Apple Music is a subscription-based music streaming service from Apple. Users pay a monthly fee to access over 90 million songs that can be streamed on demand through the Apple Music app. With an active subscription, users can not only stream music, but also download songs, albums, and playlists to their device for offline listening (source).
When an Apple Music subscription ends, either because the user cancels or it expires, access to the service’s on-demand streaming catalog is lost. Downloaded music is also affected, with Apple removing downloads from a user’s devices when the subscription lapses (source). However, music purchased from the iTunes Store is not impacted, as those downloads are permanent.
Music Downloaded vs Streamed
There is an important difference between downloaded and streamed music on Apple Music. When you download a song, it is saved locally on your device and you can listen to it offline. Downloaded songs do not require an internet connection and will remain available even if your Apple Music subscription ends. However, streamed music requires an active internet connection and a current Apple Music subscription. If your subscription ends, you will lose access to all streamed songs in your library. According to this Apple forum thread, users are unable to play downloaded music on their Homepod without an active Apple Music subscription.
To summarize, downloaded songs can be played offline and remain after canceling Apple Music, while streamed songs require a subscription and internet connection. This key difference affects what music you can access if you unsubscribe.
Music that you have downloaded from Apple Music can be kept and played even after canceling your Apple Music subscription, according to Apple’s support page (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204926). When you download a song, album or playlist from Apple Music, it is saved locally on your device. So even if you cancel your subscription, that downloaded music will not be deleted and you can continue listening to those songs, albums or playlists offline.
However, remember that you can only download 100,000 songs per device from Apple Music. So if you plan to cancel Apple Music, make sure to download your favorite music before ending your subscription. Downloads are device-specific, so you’ll need to download music separately on each device that you want available offline.
Music that is streamed through Apple Music is not actually downloaded or saved to your device. Instead, it is played directly from Apple’s servers whenever you listen. This means that if your Apple Music subscription ends, you will lose access to any songs and albums you had previously streamed.
According to discussions on the Apple forums, when your subscription expires, any music you had previously streamed will become unavailable. Without an active subscription, you cannot stream or listen to that music through Apple Music anymore.
However, any playlists you have created containing streamed music will still be saved, even though the songs themselves will be unplayable. If you renew your Apple Music subscription at a later point, the streamed songs will become available and playable again through those playlists.
So in summary, streamed music cannot be accessed without an active subscription, but your Apple Music playlists containing those songs will remain intact for if/when you resume your subscription.
iCloud Music Library
The iCloud Music Library allows you to access your music collection across all your devices. It matches the music you’ve either purchased from iTunes or uploaded from your computer to the cloud. This means you can stream or download your music on any device logged into your Apple ID.
However, according to discussions on the Apple forums, your iCloud Music Library will no longer be accessible once your Apple Music subscription ends. Any music you’ve added or matched through the iCloud Music Library will be greyed out and unplayable. You’ll lose access to stream or download any of that music until you renew your subscription.
Essentially, any music content stored solely in your iCloud Music Library will be inaccessible without an active Apple Music membership. Only music you’ve purchased through iTunes or downloaded to your device storage will remain playable after cancellation.
Playlists created during an Apple Music subscription are saved even after the subscription ends. However, without an active subscription, you can’t play or download the songs on the playlists. The playlists themselves will still be visible in your library, but the songs will be grayed out and unplayable.
According to discussions on the Apple forums, your playlists stay in your library but you “lose access” to the songs on them once your subscription expires. This means you can see the playlist titles and track names, but can’t actually listen to the tracks anymore unless you renew your subscription.
As explained on Reddit, Apple Music playlists stick around after cancellation so you can “see” them, but there is no way to actually access the full songs in the playlists without an active subscription. So the playlists remain for renewal purposes, but the music itself is inaccessible.
So in summary, Apple Music keeps your playlist titles and organization in your library when your subscription lapses, but disables the ability to play or download the actual song contents. This allows users to easily resume their full playlists if they restart their subscription.
If your Apple Music subscription ends, the easiest way to regain access to your music is to renew your subscription. You can renew your Apple Music subscription right from your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC by following these steps:
On your iPhone or iPad, open the App Store app and tap on your profile picture in the top right corner. Then tap on ‘Subscriptions’ and select your Apple Music subscription. Tap ‘Renew Subscription’ and follow the on-screen prompts to renew.
On your Mac, open the App Store app, click on your profile picture, and select ‘View Information’. Click on ‘Manage’ next to your Apple Music subscription and then click ‘Renew’.
On your PC, open the Apple Music app, click on ‘Account’ and select ‘Subscriptions’. Click on ‘Renew’ next to your Apple Music subscription.
Once renewed, your Apple Music subscription will be active again and you’ll have access to all your previously downloaded and saved music. According to discussions on the Apple forums, your Apple Music library should be restored after renewing your subscription, unless the lapse was very long.
If you decide not to renew your Apple Music subscription, there are several alternative music streaming services to consider. Some top options include:
Spotify – Spotify has a massive music library and playlists like Apple Music. There is a free, ad-supported version or a paid premium option. Spotify lacks some extra features like Apple’s live radio stations. (Source)
YouTube Music – YouTube’s music streaming option allows both video and audio streaming. The paid version removes ads and allows background listening. YouTube Music may lack some newer releases compared to Apple Music. (Source)
Amazon Music Unlimited – Amazon’s premium music service rivals Apple Music’s library size. It integrates well with Alexa devices. The mobile app experience may not be as polished as Apple’s. (Source)
Pandora – Pandora has a free ad-supported tier that creates customized radio stations. The paid Pandora Plus allows on-demand listening. Pandora recommends music based on algorithms rather than human curation. (Source)
Consider downloading any purchased music before canceling Apple Music. Check each alternative service for features, pricing, and device compatibility before switching. Evaluate which music streaming model best suits your listening preferences.
Downloading Music Before Ending Subscription
If you want to keep access to songs from Apple Music after canceling your subscription, the best option is to download any music you want to keep before your subscription ends. Here’s how it works:
While your Apple Music subscription is still active, go to the Apple Music app and tap on any album, playlist or song you want to download for offline listening. Next to the download icon, you’ll see a cloud icon for items that are only available through streaming. Tap the cloud icon and the song, album or playlist will download to your device so you can listen offline.
According to discussions on the Apple support forums, any music you download in this way before your subscription ends will remain on your device and available for listening even after you cancel Apple Music:
“You’ll lose the Apple Music tracks you downloaded, but not individual purchases.” (Source)
“Once your Apple Music subscription is canceled you will lose access to the playlists you created and any music you’ve downloaded.” (Source)
So by proactively downloading music you want to keep access to before your subscription ends, you can continue listening to those songs even without paying for Apple Music. Just be aware that any music you didn’t download ahead of time will become unavailable after canceling the subscription.
When an Apple Music subscription ends, any music that was downloaded can still be played and kept on your devices. However, any music that was streamed will no longer be available to play. If you had an iCloud Music Library enabled, this downloaded music will also no longer be accessible. Playlists created may still show the songs, but they will be grayed out and unplayable if they were streamed.
To keep access to the streamed music, you would need to renew your Apple Music subscription. Alternatively, you could download any music you want to keep before ending your subscription. Overall, downloaded music can be kept and played without a subscription, but streamed music requires an active subscription to continue accessing it.