What happens to my music library if I join Apple Music?

Apple Music is a subscription-based music streaming service launched by Apple in 2015. It gives users access to a vast catalog of over 90 million songs that can be streamed and downloaded for offline listening. With an Apple Music subscription, users gain features like unlimited skips, ad-free listening, high quality audio, and personalized recommendations.

Many existing music library owners wonder what will happen to their personal collections if they decide to subscribe to Apple Music. Will their existing songs and playlists be affected or replaced? Understanding the interaction between a user’s owned music library and Apple Music’s streaming catalog is important for making an informed subscription decision.

Music You’ve Purchased

Any music you’ve purchased through the iTunes Store or Apple Music will remain safely in your library when you subscribe to Apple Music, and you’ll continue to have full access to it (1). Even if you decide to cancel your Apple Music subscription later, all your purchased music will still be available in your library. Purchased music is yours to keep forever.

So you don’t need to worry about losing access to any songs, albums or other media that you’ve paid for. Whether you’ve bought music directly on your iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC, or whether you’ve downloaded previous purchases by going to Account > Purchased on the iTunes Store, all these purchases stay in your permanent library (2).

Apple Music is intended to complement your existing music library, not replace it. So rest assured your personal collection is safe if you join the streaming service.

(1) https://support.apple.com/guide/music/download-previous-purchases-musf4e9226b/mac

(2) https://support.apple.com/guide/itunes/download-previous-purchases-itns36a8f323/windows

Music You’ve Ripped from CDs

One common concern when considering Apple Music is what happens to music you’ve ripped from your personal CD collection and added to your library. The good news is that when you join Apple Music, any music you’ve ripped from CDs and imported will remain untouched in your library.

Apple Music does not replace, remove, or alter tracks you’ve ripped yourself. According to discussions on the Apple Support Communities forum, users have confirmed that ripped music remains intact after subscribing to the service (source). Your personally ripped tracks will not be affected at all.

So you can rest assured that any music you’ve taken the time to rip and import from CDs will still be there as you left it. Apple Music is designed to supplement your existing library, not change or replace it in any way. Subscribing gives you access to Apple’s catalog of over 90 million songs to stream, but does not touch the music you’ve added yourself.

Ripped CDs are considered your personal content, separate from the Apple Music catalog. The service is aware of this distinction, and your custom music and playlists stay private. So go ahead and subscribe to Apple Music without worry – your meticulously ripped and tagged music collection will remain intact.

Music You’ve Downloaded

Any music you’ve downloaded directly to your device from the iTunes Store or Apple Music will remain after you sign up for Apple Music. When you download music using Apple Music, it is saved locally on your device so you can listen offline. This downloaded music will not be affected when you become an Apple Music member.

According to Apple Support, “Downloaded Music, then tap Downloading. Note: If the music you downloaded was purchased, it remains in your library even if your Apple Music membership ends.” (https://support.apple.com/guide/iphone/add-music-and-listen-offline-iph0cff2d191/ios)

So rest assured that any music you’ve paid for and downloaded, either before or during your Apple Music membership, will stay in your library permanently and be available for offline listening.


When you join Apple Music, playlists you’ve created containing songs from your personal library will remain available. This includes playlists made up of music you’ve purchased, ripped from CDs, or downloaded over the years. The key benefit is you get to bring these playlists with you into Apple Music.

However, playlists containing songs that are only available through an Apple Music subscription may become unavailable if you later cancel Apple Music. This is because those songs are not actually owned by you, but rather streamed through your Apple Music membership. So playlists with a mix of owned songs and Apple Music songs would lose the subscription songs after cancellation.

To avoid problems, you can download playlists containing Apple Music songs for offline listening before canceling. This allows you to keep access to the playlists even without a subscription. But you lose the ability to stream those songs. Another option is to recreate similar playlists using songs solely from your personal library after canceling Apple Music.

Overall, the playlists you create out of your own music library will seamlessly transfer and integrate into Apple Music. It’s only customized playlists reliant on the Apple Music catalog that may become unavailable down the line. But with proper preparation, you can retain access to all your cherished playlists.

Source: Apple Music List – Playlist

Listening History

When you join Apple Music, your full listening history and play counts will be preserved. Apple Music keeps track of every song you listen to within the service, including music you’ve purchased, ripped from CDs, or downloaded from other sources. This listening data is viewable in your profile under the “Recently Played” section.

You can see your top artists, albums, and songs over various time ranges, from the past month all the way up to your “All Time” history. Apple Music also provides analytics showing your top genres and how many minutes you’ve listened to each genre. This allows you to get a snapshot of your listening preferences.

In addition, Apple Music has a feature called Replay that creates an auto-updating playlist of your top songs each year. So even after joining the streaming service, your Replay playlist will continue building based on your full listening activity across purchased music, Apple Music, and more (source). Essentially, Apple Music envelops your existing library rather than replacing it.

Music Storage

One common concern when joining Apple Music is how it will impact your overall music storage limits, especially for content you’ve purchased or ripped yourself. According to discussions on Apple’s support forums, Apple Music streaming songs do not count against your storage limit. As one user on Apple’s discussions stated, “Streaming songs don’t count against the limit.” This means any music purchased or downloaded from other sources has its own separate storage allotment from the music available through your Apple Music subscription.

So rest assured, signing up for Apple Music does not reduce the amount of storage space you have available for the music library you’ve accumulated over time. The streaming songs access through Apple Music essentially have their own separate “cloud” storage through Apple’s servers. Your personal music library storage limit remains the same. This gives you the benefit of Apple Music’s vast catalog of songs without impacting your personal music storage capacity.

Library Management

One concern users may have when joining Apple Music is how it will affect the organization of their personal music library. The good news is that you maintain full control over managing and organizing your library after subscribing to the service.

Apple Music does not reorganize or change your existing music library structure without your permission. The music you’ve added from your personal collection remains separately organized and structured based on however you’ve chosen to manage it.

For example, if you organize your music in playlists or use a specific file hierarchy, those structures remain intact. Apple Music simply adds its streaming catalog as a separate section, while your own music stays in your native Music app library.

Some users have expressed annoyance that Apple Music feels bifurcated – split between the streaming catalog and your owned music (Source). However, your personal organizational system and preferences are fully preserved and do not get disrupted by Apple Music’s catalog.

You remain in full control to organize, edit metadata, create playlists, and manage your music library however you choose. Apple Music is designed to supplement your collection, not reorganize it. Rest assured your library management system will stay intact after joining the service.

Syncing with Devices

One of the biggest benefits of an Apple Music membership is the ability to sync your music library across all your devices. According to Apple’s support article (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204926), with the Sync Library feature enabled, any music you add to your library on one device will automatically download to your other devices. This includes iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs, Apple Watches, and even Android phones.

Syncing works through iCloud Music Library, which stores your Apple Music collection in the cloud. As long as your devices are connected to the internet and signed in to the same Apple ID, any changes you make to your library such as adding songs or downloading playlists will sync across devices (https://support.apple.com/guide/music/access-your-music-library-on-all-your-devices-musa3dd5209/mac).

This seamless syncing makes it easy to download and access your favorite music no matter which device you’re using. You can start listening to an album on your iPhone, pause it, then pick up right where you left off on your iPad or Mac. It’s a convenient way to take your music with you wherever you go.


In summary, joining Apple Music does not affect the music you already own through purchases, CD rips, or downloads. Your existing music library remains intact, and you maintain full access to all your playlists, listening history, and personally synced content.

An Apple Music membership simply adds a streaming catalog of over 100 million songs that you can access across your devices. It does not replace or alter the music you’ve acquired over the years. Instead, Apple Music complements your current library by giving you access to an expansive streaming catalog on top of the music you already own.

With Apple Music, you get the best of both worlds – continuing access to your personal music collection and the ability to stream just about any song you could want. Your music library and Apple Music membership work hand-in-hand to fulfill all your musical needs.