I finally broke down and signed up for Apple Music today. I’ve been waffling back and forth as to whether or not to sign up for a streaming music service, and if so, which one, for some time now. The straw that broke the camel’s back was, I guess, a combination of a six month free deal that I got by signing up via Shazam, along with a desire to listen to the new Tom Petty Wildflowers reissue that came out today, plus a dash of good old boredom and restlessness.
The six month free deal is something that they did last year, around the holidays, and I guess they’re doing it again. I happened to be using Shazam recently and noticed it. The Tom Petty Wildflowers & All The Rest release is available as a 2 CD set for $20, a 4 CD set for $50, or a 5 CD “super deluxe” set for $150, if you buy it through the Tom Petty web site. Apple Music has the whole Super Deluxe version (though obviously just the music and not the extra stuff). And, yeah, I guess just general boredom and restlessness occasionally causes me to decide to sign up for something new that I probably don’t need.
I’m looking back through my blog, and I see that I bought my first song from iTunes in 2003. (I just checked, and that song is still in my library.) Apple Music has been around since 2015, and I blogged about it when it was first announced. At that time, I didn’t think I’d ever sign up for it. And I’ve been thinking about (and blogging about) streaming music a lot over the last year or two. (Here are three posts from 2019, from March, June, and November.)
I’ve been buying a fair amount of my music from Bandcamp this year, and I feel pretty good about that. I know that a reasonable amount of the money that I spend there makes its way back to the artists. But, for stuff like Tom Petty, or Bruce Springsteen, or for albums that I’m just curious about and want to listen to once or twice, I think Apple Music is a perfectly reasonable solution.
So, now, I might as well write up some notes on the process of pulling my giant music collection into Apple Music and letting it match stuff. I did that on the PC first, and it took about two hours to crunch through everything. (Though I think it’s still not actually completely done.) When Apple Music first came out, there was a lot of talk about it screwing up people’s local music libraries. I don’t think it does that anymore (if it ever really did), but it does definitely confuse things a bit, in some cases. (To be fair, my library might have already been a little messed up, and turning on the Apple Music sync may have just made existing issues more obvious.)
I have about 14,000 songs in my library, on my PC, taking up about 87 GB of space. When you first go into iTunes, after signing up for Apple Music, you get a prompt asking if you want to enable iCloud Music library. If you say yes, then it starts analyzing your library, matching songs with their cloud library, and uploading stuff they can’t find. You can get an idea of what’s going on there by adding the “iCloud Status” column to your “Songs” view. The values for that are (mostly) explained in this support document. I had a bunch of songs showing “Error”, which I managed to mostly clean up. Most songs were “Matched” or “Uploaded”. A bunch still say “Waiting” on them, which I guess means that they didn’t finish matching. I think I may have start another update (via File > Library > Update Cloud Music Library) to fix that. (I did that just now, and it’s crunching through about 3500 songs.)
I keep about half of my music library (about 44 GB) on my MacBook also, and I turned on the sync there too. That went faster and had fewer errors. I may at some point delete a lot of my music files from my Mac, and just stream them from the cloud. That would help clear some space on my hard drive, which is always a little cramped.
And I’m thinking about turning off music sync between my Mac and my iPhone. Right now, I selectively sync stuff to the phone that I want to be able to listen to offline. Of course, right now, I barely leave my apartment, so I don’t really need to listen to stuff offline that often. When I do, I can just download it from the cloud right from the phone. So I think I may just start managing things that way.
Another nice side-effect of having Apple Music is that I’ve connected my account to my Sonos, so I can now easily listen to anything in my library without jumping through some of the hoops that I have to jump through now.
My previous workflow for getting music into my “system” if, for instance, I bought a new CD, was generally: (1) rip the CD on my PC, (2) copy the MP3s to my Mac, (3) also copy them to my Volumio box, and (4) sync them down to my phone. Now I can just skip most of that and just add albums in Apple Music and listen to them wherever I want. I guess it takes some of the fun out of it, but it’ll be a little easier to manage.
So, yeah, I guess I’ve finally given in. I’m going to try to get comfortable with this whole “not owning my music” thing. I’m still not ready to give up my physical CD collection yet though. I probably should give it up, but… I guess that’s a step too far. (Old dogs, new tricks, and all that.)