There's been a lot written about Apple Music on just about every blog covering Apple in the last few days. Not here. We didn't post about how much day one was great, or not great. We didn't cover the launch of Beats 1, or that the new service has bugs, or any of that stuff.
Because I wanted to wait. I wanted to be a user of the service, run it through its paces, see what worked and what didn't, and take my time forming my opinions.
That said, 4 days isn't enough time to fully understand Apple Music, or any service for that matter. It certainly isn't enough time to find all the bugs either. However, I am ready to say something...and here it is.
I love Apple Music.
I love it. I have been waiting for a service like this one for a while. I've tried Spotify, Rdio, Amazon, Google, Pandora, Rhapsody, and others. Each had too many bad points to win me over, and I stuck with iTunes. Finally, Apple Music has fulfilled all my hopes in a single service. That said, there are issues at launch. Particularly with iTunes and matching tracks.
I'm not going to get into how Apple Music works. There are plenty of writings on that.
The Apple Music "service" has been solid so far. I search, find, play, listen. It's pretty easy. My issues have stemmed from iTunes.
Everyone knows iTunes is a bloated piece of software at this point. There is no reason it hasn't been broken apart for separate Music, Videos, Podcasts, and Store apps on the Mac, just like on iOS. Add this to the issues iTunes Match has had over the years and well, I knew I was taking a chance when I turned on Apple Music and iCloud Music Library on my Mac. Within minutes, I regretted not listening to my gut.
A little background first...
I have a large collection. Most of my music has been repurchased on iTunes over the years. I could have simply ripped it, but instead, I supported the artists and bought it again. I'm okay with that. Those things not available in iTunes, like live bootlegs, some rare b-sides, and bands like Tool....well, I did rip those and add them to iTunes.
I'd say overall, I have maybe 10 albums of stuff that isn't iTunes purchased in my library that I care about having access to. I have way more that I simply don't need on demand, any time, anywhere. So, when I turned on Apple Music and enabled iCloud Music Library, I knew it would attempt to "match" these 10 albums. I knew there might be errors. But, fixing 10 albums of potentially wrong matches isn't too bad if needed.
What I didn't think, or would have ever imagined, was that iTunes would not only try to match these 10 albums, but it would also attempt to match ALL my music in my library...even if it was purchased in iTunes. To me, this is just dumb. The file has data that says iTunes Purchased in it, Match should read that, and just skip the thing. Alas, it doesn't.
Here is where the problems started.
Once it went through my library, it obviously tried to match those 10 other albums (which it messed up some of, understandably), but it also tried to match any locally stored music as well. I didn't store all my iTunes purchased songs on my Mac. I didn't need to. I could stream them as needed. So what matching did was it went through and tried to match any song that was stored on my Mac. Those I never downloaded but were just shown "in the cloud" were left alone.
What happened? It messed this all up. The songs I stored locally. That were purchased on iTunes. Could not be matched to iTunes. Let that sink in for a second.
I'm a huge Apple fan. Supporter. I champion for them constantly. But this is unacceptable.
Match mangled my library. I had songs with album art for album A, album title for B, artist for C, and song title for D...and none of those were the song that played when clicked. You can't get any worse of a match than that. And again, this is for a song that I bought in iTunes.
Needless to say I attempted to go through and fix all these issues. There were simply too many.
So I did fix it. Here's how...
Let me first say, that this only worked for me because I bought all this music in iTunes. Otherwise, I am not sure how it would have turned out.
I made a folder and stuck all my ripped albums in it. I will get these into iTunes at a later date. That's not the majority of what I listen to, and there is no sense in pressing my luck on a brand new service...again.
After I did this, I selected ALL my iTunes music, which again, was ALL purchased through iTunes. I pressed delete, and it asked me if I wanted to remove the items. Yes. I do. It also asks if I want to leave the file or move to the trash. To the trash with you! It also has a checkbox to "hide" the items. This is a big fat no.
What did this do?
It removed all those messed up local files, and left all my iTunes purchased content available to stream from the cloud, as it was before, correctly, on my Mac.
The kicker is this change doesn't sync to the iCloud Music Library. Maybe I didn't do something that would have, but it didn't. Either way, on my iPhone all this messed up matching was still there. So I went through and deleted it all. Removing it from iCloud Music Library.
So now I have nothing in my iCloud Music Library.
These two steps deleted all my ripped uploads, all my purchased music, and all my mangled songs from iCloud Music Library.
It didn't however remove them from my purchase list in iTunes. So I went to the iOS iTunes app, and went to purchases, and tapped "download" next to anything I wanted to add back to my iCloud Music Library.
This added the correct information BACK into my iCloud Music Library, pushed all those changes back to my devices, and shows correctly on them. Now, the nice part of this (if there is one) is that because I didn't download these on the Mac, iTunes isn't looking at these local files again and trying to match them. They just show up as in my library to stream. So no more destruction.
Now, I know what your thinking (besides "this guy is freaking nuts")... my device has all these songs on it now taking up space. Yea, it did. Simple enough, I just deleted the entire lot in:
So after that amazingly painstaking process, I have a fully functioning iCloud Music Library. With my purchases and Apple Music items living side by side. As intended.
After all that, I still love this service. I will continue to use it. That said, I should have trusted my gut, and left "matching" alone. I thought about removing all my songs so it didn't try to match anything, but was a bit too ready to rush in and didn't. That's my bad. The fact that iTunes can't match iTunes purchased content (or at least some of it) is Apple's fault. That's their bad.
Your milage may vary if you go this route. I got to my destination. I just took a long, winding, back dirt road to get there.