iCloud Music Library Screws Up Album Artwork

Okay, Apple, you’ve done it again. You’ve screwed up my album artwork. And it’s really, really annoying.

After turning on Apple Music and iCloud Music Library, I noticed that a lot of my albums had artwork that was wrong. Here are some of my Bob Dylan albums in iTunes:

Apple music album artwork

The Pat Garret and Billy the Kid cover is wrong, the Planet Waves, Shot of Love and Side Tracks albums all show artwork for Biograph, and WTF is that with the Real Live artwork, which shows the Silver Linings Playbook soundtrack artwork?

Lots of my albums are showing no artwork at all; for some reason, this is the case with a lot of my Beatles albums. Most of my David Bowie albums have the incorrect artwork, and the artwork for this Grateful Dead album is totally wrong; it’s a live album, so it simply can’t be in the Complete Studio Rarities Collection. (And, anyway, it’s from my CD rip, and that collection is only available on the iTunes Store.)

Apple music dead artwork

For now, I’ve only turned on iCloud Music Library on my MacBook Pro; this Mac has a test library, and I’m not about to risk my full library.


31 thoughts on “iCloud Music Library Screws Up Album Artwork

  1. Apple Music will not touch my master library until this is straightened out. What it does to album art is best characterized as vandalism.

    What I immediately noticed is that Apple Music substitutes its own album art even for many tracks that I had already added the correct art. What’s worse, Apple Music substitutes the most ridiculous generic album covers. E.g. for Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” the famous “Talking Book” album art has been replaced by an ugly compilation photo — some kind of generic “Stevie Wonder #1’s” cover. An even worse example- correct, original album art nuked and replaced by an “Ultimate 70’s Hits” cover photo — a stock photo of an FM radio dial. It used to be a pleasure to view album art on the big iPhone 6 Plus screen, but now it’s an ongoing insult.

    What was it that Apple execs were saying about how Apple values music? Album art is a important part of music culture, and Apple Music is destroying it.

  2. I was interested in trying out iTunes Music (or what the heck is it called now?), but this is an absolute game-breaker for me.

    What happens when you re-add your own album art?

    Please keep us updated on this. Thank you!

  3. From my limited testing, scrolling in iTunes 12.2 seems to be more responsive. This may be due to a change in the way artwork is cached. Until Apple sorts this out we may have to suffer with viewing the artwork of their choice, even if some of it is comically bad. ?

  4. iTunes 12.2 and Apple Music have shredded my playlists, album art, it’s renamed files and linked tracks to wrong files, wrong artists. It’s a disaster (18,567 tracks). I see some mention of this online but not much. Any ideas? It’s happened again after I fixed many of the problems. (I have complete backups, but am holding off.) Movies and Home Videos were shuffled as well.

  5. This album art issue has been driving me nuts. The art on my iPhone got all screwed up, and like others, I’m waiting before I hit the iCloud switch on my “master” library on my server PC. Here’s how it went for me so far:

    – Activated Apple Music on my iPhone. Album art for local files went haywire. Metadata (aside from art) and audio files appear to be untouched.

    – Installed iTunes 12.2 on my “client” PC – which doesn’t have any local music. Activated iCloud Music. “My Music” populated with matched versions of the songs on my iPhone. Same (original) metadata as iPhone tracks, same incorrect (post-Apple Music) album art, but the actual audio is “matched” from Apple servers and sometimes different from original (clean/explicit switches mostly).

    – I added my own rip of “Rage Against The Machine” to my local library. This part was interesting. For a moment, my three matched RATM tracks (with the cloud icon) coexisted with the ripped album, as a single album with a few duplicate tracks. Then the matched tracks disappeared, leaving only my local files, all with my original embedded album art! This has persisted after a machine reboot, and even after turning iCloud Music Library off and back on again. The RATM album has my own album art, ans seems to be coexisting happily with the matched content and the new Apple Music content (stuff I’ve added with the “+” button). Hopefully, this is the behavior that persists – album art in LOCAL files receiving priority. If this isn’t the case on a mobile device, but sticks for desktop iTunes, I can live with that. I am wondering if anyone else can vouch for this with similar experiences.

  6. I have manually added art for almost all of my 100GB+ library… all undone with this recent update. (on my phone anyway). singles have the same cover as the album, compilation albums all over the place. Apple needs to “default” to locally stored artwork, and look elsewhere if no art has been embedded in the individual files.

    • Gabe: “Hopefully, this is the behavior that persists – album art in LOCAL files receiving priority.”

      It’s not an entirely simple issue. For most iTunes users- unless they bought all their music online instead of ripping CDs- their album art situation is mostly terrible, and almost anything may be an improvement.

      Apple is probably concerned about confusion arising if different songs from one album have different cover art, which might be the case if iTunes always honors embedded art, but the user then adds tracks from Apple Music with different art. Actually, there’s a lot of potential for other album metadata conflicts, since there’s no guaranteed one-to-one correspondence between tracks and albums. Many compilation albums embed the compilation release date instead of the original music release date, so you get 80s music dated e.g. “2002,” etc.

      I think the best solution may be a preferences switch- “Prefer embedded album art and track info.” Maybe the default is “off.” People who don’t care get the simple default behavior, and music fans/experts won’t see their years of hard work thrown away by Apple Music.

      • I wonder if this all isn’t a way to get rights fees for ripped music. If Apple is replacing your ripped copies with stuff it choses, or “matching” or “improving” whatever. .. guess who owns the rights to that nice shiny new copy it just replaced your ripped artwork or ripped track with.

        Replace free today, pay rights fee tomorrow.

        For now, this thread has taught some very important caution. My 25 years worth of music I’ve ripped and created from my own CD is going nowhere near iCloud.

        • Apple doesn’t ever remove music you already have in your library, or force you to buy music again. That’s a mistaken impression that some peoplle got after they deleted their own music, misunderstanding how the cloud works for streaming. Still, Apple syncs bad cover art, which ois really frustrating.


    • I just checked the artwork and some of the music I have is fairly new country artists and everything is fine. My playlists are intact as well. I am opting to not use Apple Music though, don’t see the point.

  8. My problem is on the iOS side. Compilation album songs do not show up under the respective artists, even if those artists’ songs are the only ones on the particular album. iOS 8.0 really had problems with compilation albums which weren’t cleaned up until 8.3. Now, it’s broken again in 8.4. Whoever the programmer is that is in charge of building the music database should be fired.

  9. I’m so glad I didn’t update to the newest iTunes and I probably won’t until they fix this. I got all of my artwork back by turning off Apple Music on my iPhone and resyncing my music. I’m assuming the new iTunes does exactly what Apple Music does and changes it on your computer as well.

    • To make this clear.

      It’s not the latest iTunes update that is causing this stir here, but activating Apple Music.


      Or even clearer: Can I safely update my iTunes?

      • That’s correct. It’s the iCloud Music Library that is messing things up. So if you are using iTunes Match, then you’ll need that turned on.

        I haven’t updated iTunes on my main Mac yet, only on my laptop, which I use for testing.

  10. Ever since I turned off “Automatically download album artwork” in prefs and deleted everything in the Album Artwork cache folder, I couldn’t be happier. (had to upload my own artwork, but that’s fine, prefer it embedded in the music file anyway)

    I haven’t turned on iCloud Music Library, but I wonder if it ignores the preference setting.

    • That’s a curious point. I’ll say that I do my best to avoid embedding images directly into audio files, preferring instead the downloaded artwork db whenever possible. Mainly to avoid redundancy & wasted storage on my mobile devices, but also to ensure a consistent filesize/quality balance (if iTunes refuses to download artwork for an album that is available in the store, I’ll grab it from the store manually & embed). One also sidesteps the png upconversion issue this way, which still persists in 12.1.

      Yet somehow most seem to prefer the manual embed method. Are you guys all carrying 160Gb ipods around?

      • Oh, I hear ya’. I’m pretty sure it was mental illness that made me upload my own art. It was the constant *incorrect art*,however, that drove me up the wall. File size does increase (sometimes quite noticeably), but I’ve never, ever had an incorrect album cover since. It’s compromise, that’s for sure, but I think I’ve only had to sacrifice about 10% of the amount of songs I used to carry to accommodate the extra artwork.

        (I *wish* I had a 160gb iPod, still making do with a 32gb iPhone 4s)


    I have Apple Music with iCloud activated and the same problem with different album artwork in iCloud (uploaded file) than in iTunes (original file). Now I have figured out a workaround that fixes the problem. It’s a little bit time-consuming but it works for me, especially for the albums I’m very fond of:

    – Delete the album from your iCloud music library. I did it on my iPhone (iOS). The original files will be marked with a x-cloud in iTunes (OS X).

    – Rename the meta data (album + artist) of the original files with something unreal. I renamed the album “Victim Of Love” + “Charles Bradley” to “VOL” + “CB”.

    – Click the x-marked-clouds next to the songs to upload the files again. When finished I can find the album “VOL” by “CB” with the original album artwork on my iPhone.

    – Rename the files in iTunes back to the original artist and album meta data.

    – Refresh the iCloud music library in iTunes.

    – Now you can find the album (original artist name + album title) with the correct artwork in your iCloud! Everything is fine again (for now) and you can enjoy your favorite albums without irritation.

    I know the workaround is not very smooth, but I hope Apple with develop something better for the future.

  12. I agree , I may not have 1000’s of songs, but being a little ocd ,I do like the albums especially 2 or 3 discs if a compilation to all have the same album cover.
    Once I turned on icloud music, it even stupidly gives 3 different covers for the SAME album !!!
    So have turned off and it reverts to how I had it, just annoying as can’t save any music I like to ‘my music’
    Something so simple and yet a complete mess up !!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  13. Apple’s insensivity to the beauty of album artwork is insanely stupid. Were Jobs alive today, the one who endorsed the delete of album view should have long been kicked out of the company!! Apple Music broke my heart with its outrageous design!

  14. The problem is that if you only use Apple Music for streaming, fine. The minute you want to download for offline listening – BAMM! Everything is screwed! iTunes Match is a disaster – not only album covers are all over the show, but tracks replaced with different versions or even remixes. It’s a real mess. Free trial has been cancelled!

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