When iOS Devices Replace Artwork for Some of Your Albums

I’ve been irked recently by an annoying problem with music on my iPhone. Certain albums display with incorrect album art. Instead of the iOS Music app showing me the artwork that is embedded in my files, it shows different artwork. What it displays is artwork from “digital box sets,” rather than from individual albums. It took a lot of work to figure out why this was happening, but the results surprised me.

This article is quite long, because I want to lay out every aspect of what I’ve discovered. What I have seen may be also one of the causes of some of the sync problems users are seeing.

Note that, for now, I don’t think what I explain below is the cause of artwork getting shuffled on iOS devices; when artwork for one album displays on tracks of another album.

The Problem

I admit it, I’m a bit OCD about my iTunes library. I have lots of music, buy lots of CDs, and I painstakingly tag my files and add album artwork. In some cases, it’s easy to find artwork on the web; in others, I scan CD inserts or covers.

So when I navigate the Music app in iOS to listen to music, I expect to see the artwork I’ve added to my files. However, there are cases where I see different artwork. Below you can see how Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde displays. On the left is what I see on my iPhone; on the right is the way it should display.


Blonde on blonde   Blonde on blonde orig

This began recently, some time after the iOS 8.1 update. I got a first reader email about it on January 16, but I only started seeing it myself in the past couple of weeks.

The Blonde on Blonde album I own was purchased from the iTunes Store; I bought at as part of the Bob Dylan: The Collection digital box set, back in 2006. The digital box sets the iTunes Store sells have their own artwork; this makes sense, in one way, so you can spot the tracks that are part of these box sets. There have been others: music by The Beatles, U2, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc. I have two others: the sets by Pink Floyd and U2.

After I bought the box set, I changed all the artwork, to that of the original album (as one should do). For years, I never saw that digital box set artwork again.

But, for some – not all – albums from my Dylan collection, I started seeing that digital box set artwork again. Yet that artwork is nowhere in my iTunes library.

After all, that artwork can make it nearly impossible to select albums. If you use the iOS Music app in landscape mode (I wonder if anyone does), here’s what you’d see with the same album art for all the Dylan albums:

Music app landscape

While each of the albums is tagged with an album number within the collection, it makes little sense for them to be tagged with the same name – as they are; Bob Dylan: The Collection – and the same artwork.

So, I set out to find out why this was happening. I honed up my geek skills and delved into the question.

Digging Deep

As you know, it’s not easy to access “files” on an iOS device. But, using iExplorer, I started browsing through my iPhone’s file system. I found a file named MediaLibrary.sqlitedb, which I exported. This is an SQLite database file, which turns out to be the iOS equivalent of an iTunes library file. Using the free DB Browser for SQLite, I was able to look inside that file. I found a lot of interesting things, but what applies to my problem is this. Several Bob Dylan albums show that their Sort Album is Bob Dylan: The Collection. Elsewhere in the database, these albums have links to a local artwork file, which is the artwork for that box set.

Sqlite dylan

Once again, that artwork is not in my iTunes library.

I deleted iTunes artwork caches, deleted all my music and re-synced, yet that artwork still displayed.

I then realized that the artwork must be coming from the iTunes Store. In order to test this, I deleted all the music from my iPod touch, and then put it in airplane mode. I then synced my Bob Dylan collection, and, lo and behold, all the music displayed the correct artwork.

Curious about this “phoning home,” I looked at my iPhone’s Console log while the sync was progressing. (You can view the Console log in Xcode for any connected device.) I saw a number of messages mentioning a process called itunesstored.


Feb 15 15:51:12 Hamlet wifid[68] <Notice>: WiFi:[445708272.188114]: __WiFiManagerSetEnableState: state TRUE, manager->enable.setting TRUE, manager->unlockedSinceBoot TRUE
Feb 15 15:51:12 Hamlet wifid[68] <Notice>: WiFi:[445708272.192314]: BG Application: Not Present, BG Daemon: Present. Daemons: assistantd apsd itunesstored
Feb 15 15:51:12 Hamlet wifid[68] <Notice>: WiFi:[445708272.209974]: Auto association attempt canceled because device is not powered.
Feb 15 15:51:13 Hamlet wifid[68] <Notice>: WiFi:[445708273.033123]: Client itunesstored set type to normal application
Feb 15 15:51:13 Hamlet wifid[68] <Notice>: WiFi:[445708273.033810]: __WiFiManagerSetEnableState: state TRUE, manager->enable.setting TRUE, manager->unlockedSinceBoot TRUE
Feb 15 15:51:13 Hamlet wifid[68] <Notice>: WiFi:[445708273.034848]: BG Application: Not Present, BG Daemon: Present. Daemons: assistantd apsd
Feb 15 15:51:13 Hamlet wifid[68] <Notice>: WiFi:[445708273.454818]: Client itunesstored set type to background application

Apparently, since the device was in airplane mode, it couldn’t contact the iTunes Store, and itunestored was unhappy. However, after syncing the device, only my artwork displayed.

It’s clear that iOS devices contact the iTunes Store during syncs to download information. This is actually obvious when you look at your Artists list in the iOS Music app. Some of the artists have photos that are unrelated to their albums; these are clearly pulled from the iTunes Store. All purchased music files have unique identifiers, for each track, album, and artist (though I haven’t found where these are stored in the files), and even for non-purchased tracks, the device sends artist names to the store to look for photos.

And, for some reason, iOS is changing the Sort Album for some albums to match the digital box sets they came from. The track IDs for each track are different from those on the individual albums (and from those of the same songs on what can be a large number of best of, compilation, and soundtrack albums), clearly identifying them as having been bought as part of a box set.

To sum up, when you sync music files, iOS sends information to the iTunes Store, and downloads album art for them, as well as artist photos (for those artists whose photos the iTunes Store has).

What about that phoning home?

I’ve explained that iOS devices phone home as music is synced; I’ve shown that, if the device is in airplane mode, then the album art is not replaced. This phoning home is not a problem, but I suspect that it is responsible for some sync issues.

When you sync music to an iOS device, you can look at the very bottom of the Songs list and see something interesting.

Downloading songs

I was syncing 1486 songs, and my iPod touch showed that they were “Downloading.” Now, this choice of terminology is clearly not correct; I see the same thing even if the device is in airplane mode. You’d expect to see that when downloading music from iTunes Match, but what’s happening, I suspect, is that this number shows the number of songs for which the iOS device has contacted the iTunes Store and downloaded information.

Even if the device is in airplane mode, I see this, because the device is trying to contact the iTunes Store. In that case, I see the messages that I show above from the device’s Console log, suggesting that itunesstored is not able to get a connection.

This also explains one annoying problem that sometimes occurs during syncs with iTunes. While that Downloading number was incrementing, I tried to start a new sync in iTunes, and got the message Waiting for sync to start. This makes sense; you can’t start a new sync if the previous one hasn’t finished. This explains why you may see that message, and also why you sometimes see the small turning arrows (look at the top of screenshot above) that indicate that a sync is in progress for several minutes after the sync has completed.

I suspect – but have no firm evidence for this theory – that this connection to the iTunes Store is recent, and may be part of the back end for Apple’s soon-to-be-announced streaming music service. (I don’t have any devices that run iOS 7; if anyone does have one, can you check and see if the same message displays below the Songs list?) Also, I suspect that one of the problems with iTunes syncing to iOS devices is somehow related to the fact that the sync is not just local, but that it also involves connecting to Apple’s servers for each and every track you copy.

It’s been shown that some sync issues are caused by purchased tracks. And iOS devices contact Apple’s servers for every track purchased from the iTunes Store (as well as non-purchased tracks). Perhaps the purchased tracks are causing some sort of problem. They are different from non-purchased tracks because they have specific identifiers that link them to the iTunes Store: the have identifiers for the artist, album, and song.

I’ve said it before, sync is hard. Looking at the database on the device, I can see how complex it is. But Apple needs to get this right; it’s too frustrating when you try to sync, and wait, and try again, and end up restoring your device just to be able to copy a new album.

Conclusion

To sum up, I’ve found why the wrong artwork gets displayed for certain purchased tracks. I’ve also found that if the device being synced has no network access, that artwork won’t get added. I haven’t yet seen if the correct artwork stays in place for more than one day. It may be that the iOS device queries the iTunes Store for each track only at the time each track is synced. In other words, if you don’t sync the same tracks after making changes, such as to any of their tags, then the correct artwork will remain visible. I’ve synced other tracks to my device, and still see the correct artwork for those Dylan albums.

I’ve also speculated that this phoning home may be part of the problem behind sync problems with iTunes and iOS devices. Only iOS devices seem to have these problems: syncing to an iPod classic, nano, or shuffle is problem-free. (I can attest that I have absolutely no problems syncing to my iPod classic.)

I have not found whether this artwork issue is related to similar problems when artwork displays for the wrong albums. I need to have this happen on one of my devices to be able to examine it more closely. I have also not found why, for some albums, artwork does not display at all.

Finally, I ask this question: why does Apple think that they should be able to change the tags and metadata on my music? This isn’t the only time they do it. They also change your tags if you have the Show iTunes in the Cloud purchases option checked. I don’t think anyone, especially Apple, should be able to change what I have chosen as the way I want to label my music.

47 thoughts on “When iOS Devices Replace Artwork for Some of Your Albums

  1. Excellent detective work. I to am very very OCD about album art and tags and find “under the cover” articles about iTunes fascinating, as they’re few and far between.
    And kudos on the John Foxx CDs in your collection. You have very far reaching, interesting, tastes in music.

  2. Kirk,

    You wrote : “when you sync music files, iOS sends information to the iTunes Store, and downloads album art for them, as well as artist photos (for those artists whose photos the iTunes Store has”

    Is this happening even if you are banning iCloud usage ?

    By the way, I am running iTunes 11 and iOS7 and does not experience this problem (i am a bit OCD on this too !)

    Paul

    • I’m not sure what you mean by “banning iCloud usage.” But this is happening even if iCloud Match is not active, and Show All Music is not enabled.

      I’m pretty sure this won’t happen with iOS 7, but I also need to now if it happens with iOS 7 and iTunes 12. My guess is that if you’re not seeing it, then it’s wouldn’t happen with iTunes 12 and iOS 7, since it’s an iOS thing.

  3. Awesome work. It’s beyond frustrating to put the effort into curating your own library via metadata only to have it crippled by Cupertino. I want so much to enjoy the benefits of Match, but I’ve witnessed the horror story disasters that result; and the specific art work scenario focused on here is just one aspect of a growing general problem with curating your own iTunes library.

    The question is whether this “Curated by Cupertino” is the result of bumbling execution and an irresponsible lack of user-based quality control testing — or specific intent. We do know that a core thesis of the looming dawn of Iovine’s vision is, in his own words, “what plays next” and “curation that is personalized for the user”. Is Cupertino’s curation going to be based on their metadata or mine?

    • It’s based on an ALBUM ID attached to each purchased track. There’s no way for the user to change it.

      • Excellent. So there is a piece of metadata that can not be edited by the owner of the music that connects it back to the iTunes universe. That should be sufficient for everything Cupertino needs. The question is who controls all the other (editable) metadata. Why is Cupertino so intent on controlling this data. They’ve never given a clear explanation of why they believe this is good for us.

        On a separate note, being an active editor of my music metadata (i.e., curating) I am always intrigued with the keyword/tag/comment systems others have constructed for their libraries. A post here sharing your system would be very interesting.

      • Apple is changing my artwork in my mp3 files music albums, although I have not purchased a single track from iTunes. I have embed arwork into my albums with mp3TAG app. When I copy my music from my PC TO MY IPHONE7PLUS, iOS9 and when I am on the cellular network, everything looks perfect, but as soon as I turn on my wi-fi somehow the phone connects to iTunes (or to wharever heck it is), artwork changes to whatever Apple wants. I turned off cellular data for Music, for iTunes, for iCloud. I just don’t know how to prevent iPhone Music app to connect to iTunes or to other internet resources via Wi Fi.

        One trick that I have tried, takes care of the problem halfway. Before I sync or copy my MP3 Abums to iPhone iOS9, I select all my albums (Ctrl A), right click, Properties, put check mark in Read-only square, select Apply and OK. After syncing even when I am on wi-fi, Apple changes my artwork to blank icon, so no more artwork chosen by Apple. So I have achieved some success, but not complete.

        Can somebody resolve this issue? Can somebody stop Apple from interfering our lives?

  4. Kirk, glad I came across this article. Thank you for researching, writing and posting. Like you I am very OCD about my music in iTunes and iOS and wanted to share with you my experience on this:

    While I’ve been familiar with iTunes forcing artist photos in the music app for quite some time (and I know this was the Apple’s intent), on my iPhone 6+ and iPad 4th generation I’ve been able to view the album cover art on the artist tab of the music app. I was even able to choose what album I wanted shown on the artist tab. I was able to do this by going into Settings>Music and toggle the “Group Artist by Album” to the OFF position.

    Since the update to iOS 8.2 last week on both of my devices I noticed my album cover art was gone and replaced by artist photos regardless of whether “Group Artist by Album” is ON or OFF.

    After deleting my music and even resetting my devices the album cover art would show in the artist tab once the album was transferred from iTunes, however within seconds (or as soon as I shut off airplane mode, or sign in to iTunes), the album art was quickly replaced with artist photos from iTunes.

    What its even more interesting is that when I updated my wife’s 6+ and iPad Air to iOS 8.2 her album cover art remained in the artist tab with the “Group Artist by Album” to the OFF position. But, when I logged out of iTunes with her ID and logged in with my ID the album cover art changed to the artist photos. Logging back into iTunes with her ID did not bring the album cover art back. This was the same on her iPad too.

    Not sure if my ID is corrupted or if iOS 8.2 (which does reference fixes to the stability of the music app) has “fixed” the music app, regardless of settings or ID, to make a successful connection to the iTunes store to grab those artist photos once a user logs out and back in to their iTunes account.

    • Hi there.
      That’s some interesting tests you did here.

      I have the same issue since I updated to iOS 8.2, even with the “group by artist” option off in my iPhone 5.

      From what you’re saying, the issue might come from some apple account config… I’ll try to find some burried down option and come back if I find any answer.

  5. I can’t quite understand what you guys are suggesting here. On my iPhone, running 8.3, the setting is labelled “Group By Album Artist” and I take that to mean that it should group using the “Album Artist” field, rather than the “Artist” field, not “group things together or not”.

    As far as I’m aware, this is one of those things that really only catches you out if you have compilations, or are the kind of user that goes through and retags their “Al Stewart” album with specific tracks as “Al Stewart and Lawrence Juber” or just “Lawrence Juber” (for the Black Danube :)

  6. Kirk, really appreciate your efforts on behalf of the countless numbers of us who have no time after sorting out other people’s technical problems to debug the reasons why every recent release of iOS makes the serious appreciation of music on apple devices incrementally more difficult and irritating. Can’t hardly use my music at all in the car now in the very costly system I had put in which holds the phone in landscape mode (album cover wall ? what a total joke). All my original, expensive, rare cover photos are gone ..I don’t want iTunes art, I want to see my own. The smiling apple store staff were keen to evangelise the benefits until I challenged them to find a track on a rare Led Zeppelin studio recording – as all 48 covers had been replaced by the “upgrade” to iOS8.3. They gave up after nearly 1/2 hour. I certainly *will* be filling-in the online “please let us know about your Apple experience”.
    ..and in portrait mode having to scroll through literally hundreds of tracks ? Makes it almost as useless a the landscape mode ! ..what planet are they getting their developers from these days ?

  7. Is the album artwork we spent years collecting and creating for our music collections now irretrievable, even from backups, now that iTunes Match has replaced it with their lo-res, subpar, or blank, versions? iTunes Match is useful for mobile, clearly, but I think it’s unreasonable to accept that our databases should be altered / compromised. Can you imagine a Numbers spreadsheet uploaded to iCloud, that weeks later displayed indiscriminately revised, meaningless values in its cells? The poem you wrote in Pages has been grammar-checked, your words replaced. Would we tolerate this reckless disregard from any other application?

  8. Thanks for digging into this. I’m appalled to think that there’s no fix for this. I loved my new iPod Touch 5G until the first time I turned on wifi, only to find all of my album art gone in seconds. My entire collection comes from my own CD rips or Amazon or other purchases…nothing purchased from iTunes. I can delete and re-add the files in iTunes, and the artwork will stay there until I turn on wifi again. But the whole point of upgrading my iPod Classic after all these years was to use FaceTime at work with my son. Now I’m torn if it’s even worth keeping the new iPod…like many of you, I’m OCD about my collection and my artwork. Is there nothing we can do to keep out own artwork?

  9. Glad to see this explanation re artwork substitutions with updated ios. I had noticed this annoying problem, but it’s not the worse problem with the 8.3 update. This update has now made it impossible to use my iPod in my car. Why? Because iTunes has decided to multiply my artist listings. Now many artists appear as 3 or 4 different artists and they are listed all over the alphabet. I can fix the problem on the iPod by checking the Group By Album Artist box. But when I plug the iPod into my car stereo, it reads the iPod as if this box is unchecked. So a collection of 50 classical tunes now shows up as 35 different artists, not one artist as in the past (and there’s no rhyme or reason to the artist names). I’ve been working with Apple Support for months, so far with no success. Clearly this problem relates to hidden data accompanying purchased tunes that is overriding my renaming efforts. Thus, my several Stephen Stills tunes are now showing up as three different artists: Stephen Stills, Buffalo Springfield, and Crosby Stills & Nash (even though I’ve renamed all of them “Stephen Stills”).
    See https://discussions.apple.com/message/28410316?ac_cid=op123456#28410316

    • Is this an iOS problem, or a problem with your car stereo? If it’s simply ignoring the Album Artist field, then there’s nothing you can do. I’m not sure how car stereos read from iOS devices: does the iOS device send the data, or does the stereo read the data itself?

      Try this. Take any album, delete the Artist tag, but leave the Album Artist tag intact. What does the car stereo show for that album?

      • In my experience, car players are not very sophisticated when it comes to reading metadata to begin with. A simple change in the iOS can totally confound a third-party player. Apple isn’t under any obligation to maintain compatibility with these devices, especially since it will be pushing CarPlay adoption.

        We also don’t know what (if any) preliminary changes under the hood in 8.3 Apple has made in consideration of Apple Music.

        That said, I couldn’t say if this issue is related to the way track entries on the iPod are configured (as of the iOS update), how the file metadata is configured, how the player reads and stores info from the iPod, and so on.

        Experimentation may be the only way to find a close-to-ideal set up.

        I gave up using iOS devices plugged in directly to my car (UConnect) and either use a prepared USB stick or a cheap Sabrent audio receiver for AirPlay support. (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L26YDA4/ref=pe_385040_121528360_TE_dp_1)

        • Doug, of course Apple has some responsibility to insure that updates do not make their devices inoperable for their intended purpose. IPods are often used in conjunction with the owners cars and stereo systems. They ought to make sure an update doesn’t make such typical conventional uses inoperable. I can no longer use my iPod in the car because I can’t locate artists and play all the tunes from a particular artist. Plus, the expansion of artists into multiple artists makes it impossible to scroll through the artist listings. As I said, my Darkest Classical collection is now 35+ artists. I basically had to delete this collection from my iPod.
          If an update is going to destroy operability, I should at least have the option to go back to the prior iOS where everything worked just fine.

          • “Apple has some responsibility to insure that updates do not make their devices inoperable for their intended purpose.”

            “Some”, but ultimately not much.

            While I agree that in an ideal world Apple would ensure its products play well with others, they would never do that in practice. Apple doesn’t consider third-party devices “conventional use”. Instead, Apple devices in the Apple ecosystem are for conventional use.

            I feel your pain. I have a desk drawer or two full of hardware that no longer works with iTunes, iPods, or iOS devices. At one time, my car player could control my iPhone. It no longer does. (Also, remember that car players may have to support dozens of different kinds of music players with different metadata/playlist formats. Car forums are full of these compatibility issues.) Third-party manufacturers have to keep up with Apple, not the other way around. Especially when Apple is pushing for adoption of a new service: to wit, wireless CarPlay. Plugging your iPod into your car is, sorry to say, old technology and Apple does not feel the need to support old technology; or, at the very least, has chosen to ignore it.

            Aside: I fear what the new Apple Music service will render unusable/obsolete next.

      • My two ipods (my wife’s and mine) used in two cars (2013 Lexus and 2014 Lexus) worked perfectly before the 8.2 and 8.3 updates. My Artists (or perhaps I should say Album Artists) were listed alphabetically in both the iPod and the car stereo – Al Kooper, Bonnie Raitt, Carol King, Chopin, Darkest Classical, Dave Brubeck, etc., . . . Stephen Stills, etc. It was only after the update that the Artists (ie, Album Artists) got scrambled up. My car stereo behaves as if Group By Album Artist is unchecked. If it is checked, the iPod lists the artists according to my preferred artist listings. However, the car lists the artists in the same way as the iPod if GBAA is unchecked. Obviously, Apple includes hidden and unchangeable metadata with its tunes. In some cases, it makes absolutely no sense. Thus, any classical collections are no longer listed as one artist (or album artist), which I have renamed as Chopin or Darkest Classical. I now see 30 or more artists, such as the name of the performing orchestra or the conductor, even though none of this info is in the Get Info details or sorting and cannot be changed. Thus, while I have renamed my Buffalo Springfield Artist and Album Artist as Stephen Stills so it is grouped with my other Stephen Stills, iTunes has mysteriously renamed and sorted it as Buffalo Springfield, even though this name appears nowhere in the Get Info details. I noticed this problem initially with some Simon and Garfunkel tunes. One tune got lost. I later found it listed as Paul Simon because it was from a Paul Simon album. My renaming of Artist and Album Artist to Simon & Garfunkel was ignored in favor of iTunes re-categorization as Paul Simon, even though that info is not in the Get Info details or sorting.

  10. iOS 8.4, no iTunes Match or Apple Music. Today, listening to an old track ripped from an owned CD which definitely has the right album artwork in iTunes and saw the wrong artwork (not even the right artist) in the music app. To top it off, getting the info on that song/album and the correct artwork displays but the wrong artwork still shows while viewing the player controls.

    Thanks for tracking this down but I’m doubtful we have the whole story.

  11. I’m seeing this on my iPhone 6 plus as well. The latest album to have this problem is Vault: Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits • 1995. On my Mac the album artwork displays fine. On my iPhone some songs show no artwork, while others show this hideous artwork from an album titled Mirror Ball: Live & More. There is no mention of this second album name in the file.

  12. hi! I was wondering if you knew how to apply the picture that iTunes replaces on all the songs? Ive noticed that while scrolling through the artists on the music app on the iPhone it will display artwork that i haven’t chosen, but when i click into the song to listen to it, it will then display the artwork that i have chosen. For one particular artist, I actually prefer the image that iTunes has chosen, i was wondering if you knew how to get this image applied to the songs as well instead of the album, i can’t find the image anywhere online! thanks in advance :)

  13. Great article. So is the final take-away that if I do not want my device to download the artwork that already erased on Itunes.. the only way to avoid it is not to connect at all? Just stay on airplane mode and all will stay as it is on Itunes? That effective eliminates the ipad’s usage for anything connected after than.. no? Thanks again very much. Best and only article that captures and correctly analyzed the issue.

    • Well, after you sync, the device won’t download artwork. It only does so during the sync process (unless you later download music from the iTunes Store, Apple Music, etc.).

    • Yes, it’s easy enough to turn the Airplane mode Off again if you want to use the Touch or iPad for internet use. But to synch, just turning on Airplane mode prevents iTunes from putting their artwork in your library. I’m grateful to the author who figured this out.

  14. Well, as a low-tech senior citizen, I found that on my new iPod Touch (Gen 6) with OS 9.2.1, if I turn on airplane mode, then synch, all MY artwork is shown—not iTunes’ digital box selections. Then, I can turn airplane mode off, and use the internet, Email, etc. Only my library artwork shows as long as I don’t synch. When I do, I simply go to airplane mode. Actually, 99% of the time I’m not synching songs from my library. Guess maybe everyone knows this already, but I was disappointed just getting my iPod Touch and seeing strange-looking artwork on it.

  15. Under edit info in iTunes if you add a space after artist’s name, iTunes won’t recognize him or her and won’t F$%^ up your artwork you chose. just highlight all the songs by that artist and put like Queen and hit space bar once, it will make all songs by them work the way it should.

  16. Thanks very much for the suggestion, switching to Airplane Mode on my iPod 128Gb while synching worked like a charm. I was increasingly frustrated with with the device reaching to the the iTunes store and changing both artwork and sort settings to comply with a cloud service that I don’t use. I was especially testy about it adding artist artwork, and also changing my custom artist sort info (Surname, First name) back to the store settings (i.e. my sort artist is “Brown, James” and it changes it to “James Brown”). Using Airplane Mode to keep it offline during the synch was not something I had thought of, so thanks again. Phil’s suggestion above also makes god sense, but I don’t really want to go through and change the artist name on 20K+ tracks :)

  17. Has anyone noticed this behavior? The artwork seems to disappear especially / exclusively for files in my library that are 1411 kbps that I have created myself and are not available in the iTunes Store? I have my theories as to why iTunes has trouble with such files, but I would like to hear from you all if my experience is typical and expected?

  18. I don’t have this specific issue, I have a slightly different one; I have music purchased from iTunes as well as music ripped from CDs. both kinds of files will have the wrong album art on my iPod. and every single time, it’s artwork for a completely unrelated album. for instance, I have the song “Lost in the Shadows” by Lou Gramm from “The Lost Boys” soundtrack. for at least a day, it displayed that album artwork. the next time it played, it had the artwork for Ellie Goulding’s Halcyon album, which I also own some songs from. so this article unfortunately doesn’t explain my issue and I have no way of resolving this. all I know is it’s driving me CRAZY not having the correct artwork for my music.

    • I forgot to mention that sometimes the artwork will then change to another unrelated album some time later. I don’t see the same artwork for one song song all the time with some files.

  19. Thanks for the fix! Solved my recent issue with artwork on iphone 6s, ioS 9.3.3, after upgrading to itunes 12.5. Still resisting on upgrading to itunes 10, since volume adjust works on the PC, but has stopped working when you go listen to the tracks on the iphone.

  20. Hi Kirk,

    I don’t know if you can help me or not but, Im having this same artwork problem. The thing is that I dont have an iPhone :/

    I also have all my music meticulously organised in itunes at all times and I copy my files from my coputer to my phone (Nexus 5 or Nexus 6P), but alot of the songs have wrong artwork and very few even dont have the artist name (just says unknown artist).

    If you can help, that would be one things off my OCD head lol

    Thank you,
    Angad :)

  21. Just giving iTunes Match/iCloud Music Library a try for the first time, and noticing plenty of metadata shenanigans in my main iTunes library on my Mac (iTunes 12.7.3.46).

    The struggle against iTunes-purchased tracks is real. Album artwork is overwritten with the iTunes Store versions. Albums that I split into two are recombined, resequenced. I’ve seen plenty of other metadata reverted (artist, album artist, year, genre), as well.

    But, just now noticed that an album of AACs ripped from a CD — so, a non-iTunes purchase — also had its album artwork changed. The iCloud status for that album’s tracks were labeled as “Matched”. But the replaced artwork doesn’t even match the version of the album that’s in the iTunes Store. Seems random. Disturbed that even non-iTunes purchases are affected by the automatic metadata modifications/reversions.

    I’ve also noticed sorting fields modified — with the exact same info that would otherwise show up in the default (blank) field. E.g. Artist: David Bowie, Sort as: David Bowie — but “David Bowie” is typed into the sort field; it’s not in ghosted gray type. (I’ve only seen this happen on purchased tracks so far.)

    Again, all of this is happening in my main iTunes library, not just in devices hooked up to my iCloud Music Library (i.e., Apple TV). I’ve been manually changing things back to how they were on my Mac, and I can see the changes take effect on the Apple TV. So, that’s been reassuring. But I don’t know how long they will last. Hard to keep track of the changes. If it was just purchased tracks, I could keep an eye on those. But if my whole library is subject to these modifications, that’s a lot tougher.

    One more thing: I’ve also seen iTunes Match/iCloud Music Library replace all the art for an album with a single image. So you can’t have different artwork for different album tracks, or multiple artwork in one track. Even after re-embedding each track with its own artwork, all of the album’s tracks eventually revert to one image. If a track has multiple images in the artwork field, they are all replaced.

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