Ok, so my entire music library just disappeared from iTunes.
April 21, 2016 8:02 AM   Subscribe

I was noting to a friend the other day that iTunes sucked. Something must have heard me and decided to take revenge, because my entire music library just disappeared in a puff of smoke (not literally, but damn near). Halp!

I was on the subway listening to a song ("John Kanaka" by Skinny Lister, for the curious) and all of a sudden the song cut out. Not unheard of, because sometimes the headphones pop out or something. So I looked down and I had a message in the screen saying "This song cannot play because it contains explicit content." Wha? I don't have my iTunes set to skip explicit content.

So I try to look at my playlist, and I notice it's gone. And then I go to the music library. The entire library is gone. Just gone. There are literally zero bytes of music on my iPhone right now.

So what's happened here is that while I was using iTunes, the entire library disappeared. Truly. My hand to God -- it just disappeared from the phone while I was listening to it. All 4000-something songs. I didn't touch the iPhone; this just happened smack in the middle of a track.

To make everything more annoying, when I go to "settings>Music" on the iPhone and try to turn on iCloud music library, I get a message saying, "iCloud Music Library Can't Be Enabled. You can enable it later from Music in Settings. Until then, your music won't be available on your other devices."So I can't even re-download stuff that I already bought from the iTunes store (of which there is much).

"What the fucking fuck" doesn't even begin to cover this. How the hell can the entire library just go poof for literally no reason? I'm not panicked or anything, because everything is backed up elsewhere. But I'm seriously pissed off.

So, the actual questions:

1) Any idea of what went wrong here and how I can fix it? ("Fix it" in this case means "get the music back on the phone.")
2) How I can prevent this from happening in the future? If there's a systemic something, I'd really really like for it not to happen again.
3) Why can I not turn on iCloud Music Library from settings? And what the hell is "You can enable it later from Music in Settings" supposed to mean when I am trying to enable it from Music in Settings?
4) Final paranoid question, but I guess I may as well ask it: should I be worried that someone is deliberately fucking with me?

(I should note that I did try turning the phone on and off.)

Thanks, everyone.
posted by holborne to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's hard to diagnose without actually seeing the phone, but here are the steps I'd take in order of disruption/time spent.

When you say turned the phone off and on, did you do a hard reset by holding down both buttons until you see the apple logo?

I'd sign out of iCloud everywhere on my phone, then sign back in.

Then I'd sync my phone to my computer and make sure music is set to sync.

If all else failed, I'd restore my phone to factory settings and re-download everything.

There's no way someone deleted your music from your phone while it was in your pocket, IMO. I've never really heard of the memory in an iPhone failing, but it could be a software problem, like permissions being wrong after an update or something.
posted by Huck500 at 10:56 AM on April 21, 2016

Is your computer a Mac or PC? If it's a Mac, hold down the OPTION key while you click the iTunes icon and navigate to Home>Music>iTunes.

posted by Seeking Direction at 11:54 AM on April 21, 2016

Seeking Direction: that works on computers, not phones.
Go to the iTunes app and purchases. If your stuff is showing up, you should be able to redownload from there. If not, go to Settings > iTunes and App Store and sign out of your account, then sign back in.

Other options: restore phone, resync music.
posted by sleeping bear at 7:44 PM on April 21, 2016

Thanks everyone! In case you're all dying to know how it turned out: I did a hard reset as Huck500 suggested, and then I turned on iCloud music library, which worked just fine after the hard reset. Everything reappeared. I then had some gin and backed up everything again onto a separate drive.

Thanks again!
posted by holborne at 9:55 AM on April 25, 2016

In the last couple of days there was some 'unplanned downtime' on iCloud services, including Apple Music and iCloud Library, that sent some ripples through all sorts of connected things. Annoying, but glad to hear it's sorted!

(Side note: you can power cycle an iPhone by holding the sleep/wake button, then sliding the red power-off slider that appears. "Hard" rebooting (i.e. holding sleep/wake and home button together to reboot) more aggressively kills running processes (including cloud sync stuff) which could conceivably lead to data loss. It's not a huge risk but it's like turning off a computer by pulling the plug out of the wall -- it's not necessary to reboot that way, unless the system's locked/unresponsive.)
posted by churl at 4:47 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

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