Debate Rages Over Whether Apple Music Automatically Deletes Users' Owned Music Collections

Apple Music is the center of a heated debate this week, with involved parties arguing over whether or not the service is deleting Apple Music users' song collections from hard drives after uploading them to iCloud Music Library.

Vellum's James Pinkstone wrote a long complaint on May 4 accusing Apple Music of doing just that. According to Pinkstone, Apple Music deleted 122GB of his original music files after he joined Apple Music and had his music library scanned by Apple to make his personal content available across multiple devices.

applemusic

When I 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. 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.

The process Pinkstone describes above is not how Apple Music's matching feature works, according to an in-depth explanation shared by iMore. Apple will match songs and upload original songs by converting them into an appropriate format, but it does not delete without user intervention. iMore theorizes that Pinkstone accidentally wiped his own library by misunderstanding confusing dialog options.

applemusicdelete

Whatever the case, Apple Music was never designed to delete Pinkstone's source library, and it won't delete yours. That's simply not how the service works on your primary Mac. But if you're not aware of how iCloud Music Library stores copies of tracks, you may delete your local copies to save space, thinking you can get them back -- and get screwed as a result.

Confusing the issue further is Pinkstone's conversation with an Apple Support Representative named Amber, who seems to be just as perplexed about how Apple Music functions when merging an existing music library with the Apple Music service.

"The software is functioning as intended," said Amber.
"Wait," I asked, "so it's supposed to delete my personal files from my internal hard drive without asking my permission?"
"Yes," she replied.

Amber's statement is inaccurate according to an Apple Music support document. Original files are never altered and remain available and deleting personal content is not the intended behavior of the service, but it continues to be unclear if Pinkstone and other Apple Music customers who have had content deleted have experienced a bug or mistakenly deleted their content themselves because of a confusing user interface. Multiple Apple Music listeners have disagreed with iMore's point of view and have said they too have experienced music deletions that weren't self-initiated.

Regardless of what actually happened, it's clear that Apple Music is in need of a serious overhaul. Rumors suggest Apple is working on revamping Apple Music and will unveil changes at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Hopefully that revamp will extend beyond cosmetic changes to clear up many of the confusing aspects of how music libraries are handled.

Apple Music users with personal music collections should create a backup on an external hard drive, which will ensure no music ever goes missing through user error or an Apple Music bug.

Top Rated Comments

smacrumon Avatar
63 months ago
[SIZE=4]This is far from "it just works". Apple is paid handsomely to make the right design decisions. Unintended consequences should be captured by the design with a logical and thoughtful response provided by the software. The user need not make decisions like this, nor should the consequences be so dire. The user can be confused at each and every step, but it's the design of the software that gets the user from A to B safely. If the software can't do this, the software shouldn't be made available to be used.[/SIZE]
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
saintforlife Avatar
63 months ago
Here's a thought: Just don't use Apple Music. Stick to Spotify or some other streaming service of your choice. For the music that you already own, just use iTunes to sync whatever you want to listen to to your device as needed.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DudeDad Avatar
63 months ago
I have a 600GB music library on my Mac (external drive). I joined iTunes Match, and it took 3 days with a fast connection for Apple to upload and convert my library (the songs that it does not have in the iTunes library). All my apple lossless files I ripped myself are still on my external drive, and my onsite and offsite backups. I now use Apple Music and have no issues with losing music.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Junipr Avatar
63 months ago
If they can automatically install music (U2 album), they can automatically delete music too
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
8281 Avatar
63 months ago
Here's a thought: Just don't use Apple Music. Stick to Spotify or some other streaming service of your choice. For the music that you already own, just use iTunes to sync whatever you want to listen to to your device as needed.
Not paying for either steaming service. Didn't like the idea of leasing music indefinitely.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Thunderhawks Avatar
63 months ago
Anybody who spent thousands of dollars and umpteen hours to create a music collection,
should spend a few more hours and $ more for a decent back up (better, even 2)

It has never been an issue of how and why storage media fails,
it has only been a question of WHEN!

As for iTunes, I stopped synching libraries long time ago when the messages of what would happen were not clear. Hasn't changed and I only use iTunes now to home share movies through Apple TV.

iTunes is a big bag of hurt (And Apple has many these days)
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

imac pro featured black

Apple Confirms iMac Pro Will Be Discontinued When Supplies Run Out, Recommends 27-Inch iMac

Saturday March 6, 2021 7:33 am PST by
Apple on late Friday evening added a "while supplies last" notice to its iMac Pro product page worldwide, and removed all upgrade options for the computer, leaving only the standard configuration available to order for now. We've since confirmed with Apple that when supplies run out, the iMac Pro will no longer be available whatsoever. Apple says the latest 27-inch iMac introduced in August...
bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 to Gain Breakthrough New Health Feature

Friday March 5, 2021 5:34 am PST by
Apple is reportedly planning to bring a new, first-of-its-kind health technology to the Apple Watch Series 7, in what could be a breakthrough for managing conditions such as diabetes more easily. According to a recent report from ETNews, the Apple Watch Series 7 will feature blood glucose monitoring via a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood...
Top Stories 48

Top Stories: iPhone 13 Leaks, OLED iPads and Macs, New AirTags Evidence

Saturday March 6, 2021 6:00 am PST by
iPhone rumors are heating up, with noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this week releasing a wide-ranging report outlining his expectations for the iPhone lineup over the next three years. This week also saw rumors about OLED displays potentially coming to iPad and Mac starting next year, increasing signs of AirTags functionality in iOS 14.5 betas, and more, so check out all of the details below! i...
apple products refurbished store banner

Class Action Lawsuit Over Apple Providing Refurbished Replacement Devices Proceeding to Trial in August

Friday March 5, 2021 9:53 am PST by
Initially filed in 2016, a class action lawsuit that accuses Apple of violating the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and other U.S. laws by providing customers with refurbished replacement devices is set to proceed to trial August 16, according to a notice this week from law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. Apple's repair terms and conditions state that,...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro

OLED 10.9-Inch iPad Rumored for Early 2022, 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and 16-Inch MacBook Pro Could Follow

Thursday March 4, 2021 8:37 pm PST by
Earlier today, DigiTimes shared a preview of an upcoming report claiming that Apple is working on both iPad and Mac notebook models with OLED displays that could launch starting in 2022. The full report from DigiTimes is now available, and it includes several new alleged details about Apple's plans. According to the report, the first of these devices to adopt an OLED display is likely to be...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature2

iPhone 13 Rumor Recap: Smaller Notch, Larger Batteries, 120Hz for Pro Models, Improved 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and More

Friday March 5, 2021 8:20 am PST by
While we are likely at least six months away from Apple unveiling the so-called iPhone 13 lineup, rumors about the devices are starting to accumulate, so we've put together this recap of everything that is expected so far. The upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will consist of the same four models and the same screen sizes as the iPhone 12 lineup, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo,...
imac pro while supplies last

iMac Pro No Longer Custom Configurable, Available 'While Supplies Last'

Friday March 5, 2021 10:14 pm PST by
Apple appears to be on the verge of discontinuing the iMac Pro, with the store page for the high-end all-in-one Mac including a "While supplies last" tagline and only the base model with no custom configurations available for purchase. The iMac Pro launched in December 2017, and while there have been a few tweaks to the available configurations over the years, it has received no substantial...
hlh030121feafutureoffitness012 1614286673

A Look Inside Apple's 23,000 Square-Foot Fitness+ Studio

Friday March 5, 2021 10:59 am PST by
Apple Fitness+, the latest service to join the Apple family, integrates tightly with the Apple Watch to offer a comprehensive and growing selection of workout and exercise videos made by a team of professional trainers. Apple Fitness+ Studio (via Men's Health) Apple curates and records all of the videos at a location in Santa Monica, California, and each video features a similar background...
maxresdefault

What's on Your iPhone Home Screen?

Thursday March 4, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Over on our YouTube channel, MacRumors videographer Dan has a new video up where he shares his Home Screen, wallpaper, and all of his current favorite widgets. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Check out Dan's video to see his setup, and then comment below and show us your own Home Screens. It's always fun to see other peoples' Home Screens, and with widgets and...
microsoft edge vertical tabs

Microsoft Edge 89 Brings Vertical Tabs and New History View

Friday March 5, 2021 4:06 am PST by
Microsoft has officially released version 89 of its popular Chromium-based Edge browser, bringing its long-trialed vertical tabs feature to Mac for the first time. Vertical tabs are intended to make more efficient use of screen space, and should prove a welcome addition for users browsing on 16:9 ratio displays in particular. Users can click vertical tabs to switch between them and...