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How does iCloud Music Library *actually* work?


macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 15, 2019
Hey all! I am an avid music collector and have used Google Play Music for almost a decade now because of it's cloud-based music locker service that it offers alongside streaming. Since it's shutting down in October, I have my eyes on Apple Music as the closest replacement. I am trying to clarify how Apple Music's "iCloud Music Library" works. I switch phones and computers often, and the language on Apple's website leads me to believe that doing so would be problematic to my cloud library.

"If you sign out of your Apple ID or cancel your Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription, you won’t be able to access and sync your music library on all of your devices. The original song files will remain on the device that they were uploaded from."

I use an iPhone and a PC currently but occasionally switch to and from Macs depending on what's best for my money whenever I switch computers. This language leads me to believe that if I have a local copy of my library on my PC synched to Apple Music via iTunes, and then sign out of iTunes on the PC to change to a new computer, all of that "cloud saved" music will vanish. That's not an issue, per se, because I'll have the local copy of the library and can re-upload from a new machine. I have over 30,000 songs, though, so the upload time would be considerable if this is, in fact, the case.

The wording makes it sound like "yeah, it's technically stored in the cloud, but we must have local access to the files at all times to verify that you actually own them." Am I missing something here? Apple themselves doesn't seem to provide a clear breakdown of the relationship between my local music files, iCloud Music Library, and the Apple Music experience on iOS and Mac/PC.


macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2008
San Jose, CA
Uploaded or matched songs in the cloud do not disappear when you log out of the machine they were uploaded/matched from. They remain available as long as your Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription is active.

Also, unless you really have a lot of devices, you don't need to log out from iTunes on one computer to be able to log in on another. You can have up to 5 computers and up to 10 devices in total associated with a subscription.
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