iTunes 12.2: The iCloud Music Library Debacle

Just after iTunes 12.2 launched, I wrote about how it messes up album artwork, replacing my carefully selected artwork with graphics pulled from the iTunes Store. This happens on tracks I’ve ripped from CDs.

iCloud Music Library is a disaster. It changes artwork, alters tags, and many tracks are unavailable, having the “Waiting” iCloud status. Here’s an example of how much of a mess it is.

I have a number of live recordings of Bill Evans in 1980. They come from three box sets, and each set is labeled with its date, and the artwork from the box set.

Bill evans artwork

On my test Mac, running iTunes 12.2 with iCloud Music Library turned on, here’s a playlist of that music.

Bill evans icloud music library

You can see that the artwork is different for every single track, and that several of the tracks are dimmed; they are “Waiting” for iCloud Music Library to do something. They’ve been waiting for several days now, and this doesn’t correct when I sign out of my iTunes Store account and sign back in again, or when I turn off iCloud Music Library and turn it back on.

This means that I cannot access much of my music that is stored in iCloud Music Library (which I added to iTunes Match, before the release of iTunes 12.2). Out of 9,733 tracks in my iTunes library, 972 are dimmed and show the iCloud status as Waiting.

Add to that 1,627 tracks that are marked as Apple Music, but are tracks that I ripped and matched using iTunes Match, and about one quarter of my iCloud Music Library library is borked.

Thanks, Apple.

26 thoughts on “iTunes 12.2: The iCloud Music Library Debacle

  1. How can I be sure that the iCloud Music Library is turned off on my devices? I do not have Apple Music turned on, I do not subscribe to iTunes Match and I do not use Genius. I am logged into my iTunes account. This is true on all my devices, iPods, iPhones, iMac and iPads. Am I safe from this interference?

  2. And of course, here comes Appleinsider with their usual blinders on, singing the praises of everything Apple as they always do:

    Interestingly, in iOS 9 the other day, which currently does not allow for one to see iTunes purchases that have not been downloaded (at least not in my beta), I suddenly had My Music populated by a bunch of things I had not synced to my iPhone and then realized they were purchases in the cloud. Finally went away on its own, but weird. I do not have iTunes Match nor iTunes in the Cloud; never have and never will. Geez. Glad you’re running this nonsense on a test system. It sounds like a major clusterfuck.

  3. I’d love to try Apple Music, but I’m staying away because I’ve had iTunes destroy my library twice before. Upgrading had become a total fear-fest. Thank you for documenting your problems and reminding me of this fact! It’s so hard to avoid the hype machine surrounding Apple Music.

    And the lack of detailed information from Apple is shameful. I still can’t tell if I upgrade an iOS device to 8.4, will I be able to sync to the pre-Apple-Music iTunes.

    • I updated my phone (the big Apple Music update), and was still able to sync from pre-12.2 iTunes. However, I was not able to perform a sync until I deactivated iCloud Music Library on the phone.

  4. Thank you for the warning!

    I have updated one of my iOS devices so that I could preview Apple Music. This does not appear to wreck my library.

    But I’ve avoided iTunes 12.2 so far. Is it your view that updating iTunes will likely cause harm even though updating iOS has not?

    (FYI I am an iTunes Match subscriber with about 16,000 tracks that are fairly well organized, often with carefully curated album art.)

    Thanks again!

  5. I’m curious about something related. Before the 12.2 debacle — and even now after I have recovered from a backup iTunes folder — I see that whenever I play a track purchased from Apple the file updates. This seems true even if I later buy the CD and rip the track and the played file is no longer the Apple version.

    What’s changing in the file? Why?

  6. So I record my own DJ sets, all ranging between 1.5 and 3 hours and trying to get them on my iPhone has become impossible: iTunes tells me the phone has the iCloud library activated and thus music can’t be copied over manually. But as my sets are “too long” (and at 256kbps clock in at over 200mb), they appear in my devices’ libraries but can neither be uploaded nor played (except for my Mac with the original file). So I have to take the “old” workaround known from iTunes Match – tell iTunes the file is a podcast or audiobook (but then it’s not part of my music library anymore..).

    *sigh* It’s Marco’s “death by a thousand cuts” all over again. The average consumer might be ok with this, but step out of the norm and you’re left with non-existing or obscure support at best – without the community of Mac users out there, many an enthusiast might’ve given up on Apple years ago.

    As long as you’re staying in the walled iOS garden, things are ok. But us Mac folks start becoming the little bastard children of Apple with our “open” platform where music not purchased on iTunes can still exist.

    • I believe you can sync “the old-fashioned way” if you disable iCloud Music Library on both iTunes and the iOS device. I had to reboot my phone as well, but I was able to get the old syncing options to reappear in iTunes after that.

        • Yeah it stinks. I’d love if you could use Apple Music with everything but the iTunes Match-style part. I suppose I could enjoy Apple Music on my phone at least. But since I can’t even activate iCloud Music Library on my computer (over 25,000 songs), that means I’d have to choose between Apple Music and the ability to sync my own music. Terrible.

  7. I never even signed up for iTunes Match, but the process of updating files and libraries to iCloud Music Library messed up everything: Adding an album to ‘My Music’ on my phone or iTunes downloaded and replaced songs in ripped or purchased albums with the same name by the same artist (so, for example, a ripped live album by Tony Bennett would have some of its songs of the same name replaced by the addition to My Music of a studio Tony Bennett album.) Metadata was changed; file names changed; songs I had been syncing for 8 years no longer synced — gone from my iPhone and/or iTunes library; songs that the iTunes library has been playing for years now have to be ‘Located’…sometimes the reason is the path for the ‘missing’ song is in an applications Content sub-folders.

    I tries the ‘iTunes Library.itl’ replacement fix. It is useless because so many of the files themselves were changed and the old library file can’t find them in their new form.

    Maybe this would have been worth a major OS upgrade (iOS9 or El Capitan); but for an interim release with the marquee delta being Apple Music, I feel like I got screwed. It may take months of ‘what the?’ on my iPhone and subsequent iTunes file and metadata repair before I can be sure all of my songs have synced over to my phone.

    I’m thinking I will replace all my music files from a pre-Apple Music back-up, and then replace, again, the iTunes Library.itl file. Maybe that will do it.

    A sad time in Apple Land. Much good will lost here.

  8. My meta data seemed fine after the upgrade but some of my playlists were still showing in 12.1.2 format and some in the shiny new 12.2 format (without my star rating and comments and a greyed out view options option so I couldn’t add them!) but what was the real deal breaker was the spinning wheel I got every time I double clicked to play a tune and then again when I clicked into a track to demo it, which I do very often. This is not an issue I have seen reported but would be interested if anyone else was suffering from general slowness issues?

    Anyway this was completely unacceptable so I rolled back to 12.1.2 as I have documented in a blog post if anyone else also needs to do so –

  9. So many things about Apple Music that are confusing. I was listening to a dance playlist the other day, and even hearted the playlist and all the individual songs I liked in the playlist, but I forgot the names of the artists, so I can’t even go back to hear what it was that I liked! It seems the only way to save a history of anything you played and liked in the past is to enable iCloud, and that, I WILL NOT DO!

  10. Does any of this even matter to Apple? I’ve had these exact problems since I renewed iTunes Match in April, which, not coincidentally, was just before iTunes 12.1.2 came out, which slowed Match to a crawl and kept getting things wrong: Purchased music was being listed on Match as Matched, not Purchased. metadata wouldn’t change, the whole thing took days. I couldn’t find a solution after complaining, filing reports, frequenting message boards looking for similar issues. Finally, after almost 6 weeks, I just turned it off and hoped 12.2 would fix things.

    It fixed things alright this past week: the specific tags I entered for my music were overrode by Apple, which meant after redownloading all my Purchased music in order to get them to be listed as Purchased, it wouldn’t take my metadata. Deleting or changing one song in iTunes in that iCloud Music Library can take several minutes, with no guarantees that the information I used for my music will stay put. I spent $25 to renew a product with flaws, only to never use it because Apple never repaired it to make it worth using. And they want $10/month after the “free trial period” when they haven’t fixed a long-bugged “complimentary yet independent” program I’m already tied to for another 9 months?

    The lone saving grace was that this has forced me to back up my music library. I’d been lax in that; I wouldn’t even try anything Apple Music-related without a solid backup until they decide that there’s something rotten in the state of Cupertino, and it’s their stinkin’ Cloud.

  11. I think my problem is a little different. My iTunes library on my PC seems perfectly fine after upgrading to 12.2 – all the album artwork I created over the years is still there – but when I sync to my iPhone (now with Apple Music) it only has album artwork from my albums purchased from iTunes, the ones I ripped from CDs and pasted in, are gone. Why does this happen?

    • That’s the cloud changing things. When I first updated my iPhone, I saw a huge mess in my artwork. But I hadn’t yet – and still haven’t – updated iTunes on my iMac, where I store my main music library. It sounds like you haven’t turned on iCloud Music Library on your PC.

  12. The real question is: Why isn’t Apple acknowledging this? Apple store staff claim they haven’t heard of this and support told me this has happened to just a “fraction” of users.

    And no fix is offered. I could even live with messed up artwork for now but my library doesn’t even play the correct song. Or if the artwork is correct, the song is a totally different band!

    My computer, phone and pad are all a mess. The only thing that is normal is my ancient iPod and you can bet I won’t be attempting to sync that any time soon.

  13. Not only has iTunes via icloud changed album artwork, its also changed some of the songs to different versions; presumably because Apple didn’t have a version of the original CD. Which is massively worrying. I also have the faded songs, annoyingly not even a whole album but random songs within an album.

    Increasingly disillusioned with Apple, is anyone there listening?

    • Same problems, feel the same way. So much time down the drain because of this; I have lost so much trust in them. They are worse than Big Brother.

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