up until a couple of weeks ago, so I and others have forged ahead and added to or replaced songs from our libraries with streamable Apple Music tracks, only to have them get misplaced on our phones.

    It’s immensely frustrating, and @AppleMusicHelp’s response to me was basically that I shouldn’t alter Apple Music track metadata in iTunes. Well, if I’m not supposed to change it, why does iTunes even let you change it in the first place? Why was it working perfectly up until a few weeks ago?

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7371256

  13. Compilation albums are also a problem on iOS. The songs should show up under each artist but they only show up under “Compilation Albums”. This bug showed up under iOS 8, it took 6 months to fix (actually the problem was much worse in 8, it was REALLY messed up). Then when iOS 9 released, it shows up again. Whoever is in charge of building the database for the Music app ought to be fired. And don’t get me started about Finder, every release since Mavericks, it gets out of whack and then slowly it gets fixed and then gets broken again the next major release.

  14. “… I don’t use Apple Music for my main music library…”

    What DO you use? Or more to the point, what do you recommend? I’m clinging to iTunes 10.6.3 on Snow Leopard but those days will end soon, too many things aren’t working anymore on this OS. Is there credible, non-Apple music software that musicphiles are happy with?

    • I use the current version of iTunes for my “real” library. I just don’t turn on Apple Music or iCloud Music Library. I wish there were other options, but nothing else can sync to iOS devices.

  15. I’m just wondering that Forestall was fired for less… (sarcasm off) But, really, it boggles the mind why would they want to “optimize” and store a single version of a song and point multiple albums to that copy? Who came up with that idea? I bet Apple can afford the extra storage space. So it’s either someone who does not understand music very well that the same song on different albums can be mastered differently, or it’s someone who skipped that CS 101 class where they were teaching not to optimize early in a project.

    • I’ve wondered about that myself. But if there is no difference in the sound between multiple versions, then iTunes Match can’t tell which version it is. It could use metadata — the album name — which is what Apple Music uses to match tracks. A combination of the two could alleviate the problem of duplicates like this.

      • I guess they are thinking about Apple Music as a collection of songs. So each songs is an item. Albums are secondary, they just happen to contain songs, but no one should really care because people buy/listen to songs and not albums. (I disagree, but that’s seems like the explanation) Viewed that way multiple albums containing the same song is an annoyance, which they deal with in a way that drives us nuts. _We_ view albums first and _for us_ a song A in album B may very well be a different item from the same song A in album C.

    • I think Apple has hired a lot of talented software people an d music enthusiast that love rock music and are won’t be musicians over night not to mention influenced by every new gadget that there friends have or speak of.. those of us that are serious apple lovers and are serious musicians (real and do play for gigs ) These young but talented people do not understand how much of a future problem they are causing ..(oh! i play jazz piano) I think apple should bring back a lot of there experienced software tech’s and a few real musicians would not hurt ..

  16. I’m still cleaning up the mess from my 3-month Apple Music trial. The issue that put me over the edge was when it decided that the album version of Here It Goes Again by OK Go — you know, the famous one with the treadmills — no longer existed. Instead, the only version on the planet was the live version that I bought insta-burned to a USB drive at a concert I went to several years ago. I love that version, don’t get me wrong, but it has no place in the studio album. Nothing I could do would convince my iPhone otherwise. Finally, when my Apple Music account expired I nuked my phone’s music library and went back to wired syncing.

    “Apple loves music” is meaningless if they literally prevent you from hearing it.

  17. Apple Music not only messed up the songs of several of my ripped CDs but also from albums I purchased from iTunes: One deluxe version suddenly showed up as standard version. A classic album was divided into two separate albums with the exact same title and details. Even after re-downloading from iTunes Store where it is listed as one album as it should be it would be imported as two albums or the pdf booklet would be separate from the music tracks. The composer was spelled in two ways within 4 tracks, that’s just sad.
    In a rock album, also bought from iTunes, two tracks were missing and would only play via streaming. I could not download them again, only restore them from a backup I fortunately had made. It really is a chore to use and not fun any more.
    Randomly, single tracks were missing.

  18. It appears iMazing is on sale at the moment and is a competitor to iTunes – not that it will solve the cloud issues just that someone asked above for an alternative

  19. I make my own music, and, needing a quick title for the collection of songs that are not finished or fully worked out, I started to call them “Silk Purse.” I’ve done this for years.
    The trouble with this is that Apple has “found” the “real” album. Apparently Linda Rondstadt has an album with the same name. Now all of MY MUSIC has Linda Ronstadt’s photo on it.

  20. I agree with all of this, but my request is simple: I want to see my lists (artist, album, song…) sorted properly.

    On my 6S, view my music by artist, and I see all my music sorted by artist’s name. View by song, and I see all songs, sorted by song title. Sort by album and I see all albums, sorted by…. artist name?

    WTF?

  21. Apple Music is shite…. I built a playlist from songs that I had bought from iTunes, CD’s I have accumulated over the years and stuff that I had picked up from Soundcloud etc – freely available stuff…

    And what does Apple Music do when I try to add this playlist to my iPhone from my Mac?? Deletes everything I have added from Soundcloud et al and replaces a huge number of tracks that I have stored on my Mac!!! So I end up with different versions of the song I OWN on my playlist and the playlist switches to downloading these shite versions that I don’t want from the cloud when I have the versions I want right on my Mac….

    To make it worse I cannot add the playlist to my iPhone at all…

    I spent a few days building this playlist – it has 1,300 songs on it and Apple came along and fucked me. For some bonkers reason Apple has determined that what it has stored in Apple Music is the only version of any song you may have and what you actually own or have collected on your device is irrelevant and not worth having…

    It is a *** storm encompassing a *** sandwich inside a *** house. *****.

    As far as Apple Music is concerned it can *****.

    [Moderator edited out some of the words above, just because I don’t really like comments that go in that direction.]

    • I’d be as annoyed as you (Boris) had that happened to my library.
      Luckily, I didn’t jump in, waited, saw that personal metadata was being interfered with, and knew I’d steer clear.
      Apple can’t undo this. Once trust has gone, that’s it.

  22. Off topic but I absolutely hate (Deluxe) everything album titles. I can almost bet they count both the regular and deluxe titles as two albums and double count all tracks available in iTunes store.

  23. Realistically, aren’t these problems with metadata and overlapping databases simply too complicated to fix? As I read Kirk and the comments, the issues simply seem too intricate to be resolved, especially retroactively. Frankly, it seems insoluble.

    • I would like to see the possibility for users to flag tracks that are incorrectly matched, to provide information to get the correct tracks, which would help apple fix this problem overall. That might be difficult to implement, but, as things are now, there is nothing at all that users can do.

    • Seems pretty simple to solve. When trying to match song, match on song name, album, and song length. If that does not match, upload song. If they had done that all my issues would have not been issues…

      • What if there was a different remaster? You can only match to one. What if there is no album name? iTunes Match uses digital fingerprinting, so it can identify such differences. Apple Music, however, only match is metadata. So if you’re metadata is bad, you will get bad matches.

  24. Listening to pink Floyd the wall on my iPhone that got matched in the cloud, and another brick in the wall part 2 is a live version completely unrelated. How can you break an album like that???!!! Listening to a live phish show I got at a phish concert, Halloween Vegas 2014, where set 2 they covered a Halloween album, one song called timber – all the rest of the songs that had names that did not match phish songs were uploaded and played fine, but because phish also has a song timber (different lyrics, length, album) I get that song instead on my iPhone. Stupid.

  25. I’d like to see someone do some reporting on these issues from a relational database point of view. I suspect the entire problem is that songs lack unique identifier keys, and even thinking about how to either do this or how to think about implementing it starting today is a head-splitting nightmare. Instead, matching is done on things that arent unique.

    The whole system is evidence against Intelligent Design. We adapt the best we can, but I suspect we can’t get to ideal from here. We also can’t go back to the beginning.

    • One thing I discovered when analyzing the database on an iPhone is that there is a unique ID for artists, albums, and tracks. There has to be, as far as the iTunes Store is concerned. So it is very surprising how they make this kind off mistake. The unique ID should have prevented the problem I describe here, but it wouldn’t ensure that the correct version of a song is found when matching CD rips or downloads.

  26. I ran into this article while looking for a list of genres as they appear in iTunes Producer…. yet another thing Apple doesn’t match up on… the genres (for distributors) who use iTunes Producer… are completely different than the genres being displayed on the itunes store –– Anyway, I wanted to help you with your tagging problem. Your best bet is to edit the tags (if you’re on a Mac) with Qoobar BEFORE adding them to itunes –– You can download qoobar at http://qoobar.sourceforge.net/en/download.htm –– Otherwise, if your music is already on iTunes, then remove it, tag it with qoobar, then re-add it to your library.

  27. Kirk – do you think Apple even cares about fixing the metadata issues in iCML? Or do you think they view this as a power user issue and not worth their time to fix.

    • Tough question. My guess is they think it only affects a small percentage of users, but also that it’s such a vast problem that they don’t even know where to start.

  28. Kirk – so i’ve tried iCML once again and lo and behold it hasn’t killed my metadata (for the most part). I’ve run into one issue and I wanted to see if you’ve seen it before… on iOS devices only within the “Album” view, some of my tracks are replacing track and album name with text i have in the “Grouping” field within itunes. This only happens where the tracks are viewed within the album structure (ie. Album, Artist, Genres). The tracks appear correctly when viewed in “Song” view or if viewed within a playlist. What’s weird is this only occurs on iOS devices. No problem on macOS, tvOS or even on Android (embarrassing). Since iCML is theoretically the source for all these devices, I can’t understand why the issue would only crop up on iOS devices. Have you seen or heard of this? Thanks

    • That is odd. It happens on multiple iOS devices? In that case, it’s the cloud database that’s messed up. You could try removing the tracks from your iTunes library, waiting a while, then re-adding them to see what happens.

      • Only on iOS devices and it happens on all of them. I’lll try removing and adding and see if that helps. Just when I get my hopes up about iCML… :-)

  29. I think it is time we revisited this article. While the 1st 6 months of Apple Music and the iCloud Music Library were rocky, my experience for the last year has been stellar – and iTunes ability to now work with my 24×96 sources and make lossy versions for the cloud has been insanely good, as it allows me to keep a lossless library int iTunes at the fidelity I record shows at and have it seamlessly flow to my iPhone. I couldn’t ask for a better celestial jukebox….

    • I was very happy when I stopped having metadata issues. But as I stated in my Jan 19 post, I’ve run into issues again. Hopefully they clear up for me. Regardless, i agree that iCML is much improved since its original launch

  30. On my iMac I have a large, curated iTunes library, consisting of over 80,000 songs and many playlists that I’ve been gradually building since 2002.

    I’m enjoying Apple Music and the recommendations it is making. Based on Kirk’s advice, I turned on iCloud Music Library only on my iPhone, and left it off on my iMac.

    But that has some limitations, namely the inability to add new tracks to my existing playlists. As a result they are frozen in time. I’m also unable to sync them any more to my iPhone as you can’t manually sync music once iCloud Music Library is on.

    So I’ve made several backups, and I’m going to turn iCloud Music Library on on all my devices and my iMac. I’ll report back on how I make out.

  31. I feel your pain. I have over 25,000 rap songs, and ITunes Apple music don’t care about the producer, nor spelling the artist name the same throughout the library.

    I use musosis, which is a mapping service that does not alter your files, but provides the detail on vocalists and producers the others don’t.

    It has some cool features like, filter by IsExplicit and Songs I don’t have by.

    https://www.musosis.com/

    Sorry only for rap music at this stage.

  32. I have a couple problems with the iTunes Store on my iOS device, unable to get any help or useful info from “support” reps. First, the “soundtracks/musicals” list is pitifully incomplete. There are tons of musicals that you can find if you search by name, but aren’t in the genre list. Makes it really hard to browse for new stuff. Second, the “name” tab in featured lists, which is alphabetical, tends to only populate halfway thru the alphabet. Again, it’s unfair to both artists and listeners when the only albums that show up are ones that start with A-L, for example. Tried more than once to contact support about this, with screenshots and all, only to be told (AFTER several emails exchanged) that I’m talking to the wrong department and to start over with someone else. Without providing me a surefire way of reaching that someone else. I’ve just about given up on ever finding answers here, but this thread seems to have some clever folks up in it lol

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