Is iCloud music library same as Apple Music?

No, iCloud music library and Apple Music are not the same. While they are both music services from Apple, there are some key differences between them:

What is iCloud Music Library?

iCloud music library is Apple’s music syncing service that allows you to access your music library from all your devices that are connected to your iCloud account. With iCloud music library, you can:

  • Access your purchased iTunes music across iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC, Apple TV, and HomePod.
  • Sync music you imported from CDs or purchased from other stores.
  • Download and play Apple Music and your synced music library offline.

iCloud music library lets you store up to 100,000 songs for free from your personal collection. It serves as a hub to sync your music between devices linked to your Apple ID. Any music you buy from the iTunes Store is automatically added to your iCloud music library.

What is Apple Music?

Apple Music is Apple’s music streaming subscription service. For a monthly fee, you get access to:

  • Over 90 million songs on-demand without ads.
  • Curated playlists and radio stations.
  • New music recommendations based on your tastes.
  • Exclusive content like new releases and interviews.

With Apple Music, you don’t purchase and own songs like you would with iTunes purchases. Instead, you can stream any song in the Apple Music catalog on-demand as part of your subscription. If you end your subscription, you lose access to Apple Music’s catalog of songs.

Key Differences Between iCloud Music Library and Apple Music

Here are the main differences between iCloud music library and Apple Music:

iCloud Music Library Apple Music
Access your personal music library purchased from iTunes or imported from CDs Stream from Apple Music’s catalog of over 90 million songs
Syncs your music between devices Does not sync your own music library
Free service to store up to 100,000 songs Paid subscription service ($9.99/month individually)
Music you add is yours forever Lose access if you unsubscribe
Limited music recommendations Personalized music recommendations
No access to Apple Music catalog Full access to Apple Music catalog and content

Using iCloud Music Library and Apple Music Together

You can use both iCloud music library and Apple Music together to get the benefits of each service:

  • iCloud music library stores your personal music collection in the cloud.
  • Apple Music gives you access to stream millions more songs on demand.

When you enable iCloud music library on a device, it automatically makes any Apple Music songs you have added available on your other devices too. So your personal music library and Apple Music songs can co-exist together.

One limitation is that only iCloud music library songs can be downloaded for offline playback. Apple Music songs must be streamed online and cannot be downloaded for offline listening.

Should I Use iCloud Music Library and Apple Music?

Here are some things to consider on whether to use iCloud music library and Apple Music:

  • If you have an extensive personal music library, iCloud music library lets you store and sync it across devices.
  • Apple Music is ideal if you want to discover and access a huge catalog of music on-demand.
  • Using both together gives you access to both your personal collection and Apple’s catalog.
  • If you just want to listen to music you own, iCloud music library alone may be sufficient.
  • If you care mostly about having tons of music available to stream, Apple Music alone may be the better option.

In short, iCloud music library is best for accessing your owned music collection everywhere. Apple Music is best for expansive access to stream music. Using both together merges the best of both worlds.

How To Set Up iCloud Music Library

Follow these steps to set up iCloud music library on your Apple devices:

  1. Make sure all your devices are signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID.
  2. On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud.
  3. Toggle on “iCloud Music Library”.
  4. Tap “Done” then “Turn On” to confirm.
  5. Your music will begin uploading to iCloud. Time taken depends on size of library.
  6. On your Mac, open Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud and check “iCloud Music Library”.
  7. Any new music added on one device will now sync across the others.

Note that when you first enable iCloud music library, it will match songs in your library with copies from Apple’s iTunes catalog when possible. This allows you to access higher quality versions than those in your personal collection.

iCloud Music Library Considerations

Some things to be aware of with iCloud music library:

  • It counts against your total iCloud storage quota.
  • Uploading your library for the first time can take hours if not days.
  • You should have sufficient internet bandwidth and data to support streaming.
  • Music you purchased under a different Apple ID won’t sync.
  • Manually managing music and playlists on multiple devices can be cumbersome.

Overall though, iCloud music library provides a convenient way to keep your personal music collection available across all your Apple devices.

How To Set Up Apple Music

Follow these steps to set up an Apple Music subscription:

  1. Open the Music app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc.
  2. Tap the icon in the top left to open the side menu.
  3. Tap “For You” then “Try It Free”.
  4. Follow prompts to start your 3-month free Apple Music trial.
  5. You can cancel anytime during the trial to avoid being charged.
  6. Once subscribed, you can access Apple Music across any device signed in to your Apple ID.

With Apple Music set up, you’ll gain access to:

  • Over 90 million songs on-demand without ads.
  • New music personalized to your tastes.
  • Curated playlists by music experts.
  • Music videos, concerts, documentaries and more.

You’ll also see your own music library synced across devices when iCloud music library is enabled too.

Apple Music Considerations

Things to note about Apple Music:

  • Requires a paid monthly subscription after the trial.
  • Downloading songs for offline listening is limited.
  • Leaving the subscription removes access to Apple Music songs.
  • Song selection is limited in some countries.
  • Catalog varies over time as licenses change.

Overall though, Apple Music offers an unparalleled music experience with access to a vast catalog of songs, custom recommendations, and much more.

Pros and Cons of iCloud Music Library vs Apple Music

Here is a summary of the key pros and cons to consider:

iCloud Music Library Pros

  • Access your personal music collection everywhere.
  • Sync your owned music between devices.
  • Store up to 100,000 songs for free.
  • Music remains available if you unsubscribe from Apple Music.

iCloud Music Library Cons

  • Uploading and syncing your library can be slow.
  • No access to Apple’s catalog of over 90 million songs.
  • Limited music recommendations.
  • Harder to manage library and playlists across multiple devices.

Apple Music Pros

  • Access Apple’s catalog of over 90 million songs.
  • Listen to music without ads.
  • Get personalized playlists and recommendations.
  • Stream new releases and exclusive content.

Apple Music Cons

  • Monthly subscription fee after trial.
  • Can’t upload your personal music collection.
  • Lose access if you unsubscribe.
  • Streaming relies on having an internet connection.


iCloud music library and Apple Music serve different but complementary purposes. iCloud music library helps manage your personal music collection across devices. Apple Music offers streaming access to a vast, on-demand music catalog.

Using iCloud music library alone lets you conveniently access your owned music everywhere. An Apple Music subscription alone gives you unlimited streaming access without buying songs individually.

For the full iTunes and streaming music experience, you can use both iCloud music library and Apple Music together. This combines the benefits of both your personal collection and Apple’s huge streaming catalog.

So in summary:

  • iCloud music library = your personal music collection synced across devices
  • Apple Music = streaming access to millions of songs on-demand
  • iCloud + Apple Music = the best of both worlds together

The choice between them depends on your needs as a music listener. For serious Apple/iOS users with their own large music libraries, using both services together is often the ideal solution.