Goodbye, Apple Music

Full disclosure: I’m not a “music person.” I like music, but I don’t love music. My iTunes Library has around 2500 songs, mostly ripped from CDs I’ve owned for years. When a song comes up on rotation in my library, I probably know all the words. I spend less than $50 a year on new music purchased through iTunes. I don’t listen to the radio and when I am listening to audio, either in the car or around the house, 90% or more of the time I’m listening to spoken word content, generally podcasts and sometimes audiobooks. 

When I listen to music, it’s an intentional act. Perhaps I’m in the car on a long drive and want something different. Or maybe I’m feeling in a specific mood and want to listen to a song or one of my handcrafted playlists based my feelings or the occasion. I sometimes listen to music for an extra adrenaline boost when working out. Most of my music discovery these days comes from music I hear when I’m out and about (a lot of it from my weekly Spin classes at the gym) or from popular music I’m exposed to in everyday life.

I’ve laid out all of the above to give a frame of reference so you can take what I’m about to say in context. 

I’ve never subscribed to a streaming music service so when Apple introduced their music solution I wasn’t particularly excited. Still, this was a new Apple product and part of my “job” is to dive deep and try it out. I signed up for the free trial and spent several hours evaluating Apple Music for the Mac Power Users Podcast David and I recorded on the subject

All in all I was pleasantly surprised by Apple Music. I enjoyed having access to a vast catalog of songs and it was nice to be reintroduced to music I had long forgotten. Still, Beats 1 and Connect just weren’t services I was interested in. While my initial experience with Apple Music was positive, I wasn’t convinced that I would continue to stay subscribed after the free trial period. I just didn’t care about music enough to pay $9.99 a month for the service. David clearly felt very differently about the service and he and his family are seeing great value and entertainment. We all have different things we choose to spend our discretionary income on, who is to say any one indulgence is better than another. 

Last week when I was on vacation I ran into trouble with Apple Music that convinced me to cut my trial short and turn the service off all together. I have about a dozen playlists that I’ve taken time to create myself in iTunes. Some are hand crafted with individual songs, others are smart playlists based on specific criteria. While making the 7+ hour drive from Las Vegas, Nevada to Moab, Utah I connected to my iPhone to our rental car and decided to turn on one of my favorite playlists to provide music for the trip. 

“Hey Siri, play playlist ‘Soulful’, shuffled.” 

But that didn’t work. Turns out that playlist, one of my favorites, along with a half dozen more were gone. While all of my songs appeared to be synced to the phone, without any rhyme or reason, several playlists were missing.I checked my preferences and settings and tried various troubleshooting techniques. I couldn’t find any reason for the missing playlists not to sync to my phone, and I couldn’t understand why some but not all of the playlists would appear. 

We continued on, and I started an Audiobook instead.

I didn’t bring my computer on the trip so I didn’t have access to iTunes for benefit of troubleshooting. It didn’t really matter, when I returned home I checked my iTunes settings, re-synced my iPhone and tried everything I could think of to get the playlists to sync, but nothing seemed to work. I could not get my missing Playlists to reappear until I turned off iTunes music and synced my iPhone manually. (No, I’m not running any beta software on these devices.)

Seems I’m not alone, the Apple Discussion forums are filled with reports of playlist sync problems. Thankfully my problems with Apple Music are nothing compared to Jim Darymple’s (see his updated post here) and I do have a full backup of my music. Aside form the sync issue I haven’t noticed any missing music or metadata.

I’ve decided the sync problem are too much a hassle. I’ve turned off Apple Music and gone back to syncing my iPhone manually, with a cable. Currently I’m not using any cloud service for my music, though I may decide to renew my iTunes Match subscription. However given my minimal use, I think at this point manually syncing my iPhone with iTunes every so often may be simpelest and most reliable method for me.