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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

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.

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.

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.

Article Link: Debate Rages Over Whether Apple Music Automatically Deletes Users' Owned Music Collections
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macrumors 68040
May 28, 2015
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Original files are never altered and remain available and deleting personal content is not the intended behavior of the service
Haha. People who had their artwork scrambled probably did it all manually then forgot about it.

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.
Well this makes me feel safe while in loving embrace of Apple. "Create a backup in case we accidentally ruin your library which by the way is never altered".


macrumors 68030
Jan 15, 2016
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.
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macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2009
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.


Mar 26, 2008
it replaced most of "my" music with AM files. i only noticed after i unsubscribed to AM and all my music was greyed out and not playable. thankfully i had it all stored in Google Music as well
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macrumors 68000
Nov 19, 2005
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.

I disabled AM altogether... I would discover new music by other means, and wouldn't wanna have online services to interfere with my personal music library.


macrumors 68000
Jan 19, 2008
I suffered from this bug. I had iTunes Match when I enabled Apple Music. A lot of my own music got incorrecty labeled as Apple Music in iCloud.

If you have iTunes Match you can delete your own local music files and later get your own DRM-free files back from the cloud.

But that failed for those files that was incorrectly labeled as Apple Music. I did lose those files (after I deleted them). Apple Support could not help me.

Now, this was a known bug when Apple Music was just released, but my mislabeled songs still have the wrong label to this day. When I download them, I get a DRM version.

So yes, you can loose your music files. Even with iTunes Match.

(And there are plenty more serious bugs in iTunes and iCloud library. I have 6 open bug reports with Apple.)


macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
iCloud Music Library, iTunes Match etc. are just a mess. I ripped a song off Soundcloud, added it to iTunes and a week later I still can't play it on my iPhone. The song is there but it's grayed out and I get an error message when I try to play it. Also I used the app SongShift to import Spotify playlists but many of the songs aren't matching the correct album. A lot of tracks matched to greatest hits albums not the original album the song came from. So annoying.


macrumors 68040
Apr 2, 2007
When I used the service it didn't delete my songs but it did change all my music ratings which really pissed me off. It just started randomly 5 staring albums and single songs with no rhyme or reason.

It's very buggy in my opinion at-least in iTunes.


macrumors 68000
Jan 1, 2008
It's funny of all the things Apple gets picked on and I'm pretty critical of a lot of things Apple at the moment My transition to apple music has been fairly smooth. Are there two many things going on in it like connect etc yes. It needs a clean up but functionally coming from using google music and testing spotify for 30 days Apple music has smart lists and no playlist size limits which makes me very happy. Clean the app up and it will be an excellent subscription service.
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macrumors 68000
Apr 4, 2003
Apple Music and iTunes needs a complete overhaul, including making it much more user-friendly. Some of the prompts are downright scary. Just hit the wrong thing and there's a good chance you're going to erase something you didn't intend to. That being said, anyone with values their data should have a local hardcopy back up. Never, never, never rely on the cloud for important information.


Feb 17, 2009
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)
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