New iPhone 4S only plays half my music.
November 16, 2011 7:46 AM   Subscribe

I just got an iPhone 4S. I "restored" the new iPhone from an iCloud backup of my previous iPhone 3GS. It worked almost perfectly, but roughly half my music won't play!

Here are the details.

1. I had an iPhone 3GS with AT&T service.
2. A few weeks ago, I enabled iCloud on my 3GS and on iTunes, which is running on my Windows 7 computer. I set my iPhone to back up to iCloud.
3. I ordered an iPhone 4S from Verizon, and asked to port my AT&T number.
4. The new phone arrived, I activated it, the number was successfully ported and my Verizon service successfully activated and the AT&T account was closed.
5. The new phone gave me the option to "restore" from the iCloud backup of my previous phone. I chose that option.
6. The new phone started to wirelessly download all my apps, settings, photos, notes, and even the web pages I had open in Safari - impressive! All my music seemed to appear in the "Music" app, but I didn't try to play any of it.
7. Then, because of an event I was attending, I had to turn my phone COMPLETELY OFF for a few hours.
8. When I got home and turned the phone back on, a message appeared saying I needed to update the software to iOS 5.0.1. I wirelessly downloaded the update.
9. I realized that the phone was still wirelessly downloading my photos. (When I looked at my photo album, a new photo would appear every few seconds.) I thought it was probably still working on music, too, and that it would probably go faster over USB, so I plugged in the iPhone and synced it to my iTunes library. This appeared to work - it said it was copying my whole library.
10. Today (the next day) I tried to play a playlist using the iPhone. About 50% of the songs play, and the other 50% do not. Puzzled, I connected the iPhone to iTunes, made sure I had "Sync Music" checked, and synced the iPhone. iTunes did a sync but did not copy any new data to the iPhone.

So, now: about 50% of the music on my iPhone will not play, even though the song titles and album art appear in playlists, etc. I have confirmed that if I try to play the songs by clicking on them while browsing the iPhone using iTunes, they do not play there either. (They are of course still on my computer, not corrupted or anything.) Basically, it seems as though the iPhone was interrupted while syncing the music and never finished it properly, but hasn't noticed.

What should I do to get all of my music back on my new iPhone, while keeping my other data safe?
posted by Cygnet to Technology (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you manage your music manually or automatically in iTunes?

I have seen this in the past on my phone 4s too, saying that I've just checked it's happening now. I don't know why it happens.

It tends to be fixed by switching from manual to automatic or visa versa, then back again.

iTunes will say all your music will be deleted off your phone, it doesn't effect any other part of your phone's setttings.

Apple support page on manually managing your media.
posted by ben30 at 8:07 AM on November 16, 2011

Also, I didn't read anything about if you have Apple Care or not. I do, and always find them very helpful. Is this an option, since it is a *new* product? I seem to remember my older iPhone you were allowed to call at least once after purchasing....
posted by 6:1 at 8:09 AM on November 16, 2011

A few questions:
1) are the songs on your iPhone grayed out or give any other indication the actual file isn't on your phone?
2) are the songs that aren't playing songs that you purchased via iTunes (either on your old phone, or your computer)? if so, are you logging into the phone and your computer using the same iTunes ID?

In addition to ben30's suggestion to try toggling the automatic/manual syncing option to see if that works, I would also try telling iTunes not not put on your music. Then sync. Then enable syncing again. Then sync again. Even though you may have the option to sync via wifi with iOS5 and iTunes 10.5, you should do this initial sync via USB. Once all media is on your phone again, you can use wifi syncing.

Also, before it wouldn't hurt to restart both your computer and your iPhone before trying the sync again.

If that still fails, you can get a free call to Apple Support or unlimited visits to Genius Bar at your closest Apple Store. If your music is on a notebook computer and you sync with that, bring that along too.
posted by birdherder at 8:27 AM on November 16, 2011

Thanks for the suggestions so far.

- I don't have AppleCare
- There is no indication at all on the iPhone that the songs aren't present
- I have purchased songs from iTunes, but some play and others don't, with no obvious pattern
- I have used the same Apple/iTunes account for everything; it's many years old and predates the first iPhone
posted by Cygnet at 8:34 AM on November 16, 2011

I've also experienced this exact problem after restoring from an iCloud backup from an iPhone 4. Doing what ben30 suggested worked for me. You just have to disable music syncing so it erases all the music off your iPhone then re-enable it again.
posted by yodangson at 8:41 AM on November 16, 2011

You should be able to get support for Apple even though you didn't purchase AppleCare, because you're still in the first 90 days of owning the phone.

I had a similar, but not identical problem with the sync/backup/restore process that I detailed in this question. I don't know if the same solution would work for you, but the takeaway messages I learned from that were:

1) Call Apple when you have time to wait on the phone to get to a second level rep.(Or select the "call me back" option.) You don't have to accept the first answer you're given. (You can be polite, but just really insistent that the data matters to you and you'd like to see if there are any other options.)

2) On a technical level restoring from the backup is not the same as reinstalling the OS and then restoring from the backup. (Maybe this is obvious to many, but it took three tech support people to recommend it, and it was what solved the problem).
posted by mercredi at 9:36 AM on November 16, 2011

So here's what I tried:
1. Set iTunes to NOT sync music.
2. Connect iPhone, sync. It deleted the music from the iPhone.
3. Set iTunes to sync music again.
4. Sync again. It said it was copying all my music.

It didn't work, but it did change something. Previously, all the songs that would not play appeared in the Music app on my iPhone. Now, they simply don't appear. Playlists that had 60 songs in them now only have 30 - clearly at least 50% of the content is still missing.

But, when I connect the phone to iTunes, it says that there are 1,402 songs on the iPhone. There are 1,417 songs in my iTunes library. Weird.
posted by Cygnet at 11:38 AM on November 16, 2011

Have you tried playing the missing songs on your computer?

iTunes might have a record of them, but if for some reason they don't exist on your pc, then iTunes won't be able to copy them over to your iPhone.

If they don't exist on disk, then you'll see a little grey "!" next to the track.
posted by ben30 at 2:46 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

That little detail about the "!" was helpful for my problem. My music is on a NAS. Macbook MUST be attached to the NAS before starting iTunes, or iTunes won't see the collection. Except for that annoyance, my upgrade/restore experience (3G to 4Gs) went smoothly.
posted by Goofyy at 8:42 AM on November 18, 2011

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