Why would a song not be eligible for iCloud music library?

iCloud Music Library is Apple’s service that allows users to store their personal music library in the cloud. It works by matching songs in a user’s library to songs available on Apple Music. This enables users to access their music across all their devices. However, some songs may not be eligible for iCloud Music Library. This article explores the various reasons why a song might not be eligible for storage in a user’s iCloud Music Library.

Copyright Restrictions

Songs and other content that are restricted by copyright laws may not be eligible for upload to iCloud Music Library if you don’t have the rights to that content. Music and media publishers have the ability to restrict certain songs, albums, music videos, etc. from being distributed by unauthorized sources like personal libraries.

For example, some record labels or artists may not authorize their copyrighted content to be uploaded to iCloud by individual users who did not purchase the songs directly from Apple Music. Songs purchased elsewhere or obtained without authorization would typically not be allowed in a personal iCloud Music Library due to copyright restrictions.

Some examples of copyright restricted content that may be blocked from iCloud Music Library include:12

  • Music purchased from other services besides Apple Music
  • Ripped CDs or MP3s not bought via Apple Music
  • Bootlegged concert recordings
  • Self-recorded covers of popular songs

Trying to upload this type of restricted content to iCloud Music Library will likely result in an error or the content being blocked from syncing across your devices.

Format Incompatibility

Certain audio formats are not supported by iCloud Music Library, which can prevent songs from being added. The main unsupported formats are:

  • WMA (Windows Media Audio) – This is a proprietary format developed by Microsoft that Apple does not support.
  • FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) – An open source lossless format that produces larger file sizes not ideal for streaming.
  • ALAC (Apple Lossless) – An Apple lossless format similar to FLAC with large file sizes.
  • AIFF – An uncompressed lossless audio format created by Apple.
  • DSD (Direct Stream Digital) – A very high resolution audio format not compatible with Apple Music.

The reason these formats are unsupported is that Apple Music relies on streaming compressed audio in more efficient formats like AAC and MP3. The uncompressed lossless formats take up too much bandwidth and space for efficient streaming and storage in the cloud. Apple converts all iCloud Music Library songs to 256kbps AAC for consistency across devices.

So if you try to add WMA, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF or other lossless files to your iCloud Music Library, they will not be accepted and cannot be streamed. To fix this, you would need to convert the files to a supported format like MP3 or AAC before re-uploading.

Apple Music Subscription

An Apple Music subscription is required for full access to iCloud Music Library. Without an active subscription, songs and albums cannot be uploaded or synced across devices. According to Apple’s support page, the “Sync Library” feature that enables iCloud Music Library is only available for Apple Music subscribers. Non-subscribers do not have the option to turn on Sync Library.

As explained in this iMore article, iCloud Music Library comes included with an Apple Music subscription. The subscription unlocks cloud syncing capabilities that are not available otherwise. Attempting to upload or sync music without an active subscription will result in errors.

In summary, an Apple Music subscription is mandatory for iCloud Music Library functionality. Without paying for Apple Music, syncing a music library across devices is not possible. This requirement exists because iCloud Music Library relies on Apple’s servers and cloud infrastructure, which are only accessible to paying subscribers.

Upload Limits

Apple places limits on the size of iCloud music libraries in order to manage storage capacity. According to Apple Support, iCloud music libraries are limited to 100,000 songs total, with each individual file being no larger than 200 MB (Apple Support). This allows for libraries up to around 20,000 GB in size. However, users have a finite amount of iCloud storage associated with their Apple ID, often starting with just 5GB for free accounts.

If a user attempts to upload an iCloud music library that exceeds their available iCloud storage, songs may fail to be added. Even those with paid iCloud storage tiers may hit their limit if their library is large enough. For example, a 2 TB plan could reach capacity with a 200,000 song library if average file sizes were around 10 MB each. Libraries that greatly exceed storage limits are ineligible for iCloud music until songs are removed or more space is purchased.

Metadata Issues

One common reason a song may not be eligible for iCloud Music Library is because it has missing or incorrect metadata like titles, tags, etc. According to Apple’s guidelines, songs uploaded to iCloud Music Library need to have accurate descriptive metadata to enable proper matching and syncing across devices (Apple Music metadata standards). This includes information like the song title, artist name, album name, track number, release date, and genre.

If this key metadata is missing, incomplete, or inaccurate, Apple’s system will not be able to match the song to its database of tracks. Without a correct match, the song cannot be added to your iCloud Music Library. Even small typos or variations in capitalization of metadata can prevent a match. Artists and creators need to closely review metadata and follow Apple’s guidelines to maximize eligibility and discoverability on the platform (Music metadata).

In summary, incorrect or absent metadata is a common barrier to getting songs into iCloud Music Library. Carefully checking and editing a song’s titles, artist names, album information, and other tags is an important step before attempting to upload your music.

Non-Music Content

iCloud Music Library is designed to store your music collection, including songs purchased from iTunes or uploaded from your computer. However, non-music content like audiobooks, podcasts, voice memos, etc. may not be eligible for iCloud Music Library. According to Apple Support, iCloud Music Library can only store up to 100,000 songs and music videos purchased from iTunes (1). Podcasts, audiobooks, and other non-music audio do not meet the criteria.

When you enable iCloud Music Library, any non-music files in your existing Apple Music library may be removed during the matching process. This is because iCloud Music Library is optimized for storing music only. Attempting to add non-music content like podcast episodes or audiobook chapters may result in errors or synchronization issues.

If you wish to access non-music content on your devices, you will need to use a separate app designed for podcasts or audiobooks. You can continue using Apple Music and iCloud Music Library for your music collection while relying on other apps for non-music audio.

DRM Protected Files

DRM (Digital Rights Management) protected files cannot be uploaded to iCloud Music Library.

DRM is a form of copy protection that restricts the usage and distribution of digital content and files. Music purchased from stores like iTunes before 2009 was sold with DRM encryption applied to the files. This encryption prevents the user from accessing the music on more than 5 authorized devices.

Since iCloud Music Library aims to provide seamless access to your music library across all your devices, it does not allow uploading of files with DRM encryption. If you attempt to upload DRM protected music files purchased from iTunes before 2009, iCloud Music Library will reject them with an error.

To add these older purchased files to iCloud Music Library, you would first need to remove the DRM encryption. This can be done by burning the files to a CD and then ripping them back to your computer as unencrypted MP3 or AAC files. These newly stripped versions could then be uploaded to iCloud.1

So in summary, the presence of DRM copy protection prevents music files from being added to iCloud Music Library. The DRM encryption would need to be legally removed before syncing the music across devices via iCloud.

Upload Errors

Various errors during the upload process can prevent songs from successfully syncing to iCloud Music Library. Common upload errors include interrupted uploads, network connectivity issues, authorization problems, and improper file formats (source).

If a music file encounters an error while trying to upload to iCloud, it will show an “Error” status. This prevents it from being added to your cloud music collection. Potential causes include unstable internet connections, unauthorized Apple IDs, unsupported file types, and corrupted music files (source).

To resolve upload errors, you can try restarting the iCloud Music Library sync on all devices, ensuring you have a strong and stable internet connection, updating to the latest iOS version, and checking that all music files are authorized and in a supported format. This should help successfully sync your music library to iCloud.


There are various reasons why a song may not be eligible for an iCloud music library upload. The key issues tend to revolve around copyright restrictions, file format compatibility, Apple Music subscription status, upload limits, metadata problems, non-music content detection, DRM protection, and failed uploads. By summarizing the main eligibility criteria, this article aimed to help users better understand why they may face challenges getting certain songs into their iCloud music library. With greater awareness of the technical and legal limitations, users can take steps to maximize the likelihood of a successful library upload.