Why does Apple Music eat all my data?
August 13, 2023 9:06 PM   Subscribe

So a friend and AskMe convinced me to get apple music. The only problem (apart from it not having lots of music) is that it eats up my data in a couple of days. I have 9GB of data before I get throttled. If I play Apple Music, it's gone in a few days. But my friend plays it for hours a day more than I do and says it hardly uses any of her data. Like less than a gig a month. What's up? Can I fix it?

I have an andrdoid Samsung S22+. My friend has an iphone.

I have the setting set to use the maximum cache. I have Celldular Data Saver on.

I go to the library and hit shuffle. I have a bunch of artists I really like downloaded, but there's no way I can download everything.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Lossless audio is OFF and Cellular Streaming is set to "high efficiency."
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:08 PM on August 13, 2023

I go to the library and hit shuffle

Do you know if your friend has a similar usage pattern, or if she’s more likely to repeat the same few songs/albums over and over? I wonder if there is some sort of background caching going on in her case.
posted by btfreek at 9:28 PM on August 13, 2023

Another (perhaps obvious) possibility is that your friend primarily uses Apple Music while her devices are on wi-fi, and you do not…
posted by btfreek at 9:34 PM on August 13, 2023 [4 favorites]

Your friend might be on t-mobile, or another carrier with a special deal.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:42 PM on August 13, 2023 [3 favorites]

Apple music is going to use ~40-70 MB per hour, depending on selected audio quality. (Assuming you are not streaming lossless. Lossless can get into the 100s of MB per hour.)

If you're the kind of person that regularly has music playing in the background as you go about your day (or while you work and commute) you can easily get to 1GB per day if you're doing that all through your mobile data plan.

Best practices for streaming is to always connect to WiFi if when you can, especially if you have a smaller data plan. Your friend is likely often connected to a WiFi network. Another possibility is that your friend has set Apple Music to download playlists to their device. If you often listen to the same albums or playlists it is a really good idea to set your streaming app to keep those downloaded. That way it does not have to keep downloading that music over your data plan over and over again.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 10:25 PM on August 13, 2023 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: My friend is using it while driving, as am I. She lives at the end of the earth and has close family living even farther and thus drives WAY more than I do. I will ask her about playlists/playing the same songs etc. We are in Canada where I don't think there are any special deals for streaming music (isn't that illegal? net neutrality?) She's probably with Bell. Maybe Rogers.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:37 AM on August 14, 2023

It's possible the "maximum cache" setting is prospectively downloading lots of songs and albums to store on your device so it can keep playing tunes when you are offline. If you don't find another cause of the problem, I'd experiment with adjusting that setting.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 6:41 AM on August 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

If you want to minimize cellular data usage with Apple Music, the best approach is to pre-download songs/albums/playlists while connected to wifi, and then only play what you have already downloaded.

You can shuffle amongst downloaded songs if you like -- Tap "Library" then "Downloaded content" then "Songs" and then hit the "Shuffle" button.

When I'm using Apple Music heavily on cellular data (e.g. a 7-hour roadtrip where I'm streaming from the internet the entire time) it does get into 500MB-1GB/day territory. But typically I'm either listening while connected to wifi, listening to albums I've already downloaded, or streaming in short 20-30min bursts while out and about, which doesn't use too much data.
posted by mekily at 9:55 AM on August 14, 2023 [2 favorites]

Apple Music has a handful of “For You” playlists that change every week, and many playlists for various genres that change up periodically. If you add one of these and “download”, they will—in my experience—update over wifi overnight. And cycle out the previous playlist songs from local storage. Playing from these will result in minimal data used (there does seem to be a check that you still have a valid Apple Music account, though I have not been able to figure out how long you can go without this check). I use this whenever I am on a flight and airplane mode/not-paying-$25-for-wifi prevents streaming entirely.
posted by jraenar at 10:52 AM on August 15, 2023

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