While convenient, the iCloud Music Library also has its quirks. That’s because it matches and replaces songs or albums you already have on your device with a high-quality version from the Apple Music streaming library (if available). That process can lead to messed-up metadata, missing album art, and matching to the wrong song. Users have also complained in forums about the feature being confusing and accidentally wiping files off their devices. And it also means you’re locked into listening to your music on Apple devices.
Another thing to keep in mind: iCloud Music Library isn’t the same as having a backup of your offline files. That’s because, like most streaming services, Apple Music files are DRM encrypted, meaning it’s tied to your Apple ID. So, even though you can build up quite a library, you don’t actually own any of the tracks — and it will become inaccessible should you ever choose to cancel your subscription.
If you’ve bought a new iPhone, iPad, or Mac, iCloud Music Library syncing is enabled by default. For tons of folks, this isn’t really a major issue, and the convenience can outweigh the cons. But if you’ve spent years cultivating your own music library or aren’t committed to sticking with Apple Music in the long term, you may want to disable this feature from the get-go.
So, without further ado, here’s how to stop the iCloud Music Library from syncing to your devices.
Photography by Victoria Song / The Verge