The Most Annoying iCloud Music Library Issues We Hate to See

Posted on August 12th, 2015 by

iCloud Music Library annoyances header image

I recently wrote about a number of Apple Music annoyances; issues you may see when using Apple's new streaming service. But there's another source of headaches in the latest version of iTunes: iCloud Music Library. What's going on with iCloud Music Library?

First, you need to understand exactly what iCloud Music Library is and a little about how it works. This cloud storage feature includes iTunes Match as well as the part of Apple Music that stores music you add to your personal iTunes library. If you have an iTunes Match subscription, then iCloud Music Library replicates its features. If not, if you're only using Apple Music, on a free trial or a paid subscription, iCloud Music Library manages the music and playlists that you add to your iTunes library from Apple Music.

One source of confusion for iTunes Match subscribers is the fact that you no longer see the term iTunes Match anywhere in iTunes. While you're still paying for this service — $25 a year — be aware that iTunes is not mentioning it anymore.

There are some problems you may encounter with iCloud Music Library. Here's a look at some of the most annoying iCloud Music Library issues, and if possible, how to fix them.

Matching Blunders

iCloud Music Library, together with Apple music, offer a feature that matches your local iTunes library with music in Apple's cloud. In many cases, this matching works correctly. But, since iCloud Music Library matches music by only looking at your music's metadata, it can make mistakes. For example, if you have a live album, iCloud Music Library may match some of its tracks to studio versions. It may also match tracks to greatest hits albums, compilations, or even soundtracks. And it often matches explicit versions of songs to clean versions. Because of this, matching is not very reliable, and it can be annoying to find that, when you try to play some of your music from the cloud, you're not getting the same tracks that you matched.

Faulty Album Artwork Display

Just as iCloud Music Library can match music incorrectly, it may also display the wrong album artwork for some of your tracks. If you have carefully added album artwork to music in your iTunes library, you may find that when you look, for example, on your iPhone, some of the artwork is different. There is nothing you can do about this; the artwork comes from the Apple Music catalog, and, as in the first point above, often results from incorrect matches.


This live Grateful Dead album has artwork for a "Complete Studio Rarities Collection."

Missing Duplicates

This, to me, is one of the biggest annoyances I see in iCloud Music Library. As with iTunes Match, Apple Music won't let users upload tracks that it considers to be duplicates. So if you have a song on one album, and it appears again on a greatest hits or soundtrack album, one of these songs will not be matched. But you cannot tell iTunes which one you want to keep. So when you play that studio album, you may find that one of its tracks is missing, even though it is in a different album in your iTunes library, such as a greatest hits album.


Duplicate tracks.

Files with DRM

If you have an iTunes Match subscription, iTunes either matches your files with the files in Apple's cloud library, or, if no match can be found, uploads them. When you re-download these files later, you can play them on any device. If, however, you do not have an iTunes Match subscription, and Apple Music matches your files, when you re-download them, or download them on other devices, they have DRM. You can only play these files as long as your Apple Music subscription is active.


Files with DRM show as Apple Music AAC audio files, and have a FairPlay version (FairPlay is Apple's DRM scheme).

The Patience Test

A number of people have reported seeing tracks in their iTunes library that are dimmed — grayed out — and that show the iCloud Status as Waiting. It's not clear why this happens, and, in many cases, patience is a virtue. This usually clears up, though it may take several hours, or more. If this happens, try updating your iCloud Music Library. To do this, choose File > Library > Update iCloud Music Library. This does not always resolve the problem, unfortunately.

You may be using Apple Music and iCloud Music Library with no problems. If so, just keep on enjoying your music. However, if you do have issues, particularly with matching, you may want to use Apple Music without iCloud Music Library. You only need to turn on iCloud Music Library if you wish to save music or playlists from Apple Music to your music library, or if you wish to use Apple Music's matching feature. You can listen to music on Apple Music just fine without turning this feature on.

What other annoyances or problems have you encountered in iCloud Music Library? Have something to else to gripe about? Leave a comment below and have your say. 

About Kirk McElhearn

Kirk McElhearn writes about Macs, iPods, iTunes, books, music and more on his blog Kirkville. He is co-host of the Intego Mac Podcast and PhotoActive, and a regular contributor to The Mac Security Blog, TidBITS, and several other websites and publications. Kirk has written more than twenty books, including Take Control books about iTunes, LaunchBar, and Scrivener. Follow him on Twitter at @mcelhearn. View all posts by Kirk McElhearn →
  • DoctorDee

    The 25,000 track limit. This is the biggest problem.

  • David Jones

    My biggest issue is that after turning on the Cloud years ago, it seems the music on my iPhone had to be retrieved from the Cloud. So when I found myself in a poor reception area (or a foreign country), no music. GRR. I also have had continuous difficulties using this with the Zombie Run app.

  • beamerman

    1. Metadata like play counts and last played date doesn’t sync correctly between devices.
    2. Metadata gets corrupted with many ratings removed and play counts reset to zero.
    3. Very slow downloading into iOS devices
    4. Download to iOS device via cloud much slower than connection to computer via USB
    5. Playback stops intermittently on iOS devices (I think when loses data connection) even with music that has been downloaded
    6. Lack of clarity over what has been downloaded and what hasn’t to iOS device
    7. Unclear how to remove music from iOS device
    8. Very difficult (or impossible in my case) to clear the iCloud music library and start again.
    9. There should be a way to store all your purchases in the cloud (rather than Apple noting you own a copy). This applies to TV shows and Movies as well to protect people from losing stuff if it is removed from the iTunes store.

    I think the whole implementation of iCloud music library is botched and the underlying architecture is just flawed. It should be much simpler than it appears to be to sync metadata across devices.

    It is so sad it doesn’t work effectively as what it is trying to achieve is awesome.

    • gab

      Very sad it doesn’t work. I tried enabling iML for the 3rd time last week and while it was better it still changed the metadata (primarily art) on about 5% of my local files. The real maddening part is I couldn’t change it back… it just kept reverting. I understand how the matched version in the cloud might not be perfect but I can not tolerate the local files being changed. They really need to hire a senior cloud architect from Google!

  • natatattat

    I just upgraded to iphone 6. My concern was that my mac is so old(but working fine) rhat i cannot upgrade os or itunes so i cannot plug in an iphone with ios9. I can no longer back up to itunes or sync my music or videos. Much of my music is old from cds, or music i downloaded for free off the internet from a myriad of my dj friends making their own music. I got more space on this phone so that i could have more music on it. I had to backup to icloud so that my new phone would restore from that backup since i could not use itunes. I asked about all of this wirh apple icloud help BEFORE i got a new phone. I also asked why i had like 28 gigs of stuff on my old phone but iCloud only used like 5 gigs to back “everything” up. I was not told that icloud wont back uo ANY of your personal music and therefore i have NONE of my music on my new phone. Its freaking 320 am now and ive been scouring the internet for why this is or how to fix it and ill be damned if im going to sign up for match just to get the music i already own on my phone. I want to reactivate my old phone til i get this figured out but verizon wont let me do that right now for some reason. And i cant call anyone. I am f@#king livid. Apple is going in the shitter there are roo many services (icloud, match, apple music, and whatever else) to figure out and sync and its bullshit that i cannot use my working mac to do anything with itunes anymore. What happened to the simplicity of apple?! How do i fix this without spending hours picking and downloading music to a flash and transferring it to someone elses itunes and then to my phone. Also how do i get any new music on my phone from my dj friends that have downloads?? Previous option was to download to computer and add to itunes. Thats out of the question. I want to send this phone right back to verizon. The only reason i got it was for the better camera and the nightshift. And some extra space. Otherwise it was doing fine on ios 8.1…

  • Andrian Gonzalez

    I found icloud quite hard to use. I switch to Sunshine and the file sharing and connecting my devices is much easier. It also allows me to connect and stream files on smart tv

  • İpek Kalkan

    I think biggest problem is that you can’t choose the albums you want i mean when iCloud music library is on it automatically syncs all the songs that I have in my laptop. well, i dont want that i only want to sync the songs that i want to but that doesnt seem possible so far. Gimme a hand?

  • Gustavo Domínguez

    I’m about to drop Apple Music for the second time; two months ago I decided to complete forgo Spotify (unlike when Apple Music launch where I kept it) so I’ve been cautious but I’m sure I added plenty of tracks from Apple Music–I wanted to replicate my most played stuff on Spotify.

    I don’t think iTunes, its counting track skips so I’ve been for two months actively telling it what I like and what I don’t, and even with 20K track on my Match sitting there and Genius turned on since it came out it *still* has no clue what I like, it give me California every time, all misclassified genres are California-incluenced. It seems to have more an agenda than smarts.

    Apple Music still sucks, no surprise there; I’m going back and I have left around twenty days to sort out my iTunes Match tracks, I haven’t had a full local copy of it for a long time because I use iTunes Match for backup but now I’m sort of starting to panic.

  • greg totman

    i purchased apple match and then uploaded my music collection to icloud . The most annoying thing when i go to play a song after disconnecting the external hard drive where my music is stored. I get the original file cant be found message , How do i get rid of that !