Did Apple Music delete these music libraries, or was it user error?

Apple Music
A former Apple Music subscriber claims his music was “removed” by the Cupertino company’s year-old streaming service, and others like 9to5Mac’s Ben Lovejoy have come forward claiming the same issue — that Apple deleted their locally-stored music after they began a subscription with Apple Music.

James Pinkstone, an Atlanta-based musician, details his account of what happened to his own original music, as well as to other songs he stored locally, after he signed up for Apple Music.

“iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive,” Pinkstone writes in his blog post. “Removed them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize — which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself — it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted.”

Pinkstone says 122GB of his locally-stored music files were simply gone. He could manually re-download them from the cloud, but at a lower quality using Apple’s AAC compression codec, as opposed to his original uncompressed WAV files. Many of his songs also reportedly switched to versions iTunes preferred. That included songs labeled explicit being swapped out for the radio-friendly version thanks to iTunes Match.

“So not only do I need to keep paying Apple Music just to access my own files, but I have to hear an inferior version of each recording instead of the one I created,” he said.

Thankfully, Pinkstone made backups.

Lovejoy says less than a month after switching to Apple Music he tried to listen to a few songs while on an airplane, but hardly any locally-stored music on his iPhone was present.

“Of all my favorite albums, lovingly selected as the ones I wanted to have available at all times, just a handful were still present,” Lovejoy said on 9to5Mac. “Others claimed to be present but in fact had just one or two tracks. Everything else had the cloud download icon next to it – which did me no good at all at 37,000 feet.”

According to Lovejoy, there are reports of this happening on Macs through iTunes as well, though he says it’s far less common.

We have reached out to Apple for comment about the reports of deleted files, but have yet to hear back.

Macworld’s Kirk McElhearn, also known as the “iTunes Guy” in his column, says neither Apple Music nor iCloud Music Library deletes music files. He believes what happened to Pinkstone is likely user error.

It’s true that iTunes scans your music library, trying to match your files with music on Apple Music and the iTunes Store, when you use iTunes Match or the iCloud Music Library. When a song is matched, a record of that file is stored in the cloud, and unmatched music is uploaded. If your music was in a format that wasn’t AAC, this uploaded music is converted to 256 kbps AAC, according to McElhearn.

“If you retain all the original files on your computer, iCloud Music Library may change tags and artwork,” he said. “I suffered that in the early days, but it neither changes nor deletes any files in your iTunes library.”

It’s also worth noting that Apple Music now hosts a claimed 13 million subscribers, so if there is something amiss that causes music files to be deleted it appears to be happening to a very small percentage of users.

Where it can get a little confusing is when you delete music on an iOS device — it may remove files from your iCloud Music Library. And if you cancel your Apple Music subscription, your original files will still remain on your computer.

So it’s unclear what exactly caused the issue that Pinkstone, Lovejoy, and others are commenting on — but it largely seems to stem from a lack of thorough description or understanding of how Apple Music, and the iCloud Music Library, handles your music.

Hopefully, Apple will shed some light on these reports — but in the meantime, this is yet another reason to consistently back up your files to local hard drives or SSDs.


Grit and gear: How Chris Hershman went from retail clerk to music video director

How did Chris Hershman go from working a music retail job to working with bands like NEEDTOBREATHE and Switchfoot? The music video director and filmmaker talks to us about video, tech, and Nikon's new mirrorless.

Apple is still selling iPhones in China despite being ordered not to

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

Spotify is the best streaming service, but its competitors aren’t far behind

It can be hard to decide which music streaming service is for you, so we've picked out the individual strengths of the most popular services, aiming to make your decision a little easier.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.

From Paul McCartney to Mariah Carey, this is the best holiday music

Whether you're a fan of classic jazz standards or modern R&B masterpieces, there's something for everyone on our playlist of the best holiday music. Pour some eggnog and curl up by the fire, this one is sure to get you in the holiday…

From Jay Rock to Saba, these are the 50 best albums of 2018

We've spent the year listening to new albums, digging deep, and culling our master list into 50 favorites. From blockbuster releases to hidden gems, these are the best albums of 2018.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.

Apple Music may sign up more exclusive artists with purchase of Platoon

Apple purchased London-based Platoon, which is a startup that helps independent musicians get discovered by major labels. The acquisition may help Apple Music sign up more exclusive artists.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ becomes the most-streamed 20th-century song

Queen's iconic Bohemian Rhapsody has become the most-streamed 20th-century song. Knocking Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit off the top spot, the British band's 1975 classic has now been streamed 1.6 billion times globally.

Jam out in style with the 25 best playlists on Spotify

Music is the world's most potent drug, and the best playlists on Spotify will make you catch feelings. We've scoured the service for its top collections, and brought them together in one place -- for you.

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.
Home Theater

Radiohead, The Cure, and more to join Rock Hall of Fame. Listen to their hits

Radiohead, The Cure, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, and more have been selected to join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. Here are our favorite songs from the four artists' hit-filled careers.