Will quitting Apple Music destroy your music library?

A month ago my wife accidentally subscribed to Apple Music, even though she didn’t need it or use it. About 90% of her library is from an old CD collection that she uploaded. And 10% from iTunes purchases over the years.

With the subscription about to expire Apple sends this very scary message: "Stay with us to avoid losing all your playlists, settings, and the music you’ve added to your library."

Can any one who has gone through unsubscribing to Apple Music report on what happens to your library exactly?

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If you unsubscribe from Apple Music, you are no longer able to play any streaming music you’ve added or downloaded to your library from the Apple Music catalog.

Songs which you have actually purchased from the iTunes Store will not be affected, plus songs purchased through iTunes can be re-downloaded for free at any time.

Songs you have for example ripped from CDs, and which are not in the Store, and which you have uploaded, will be unaffected by your subscription lapsing.

Any pre-owned songs you have ‘matched’ to the cloud (a setting in the Music/iTunes app - your owned songs will have little clouds next to them if they were uploaded [then deleted locally] for matching) will continue to play if you are paying for ‘iTunes Match’ (which is included in Apple Music) as opposed to ‘Apple Music’. (iTunes Match costs $25/yr and is included with Apple Music.)

So, if you let the Music app upload your personal music so songs can be ‘matched’ and played anywhere (iOS, Macs, Windows, web browsers) and you aren’t intending to pay for the Match service you’ll need to click on the cloud-icon songs to download them back to your computer.

After you’ve downloaded your music you can safely cancel your subscription.

(I have Apple Music but I never utilized music matching because Apple Music changes the metadata for songs if you’d customized them.)

The matching is the only thing you need to worry about - but if you didn’t match your personal library then have no concerns about canceling your subscription.

FYI here’s some info about iTunes Match vs Apple Music:

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The downside to this is that the items that were matched will now only be a compressed 256kbps. I don’t believe there is a way to retrieve your original files once apple has matched it. If it was not matched, then you should be fine. If your wife has not added a lot of Apple Music songs to her app, maybe delete the ones she has added manually and see where that leaves you. Lastly, most people (not all) are using iTunes to transfer their original content through to their device. Does she still have the originally ripped files on a computer ?, if so, your worst case scenario is having to transfer them again after you cancel Apple Music.

Compressed compared to what? 256kbps AAC is superior to 320kbps MP3 and if you uploaded music in WAV, ALAC, or AIFF formats, then they will remain in those formats on the Mac or PC from which they were uploaded.

Most people’s old historic rips (or illegal pulls from places like Napster) are much worse than 256kbps AAC, so one major advantage of matching via IM/AM is a free upgrade to a much better quality downloadable audio file.

Is it just me or is this all as complicated as it sounds? I have a few ripped lectures from CDs I own on Apple Music on my Mac as far as I understand it. I bear in mind that much stuff that is ‘ripped’ is not really legal and it seems to be that the user can’t complain when it gets lost. I don’t understand this very well at all.


I find the services confusing as well. I paid for Match for a while, then Music as well, then cancelled Match. I kinda expected a bunch of old albums I’ve uploaded (music that doesn’t seem to exist on Apple Music) to fail on me, but they still work on all devices.

It seems fragile, or magical, or both—but for now I’m practicing a “not broken, don’t fix it” mentality.

It’s a little confusing.

Let’s say those CDs you own are Taylor Swift (to make things simple). You rip your Taylor Swift CDs into your Mac, and you have your tracks on your Mac. You turn on Apple’s matching service, and presto - you have copies of those Taylor Swift songs from Apple in your music library.

All fine and good.

But when you cancel Apple Music, the cloud copies vanish.

So if, knowing that you have your music safely tucked away in Apple’s cloud, you delete your local ripped copies in preference to the ones from Apple Music, Apple is saying that their data that they’re letting you use as part of the matching service will go away.

Which is either just fine (if you don’t care) or potentially catastrophic (if you don’t have your original ripped files).

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Depends, doesn’t it. I’m reminded of Homer Simpson’s, “Is the poop deck what I think it is?” Depends what you think is complicated. This has been the way Match has worked since June 2011, and the details are online.

If you have Apple Music and don’t have match enabled everything you own is on you computer, untouched. If you have Match enabled look at the file - if it’s got a cloud attached to it it’s been uploaded, and click to download/listen. If no cloud it’s on your computer.

The OP wanted to know if his library will be destroyed. It won’t. If Match isn’t enabled he can cancel without worry, immediately. If it is he just needs to download any songs Apple has stored, and gets them all in unprotected 320kbps AAC format - an upgrade for many people, especially those who’d bought protected iTunes tracks in the old days, or people with garbage rips.

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If the Apple music is on an iOS device, then no matter what format you had your files in, iTunes Match will downgrade it to 256kbps. If we are talking about Apple Music on a Mac, then it doesn’t matter as ITunes Match will not “usually” perform that conversion

You keep saying “downgrade” - so I’ll ask again: compared to what precisely? I’ll repeat: 256AAC is better quality than even 320MP3, and if you have files in WAV, ALAC or FLAC they don’t get changed.

And for most people 320AAC is an upgrade: an upgrade from iTunes protected files (which started out at 192kbps then the iTunes Store opened), and definitely an upgrade from the typical MP3 rips people have done (or downloaded over the years).

So, for me personally, I only listen to uncompressed or 24bit music. I was thinking from that perspective. Any CD’s that I had previously ripped into my library were downgraded from uncompressed wav files into 256kbps aac files by iTunes Match. While the WAV, ALAC, FLAC do not get downgraded on your Mac, they do get downgraded via the iTunes Match process for iOS … Or at least they used to as it happened to me and many others. The forums were full of complaints about it. I no longer use Apple Music for streaming anything other than what I put in there manually with WLTR2

The OP’s question was about the music files in his Mac library. Your note about listening on the iPhone really is an edge-case complaint that Apple Music has never streamed or played lossless music. That is tangential to the OP’s question, I think.

If you care about lossless music and you part of the 1% of people who listen and discern music differences on mobile - with expensive over-the-ear headphones in quiet situations, perhaps an external DAC between the phone and headphones too - then spend $13-$20/month for Tidal HiFi or Amazon HD music.

Or transfer your music to your phone and use a 3rd-party player. Apple has never shown any interest in streaming lossless music. As far as your library goes your lossless music on your Mac remains untouched and undegraded, and Apple never ‘downgrades’ it. iTunes on your Mac plays lossless FLAC and ALAC, and lossless files will never be in the cloud.

I had not noticed their original comment being specific to the Mac. I personally use Qobuz, worked out to be about $12 per month for hi-res music.

If the library derives from an old CD collection I assumed it resides on a Mac. But since iTunes/Music on iOS won’t play lossless music the edge-case of being iOS-only makes moot the issue of downloading AAC since the OP wouldn’t have been able to upload lossless from iOS to being with.

Since this happened over one month the only possible issue would exist if within 30 days the OP originally owned lossless files on Mac, uploaded them to Apple Music, trashed his Mac and didn’t retain a file backup, went iOS only, and wanted to retain lossless files on iOS. :upside_down_face:

Thank You bowline for a succinct explanation. The subscription was for Music only and not Match (as far as I can tell) and the library was never shared on an iOS device only a desktop and laptop. So I think we are on the safe side.

I only wish that Apple would phrase their subscription cancellation message a bit better and not sound so threatening.

You can actually put lossless music right into Apple Music on iOS. That’s what I was referring to above with WLTR 2. It’s a utility that puts music right into the Apple Music or movies right into the tv app.

There are a million 3rd party music players. Not what we’re talking about.

Apple Music includes Match. So the cancellation error message may be written with the assumption that you took advantage of it. :slight_smile:

Yes, I realize now that even though the OP didn’t mention Mac in their post, it was listed in the tags. WALTR 2 is not a third party player. I realize you seem to be feeling combative, but I am just sharing information. WALTR2 is merely a utility to transfer lossless (or otherwise) music directly into Apple’s stock Apple Music App on iOS, and will also transfer more or less any movie type right into the Stock Apple TV app on iOS. Thus reducing the need to have multiple apps for music and multiple apps for movies. .

I own Waltr but never used its music transfer capabilities. Interesting info, thanks!

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