Escape from Apple Music
July 20, 2021 6:14 AM   Subscribe

My music collection is in Apple Music and it was a huge mistake. It includes mp3s I joined the service with that "matched," mp3s that didn't match, mp3s that matched wrong (ugh), and also stuff I added to my library since signing up. Well, a bunch of my collection has disappeared over the years, I'm fed up, and I want out. How do I escape with the rest of my collection intact? I will throw money at this problem if I have to.
posted by nebulawindphone to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (I will throw money at the problem if I have to. I will also do some piracy if I have to. I'd rather not do those things manually, song-by-song or album-by-album, unless there's really no other way.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:17 AM on July 20, 2021

If I was in your situation and would not try Spotify, I would use Lidarr for a Plex-based PC server. You could just export a list of titles and Lidarr would recreate in Plex. Then you could download off of Plex if you wanted.

I would love to try to convince you to try Spotify premium.

Everyone I have convinced to try Spotify premium, even those most loyal to their local, tailored MP3 collection, have not gone back to their local music.

It's not that expensive ($15/5 accounts with family plan). You can download songs for offline listening and on desktop. It syncs across devices and recommends actual good music. You can control different devices from the app (change songs on your computer/Alexa/speakers from your phone).

The reason music pirating has gone down over the years is that Spotify is just that, that good.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:51 AM on July 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

You can download your entire library through iTunes with some degree of hassle--the last time I ever touched the program, the best way was creating a playlist of all the music and using the download option there, otherwise it was a matter of going by track/album/artist.

That'll be the matched library's current state only, of course--including all the warts of bad/mismatched tags etc. But it would give local files to rebuild a library from by re-adding in ripping from physical media if that's involved, from other sources, and whatnot. There's pretty much no way that I know of to do all of that without its own degree of hassle.
posted by Drastic at 7:07 AM on July 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

This is what musconv claims to do. It supports plex. I’ve never used it. If you try it, let us know what you think!
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:51 AM on July 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The thing about "local tailored music collection" is that I have mp3s of things my friends did, or of things that have gone out of print, or that are just very marginal in other ways.

The marginal things are especially tricky to know how to handle. Like, right now Spotify has this one weird song on this one weird compilation from this one tiny label, but will they always? I sometimes see other people's Spotify playlists whose taste in music I share, and there are usually at least a few songs that are grayed out, like "Sorry, this no longer exists." (And this is essentially the same problem I have with Apple Music, though Spotify handles it more gracefully, graying out the song in the playlist rather than disappearing it without a trace.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:24 AM on July 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Make a playlist of your music in iTunes... you can do this with the whole collection, or make a playlist with just the stuff you want.

Export it (File - Library - Export playlist) in .xml or .txt format

Go to

SIgn up for a single month (£3ish) make sure you don't buy the 6 month payment option. Once you have paid you can cancel immediately, and you will still have access for a month.

Import your playlist (top right)

Now choose your streaming platform of choice (sign up to Spotify, Deezer etc.) and match your playlist with the albums, songs, or artists on that platform, depending on how you like to organise your music.

It won't find everything, but at least with Spotify you will get most stuff.

You are now a streamer.

[It's possible you can skip the playlist export part, and sync directly from iTunes music in Soundiiz, but I don't have this service, so can't test.]

There are also ways to use this method to then export all the mp3s or even high res FLAC files from one of these mentioned services, but if I told you how to do it I would have to kill you (piracy is bad, google is your friend).
posted by 0bvious at 10:00 AM on July 20, 2021

I'd go a different route -- I'd suggest just trying out Plex! You should be able to follow the instructions and fairly easily create a Plex server. If you purchase their premium service (Plex Pass), the matching will be better and you get lots of cool benefits w/r/t how you can stream your music on various devices. IIRC, Plex has a special import for iTunes (probably now Apple Music) libraries that worked pretty well when I did it years ago.

Then, once you have things set up and going, you can choose to subscribe to a streaming service. (Plex actually has a deal w/ Tidal, if you're into that, so you can do everything in one interface.)

I'm a big fan of having my old, stalwart music collection in Plex, even though I also use Google's music service (now YouTube Music).
posted by nosila at 10:17 AM on July 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

I don't have a solution to offer, but can confirm your fears that super obscure things may not be available, or may become unavailable on Spotify. My spouse has very obscure music tastes, and there are some things he has to retain on CD or mp3.
posted by missrachael at 10:29 AM on July 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you have the music files in your possession, as in on local storage, Plex might be worth looking in to. I have a bunch of music in iTunes / Music on an old MacBook Pro, and dragged those files across the network to my Mac mini running Plex. Once I put the files in the folder where Plex was expecting them to live, they were seen and added to my music library.

Now, if I want to buy music, usually from Bandcamp, I just download the files directly to that folder and they're available. Or, if I have a physical CD (I'm old, I still buy CDs) I just import that into iTunes, which uses the same folder as Plex, and they show up in Plex.
posted by ralan at 11:23 AM on July 20, 2021

Response by poster: If I download my collection from iTunes, what are my options for making it usable in Plex? I haven't looked into the current situation, but in the past I've gotten the impression Apple's DRM was hard to get around.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:38 AM on July 20, 2021

Links aren't going to be well received here, some googling will uncover suitable tools.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:40 AM on July 20, 2021

If I download my collection from iTunes, what are my options for making it usable in Plex?

That I don't know. All the music I imported into Plex were things I had personally added to iTunes by importing a physical CD (I'm old...). Things that I had purchased from iTunes I didn't even consider moving. I'm sure there are ways around it, but I've never looked into it.
posted by ralan at 11:46 AM on July 20, 2021

Plex is for your whole media library: TV, movies, and music.

They offer a dedicated music app called Plexamp that you have to buy a Plex Pass subscription to use. It's really good on the Mac, and I wish I had bought my lifetime Plex pass a lot sooner! (There's also a more general Plex client app that plays any media.)

Note that Apple Music is available anywhere that you have cell or wifi service -- but your Plex server sits on your home network, and has to be carefully exposed to the Internet. (I have refused to do this, because I run Plex on my Synology NAS, and a single exploit could open up my whole system. No thank you. Their security history is pretty good, but I am very cautious.)
posted by wenestvedt at 11:46 AM on July 20, 2021

So if you download it from iTunes Match, the songs you download are un-DRM'ed .m4a AAC files. I mean, they have your name in the tags I think, so I wouldn't go uploading them to the bay or anything, but they're not "traditionally" DRM'ed and unplayable except in Apple Music (the app, not the service).

I mean, at least hucking any of "matched", "purchased", and "uploaded" songs out of my local music library at Windows Media Player, they all open and played fine.

Note that downloading iTunes Match media can be an exciting journey into "an error occurred while downloading this song". They come back eventually, but I suspect only when some admin somewhere gets an error report and digs a tape out of the iron mountain.
posted by Kyol at 3:56 PM on July 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

I checked - your name is in the tags for "purchased" and "matched", which are just purchased songs you acquired a license for by way of matching something in the store. "uploaded" is whatever you sent to them in the first place.
posted by Kyol at 4:06 PM on July 20, 2021

I'm old enough to remember a record collection as a pile of records and CDs. Part of the fun of it was creating some kind of playlists out of it - for a mix-tape or just on the whim of whatever was pulled off the shelf by friends. For me, one the reasons for having a locally held music collection, is to preserve that feeling: tracks I know very well, those I have not heard for ages (if at all). Some tracks might be well known and others super-obscure to the point of being near unique. The best playlists, of course, would not be random but would have some kind of theme preserving their continuity: something like a well thought out DJ set. It sounds like this something you too might like.

Streaming services are good (sometimes great) at generating playlists of music they think you would like based on some see material. But not so great at limiting that list to your own music - as I refer to above. Once nice exception that was around for a while, was Google Music, which would allow you to upload your music connection, select any given track on it and then generate a playlist from your collection. This would even work if the track was super obscure or something you had recorded yourself (the service would do acoustic as well as meta-data analysis). The service was great and free. Google axed it.

PlexAmp - as mentioned - above - is the closest things I could get to a replacement for this. It allows you to choose an artist from your collection and then use that as a root to start a collection. Against, the fact that your artist is obscure or unique - should not matter.
posted by rongorongo at 5:31 AM on July 21, 2021

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