The Mess in Music

Until I took out a trial of Apple Music last year, my iTunes Music Library was pretty simple. It had a large foundation of tracks build from my own audio CD library, and was topped off with quite a few albums purchased from iTunes. Without iTunes Match, it was all stored locally, and I used iTunes to sync my iPhone and iPads with appropriate selections of tracks.

Apple Music wanted it different, of course, and started to match my old tracks and store them in its Cloud. But it never got long enough to tuck many of my own tracks away, and when I cancelled the service just before the end of the free trial period, my Music Library wasn’t in too much of a mess – unlike those of others.

So now, with Apple Music long since gone, and no iTunes Match subscription either, my Music Library should have reverted to where it was a year ago, stored locally and synced via iTunes.

Instead, it remains a mess. Some tracks seem stuck in iTunes in the Cloud, although I cannot actually find any that will not play. iTunes sort of connects to the Cloud, but invariably reports errors. Each time I sync my iPhone or iPad, every single track in their music libraries gets copied across, apart from a core which invariably fail. Some tracks play regardless of whether I have an Internet connection, others have to be fetched from the Cloud each time I want to play them.

Not only did Apple Music not clean up after itself, but successive updates to OS X and iOS have only compounded the problems. Until I updated to iOS 9.3, for example, I was able to turn iTunes in the Cloud off. Now that control has vanished completely, although Music on the iPhone offers me far more tracks than just those which are synced to it.

I looked around for a straightforward solution. Apple’s support documents pretend that this sort of issue doesn’t happen, and therefore don’t even consider the possibility. But its support discussions, and those around the Internet, are full of people with persistent issues often far worse than mine.

A few people seem to have found a solution, but it is so complex and apparently risky that I wasn’t prepared to fart around trying it. Perhaps one day, Apple will come up with yet another bright idea which unscrambles the mess. Or makes it even worse, so that I have to rebuild my whole Music Library from scratch.

So my Music Library and iTunes is a bit like a much-loved old car: they sort of work, so long as you don’t put them under much pressure. I am not prepared to pay for Apple Music, which I barely used because of its failure to cater for eclectic but minority musical tastes. It would be really nice, though, if I could get back to where I was before it happened upon us.