Fill my life (well, iPhone) with music, please!
April 11, 2020 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Hi! This feels like it must be a dumb question, but I haven’t been able to figure it out, so I am hoping you can handhold me through this. How do I get my large music library from my external drive to my iPhone?

I have a ton of music that I downloaded in HS and college, which I used to listen to on my laptop through iTunes or VLC or whatever I was using in the 90s/00s. Nowadays, my music library lives in an external drive that I access over WiFi (MyCloud). How do I get it to live on my iPhone? Bonus challenge: I don’t want to have to have it served to me via a cloud. I just want it on my device.

I can access it song by song through the MyCloud app, but this is a pretty inferior listening method and doesn’t allow me to make playlists. I tried setting it up to sync with iTunes on my computer and then syncing that with my iPhone, but that only worked some of the time and never if my computer went to sleep (which... it does). And I want to be able to listen to my music even if my internet goes out or I’m in a place with weak or no wifi.

So is there a way to actually save the music files on my iPhone, or at least make them accessible to me in a way that doesn’t require laptop intermediation or use of the lame MyCloud app?
posted by prefpara to Technology (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Tthere's this EaseUS Mobimover freeware that lets you transfer files fromMac or PC to iPhone.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:00 AM on April 11, 2020

Now I see where you don't want "laptop intermediation" but I'm not sure channeling the external drive through a computer is that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:02 AM on April 11, 2020

Response by poster: Thank you, Kirth Gerson! This reminds me that I forgot to add a complicating detail - music files saved to my iDevice Files do not show up in the Music app... So I should have said that transfer is only part of the problem I am facing.
posted by prefpara at 11:03 AM on April 11, 2020

I've used iMazing to good effect to drag and drop folders of music onto my iPhone. I've only used it on a mac, but it also has a windows version. You do this once and the files are on the phone until you delete them or whatever.
posted by aubilenon at 11:04 AM on April 11, 2020

iPhones are weird and annoying in that music can't be played in the iPhone music app unless you transfer it through iTunes or a narrow list of other (generally not free) utilities--if you just put it on your phone some other way, the music app generally won't be able to play it.

If you aren't invested in using Apple's own music app on your iphone, you will have more options. I've been testing out Flac Player+, which is a music player app you put on your iPhone and which will then let you transfer files to your iPhone over wifi by typing a specific address in a web browser. You'll need your computer and your phone to be on the same wifi network to transfer files but then the music files will be on your phone for good. (They still won't be playable by Apple's own music app though.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:28 PM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I tried setting it up to sync with iTunes on my computer and then syncing that with my iPhone, but that only worked some of the time and never if my computer went to sleep (which... it does).

I’m puzzled by this, because it’s what I do. I sync some playlists from iTunes to my iPhone. The tracks are then on my phone and I can play them whether my Mac is awake or not, because there’s no connection.

Every so often I sync them again so that new music and updated playlists on the Mac sync to the phone (which does require the Mac to be awake, but that’s fine because I’m there making the sync happen).
posted by fabius at 5:33 AM on April 12, 2020

Best answer: Look into Google Music. You might have to pay a monthly fee (similar to Spotify or Apple music), or maybe not if you're only using your own music, but basically you install software on your computer and set it to "scan" whatever folders contain your music. I assume you could set it to scan the external hard drive if you can network it, or maybe there's some other way, I don't fully understand your set up. But then all your music is in your Google account. You download Google's music player app to your phone. At this point all your music is still in the cloud but you can download any songs/playlists/albums you want to your phone (and any other device) for offline listening. They aren't "on your phone" in the same way they'd be from iTunes, for example other apps won't be able to access the songs, but this is what I've done for years and it works perfectly. I haven't had iTunes on any computer for 10+ years.
posted by thebazilist at 7:13 AM on April 12, 2020

Response by poster: Thank you thank you thank you, thebazilist! It worked!
posted by prefpara at 5:31 PM on April 12, 2020

For the record, you can do nearly the same thing with Apple Music at this point, which is how i got my not-tiny collection onto my new phone several months ago.

I'm basically paying for AM for two reasons:

1. To simplify music management for my wife, because our household server situation is baroque; and

2. So that I never have to plug a cable in and sync.
posted by uberchet at 6:53 AM on April 13, 2020

To be fair, the Google Music "matching" service is free (for now), up to 50,000 songs. Apple requires a subscription.
posted by dobi at 9:58 AM on April 13, 2020

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