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Do More With Apple Music Streaming Service—Part 3

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:

In the previous tutorials, I've shown you how to take advantage from the basic features in Apple Music

For You is the heart of Apple Music. With tweaking and further refinement you can change the entire music discovery and listening experience. 

In this final of three tutorials, I'll show you how to:


  • Manage offline music in PCs and smartphones
  • Get lyrics for the songs you love
  • Share an Apple Music membership

Create a Custom Radio Station in Apple Music

With an Apple Music membership, you can listen to curated on-demand stations or create your own custom stations. These stations don’t have any ads, and you can skip an unlimited number of songs.

Apple Music Radio lets you listen only few Featured Stations, in such case your listening experience would be somewhat limited. You can create your own custom radio station and in turn take advantage from the vast Apple Music catalogue.

Apple Music Radio stations don’t play music just by that artist; behind the scenes it works like a genius playlist. For example, if you choose an album for an Apple Music Radio station, you’ll get to listen few songs from that album, others by the same artist, and others by similar artists.

On a Mac

Click the Search box in the upper-right corner of iTunes. Type in the artist name, album, or a song and click All Apple Music

Scroll to the Stations section and choose the station to which you want to listen. You can access the new station in the Recently Played section of the Radio view.

choose-premade-station-apple-music
Choose pre-made station from the Apple Music Radio

While listening to a custom radio station, click the Star icon in the Now Playing screen, and choose either Play More Like This or Never Play This Song. When you do this, Apple Music learns from your preference, your Likes and Dislikes, that in turn gives better recommendations. 

Click Add to Library to save the song to your library.

fine-tune-custom-radio-station-mac
Click Star to fine tune your radio station

On iOS

Tap the Search tab at the bottom of the screen. Type in the artist name, album, or a song and click Apple Music

Scroll to the Stations section and choose the station to which you wish to listen. 

You can access the new station in the Recently Played section of the Radio tab. Recently added stations sync with a Mac too, but only when you turn on the iCloud Music Library.

create-premade-station-ios
Choose pre-made station from the Apple Music Radio

When you find a song or artist, from which you'd like to create a station, use 3D touch or tap More… icon. 

Tap Create Station to start playing the radio. You can also ask Siri to Start a station from… and then say the name of the song, album, or artist.

create-custom-radio-station-ios
Create a custom radio station on iOS

On Android

Tap the Search icon at the top of the screen. Enter the artist name, album, or a song and click All Apple Music

Scroll to the Stations section and choose the station to which you wish to listen. 

You can access the new station in the Recently Played section of the Radio tab. Recently added station syncs with Mac and iOS devices when you turn on the iCloud Music Library.

choose-premade-station-android
Choose pre-made radio station in an android device

When you find a song or artist, from which you would like to create a station, tap the More… icon, and tap Radio icon to start the radio.

start-radio-station-from-a-song-android
Start radio station from any song or a album

Manage Offline Music on PCs and Smartphones

With an active Apple Music subscription, you can

  • Add any song, playlist, or albums from the Apple Music Library to the local Library, and listen offline—This works well when you don’t have an Internet connection
  • Stream them directly—Technically, it downloads the entire track you’re listening to, and plays it. If you play them again, they get cached on the device. iTunes manages the cache, deleting files as your disk space decreases.

On a Mac

The iTunes stores caches in a hidden Library folder and by default this folder is not visible.

To make it visible, press Option key while you’re in the Go menu of Finder app. Go to

~/Library/Caches/com.apple.itunes

On Windows, the cache gets stored in

C:\Users\Username\AppData\Local\Apple Computer\iTunes (replace username with the User Name)

The SubscriptionPlayCache folder contains actual music files, and fsCachedData folder possibly contains album artwork. Depending upon usage the folder size could range from few megabytes to few gigabytes.

location-cached-folder-itunes
Location of cached folder in Finder

If you’re wondering what you’ve been listening to, and want to delete its cache, View Cached Music app will fetch and display basic information about the audio files Apple Music has cached, access and let you view album artwork, or let you even delete those cached mp3 files.

When you download any song, or an album from Apple Music, it gets stored in ~/Music/iTunes/Apple Music (this is the default folder location), unless you have changed its location from iTunes Preference > Advanced tab.

In Windows, music gets stored in

C:\Users\username\My Music\iTunes\Apple Music (replace username with your User Name)

In iTunes, secondary-click the song, album, or playlist that you wish to remove.

Choose Remove Download to remove the item for offline listening. The item will remain in the Library on all the devices. 

Choose Delete From Library to remove the item completely from the Library on all the devices.

remove-offline-music-from-apple-music
Remove offline albums in Apple Music

On iOS

Managing storage on an iOS device is often difficult. If you stream music to an iOS device using Apple Music, or sync it with iCloud Music Library, the iOS device will download music on your request.

As you stream and download, space on the iOS device begins to decrease. With iOS 10, Apple has added a new setting that lets iOS automatically remove music, from the device, that hasn't been played in a while.

First introduced as a part of iCloud Photo Library, Optimized Storage lets you keep a portion of the library on the device (depending on the free storage space) and automatically dumps older items to make room for newer items as time goes on.

Go to Settings > Music, then look at the Downloads section and tap Optimize Storage.

Unlike the setting for iCloud Photo Library, you can control the minimum number of songs to keep downloaded on the device with four options:

  • 2 GB, around 400 songs
  • 4 GB, around 800 songs
  • 8 GB, around 1600 songs
  • 16 GB, around 3200 songs

Choose 8 or 16 GB if you’ve sufficient storage space for the music collection otherwise choose a lower option.

optimize-storage-ios-device
Choose the storage limit for your iOS device. if you have 64 or 128GB iPad the limits will be a lot higher

To check and manage the amount of storage the Music app is using, go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage and tap Music app

Tap Edit to delete the song, playlist, or album manually.

manage-storage-ios-device
Manage storage on your iOS device

On Android

If you’re using the Apple Music app on an Android phone, you can set a separate allowance for playback cache. 

Tap the hamburger menu and press Settings. Scroll down, and tap Playback Cache. Choose the cache size based on your needs and device storage.

  • 0 MB
  • 200MB
  • 500MB
  • 1GB
set-playback-cache-android-device
Set playback cache on an android device

To clear the cache, go to Settings, press App or Application Settings and choose the Apple Music app from the list of the installed apps. 

Tap Clear Cache button, wait for few minutes and check the storage space again.

clear-cache-android-device
Clear cache files on an android device

To remove offline music, go to My Music, tap Albums, Artists, or Songs, then turn on Only Downloaded Music.

view-downloaded-music-android
View only downloaded music on your android phone

Tap the More… icon to the right of the song, album, or playlist that you wish to remove.

Choose Remove Download to remove the item for offline listening. The item will remain in the library on all the devices. Choose Delete from My Music to remove the item completely from the library on all the devices.

remove-offline-music-android
Remove offline music in your android phone

As of 1st of February 2016, Apple Music supports microSD card. So if you have a device with microSD card support, Apple Music will let you change the download location from device storage to SDcard with a single tap. 

Those folders are not visible by default, and is DRM protected.

download-music-sdcard-android
If your android phone supports sdcard you can choose this location to move your music seamlessly

Get Lyrics for the Songs You Love

Before iOS 10, the only way you could see lyrics in the Music app on iOS device was to manually add the lyrics with iTunes. You had to Google the lyrics of the song with the risk of getting re-directed to websites riddled with obnoxious ads and often incorrect lyrics.

They’re also not integrated with the Music app.

With iOS 10, Apple Music integrates officially licensed lyrics in the listening experience. Even if lyrics aren’t available for a particular song, you can always try third party apps. There are two particular apps—Musixmatch Lyrics Finder app for iOS and Android, and Shazam for iOS. Shazam for Android doesn’t work with Apple Music.

Both Musixmatch and Shazam provide a real-time, music identification service. They constantly run in the background, and identify the song as quickly as possible.

Although you can view lyrics in Apple Music, these two apps give you a much better experience—you can enjoy the music with real-time synced lyrics and sing along if you want to, huge lyrics database, and the ability to share the lyrics with friends and family.

On a Mac

To view lyrics, play some music, and click the Up Next menu. There are three tabs: Up next, History, and Lyrics. If you find a song where Apple can provide lyrics; you’ll see the lyrics here in this tab.

view-lyrics-song-mac-itunes
View lyrics of the song in Apple Music

You can also view lyrics from the Miniplayer window (Shift-Command-M). Click the Up Next button and then click Lyrics.

view-lyrics-miniplayer-itunes
View lyrics in miniplayer window in iTunes

On iOS

While listening to the song, tap or swipe up on the player at the bottom of the screen to open the Now Playing screen. Scroll down slightly, and then tap on the Show button.

view-lyrics-ios-now-playing-screen
View lyrics on the iOS in Now playing screen

Or, tap More … icon, then tap Lyrics to see the lyrics in a full-screen popup.

view-full-screen-lyrics-ios
View full screen lyrics on your ios device

If you don’t find a lyrics for the particular song, install Musixmatch app and proceed to add its widget to the notification center. Add the widget to the top to make it available all the time.

When you start playing the song, the widget shows you playback controls and real-time synced lyrics along with an artwork preview of the album. You can skip a song from here, or tap Show Less to see line-by-line lyrics in real-time.

If you see a translation button, it means that a particular song is available in a different language. Tap to view the lyrics in Musixmatch app.

track-related-controls-musixmatch
Track related controls in musixmatch widget

You can listen to the song in the Musixmatch app as well. Double-tap anywhere to switch in-between extended view (full-screen lyrics) or compact view (line-by-line lyrics). 

At the bottom you’ll find playback controls, volume adjustment icon, and a love icon to add the song to favorites.

On Android

While listening to the song, you can easily view the lyrics of the song in the notification area of your device. Go to System Settings > Notifications > Notification access. If you’re running Android version 4.3, go to Settings > Accessibility > Services menu.

Toggle the Musixmatch app switch, to give the app access to the notification. Start playing any song in Apple Music, and within seconds it will identify the song.

musixmatch-notification-access-android
Toggle the musixmatch switch in the notification access of your android phone

If you decide to disable Notification access then start playing the song in Apple Music, launch Musixmatch app and tap Identify Lyrics. Let Musixmatch listen to what’s playing, it will then show the cover art and lyrics synced in real time.

identify-lyrics-in-musixmatch-app
Identify lyrics in musixmatch app 

Just as in iOS, double tap the screen anywhere to switch between line-by-line and full screen view of the lyrics. In the lyrics screen, tap the love icon to mark the song as favorite, and if you have an iOS device, then the favorites will get synced.

lyrics-screen-musixmatch-app
Lyrics screen anatomy of musixmatch app

Instead of viewing the lyrics in full-screen, you can view them in a floating widget which pops up as soon as you play a song. The pop-up window shows the lyrics of the song, and you can decrease or increase the dimensions of the window as you like.

To enable floating lyrics, launch Musixmatch app and tap Settings. Under FloatingLyrics section toggle:

  • Enable transparency—The floating widget will fade away as you keep playing the song, keeping the lyrics visible.
  • Smart minimize—When you toggle this switch, the lyrics widget will dock to the side so you can access it anytime.
  • Remember the last window state of the floating lyrics widget.
floating-widget-musixmatch-android
Floating widget in action

Share an Apple Music Membership

Apple Music has two membership options:

  1. Individual, and 
  2. Family membership

With a Family membership, families of up to six people can enjoy the benefits. If you’ve joined Apple Music as an Individual member, you can change it to a Family membership at any time and vice-versa.

For a family member, the Apple Music membership give them a lot of benefits. It allows each member to maintain their own iCloud Music Library with their Apple ID’s, to download any music bought by the organizer, and maintain their own library, playlists in any device they own.

To use a Family Membership, you must set up Family Sharing on your Mac and iOS device. To add more members, click Manage Family, then click + and follow the on-screen instructions. Send an invitation to their preferred email address. The member should accept the invite link, otherwise their status will not get accepted.

add-family-member-mac
Click plus to add family member 

Once you send the invitation, check their status under the person’s name. Go to System Preference > iCloud and click Manage Family. Choose the person’s name to see the status of the invitation, and whether they accepted it or not.

check-status-family-member-mac
Check the status of your family member in iCloud Preferences

On a Mac

Open iTunes. From the menu bar at the top of the iTunes window, choose Account > View My Account.

account-info-itunes
Click the account info i iTunes

On the Account screen, scroll to the Settings section and click Manage. If you’ve more than one subscription, click Edit to the right of your Apple Music Membership.

manage-subscription-itunes
Manage subscription of Apple Music in iTunes

Choose the Family Membership from this screen, and switch automatic renewal to On. Click Done to return to the My Account screen. 

The membership might renew if you don’t turn off Automatic Renewal more than 8 hours before the renewal date. When Automatic Renewal is off, paid Apple Music membership automatically stops at the end of the billing cycle.

choose-family-membership-itunes
Choose family membership from this screen

If you’re an Apple Music Individual Membership and want to convert it to a Family Membership, you must first turn off automatic renewal from the My Account screen, then ask the organizer to invite you to join the group.

If your children has an individual iTunes account and is using Apple Music for long time, then you can add them to your Family Membership. No data, playlists, or recommendations will get erased from their account.

On iOS

In the Music app, tap the For You tab. Tap the profile icon situated in the upper-right corner. Tap View Apple ID and sign-in to the account.

apple-id-ios-device
View Apple ID on your iOS device

Under Subscriptions, tap Manage. If you have more than one subscription, tap Apple Music Membership. Choose Family Membership, and toggle the Automatic Renewal switch. 

If you don’t see this option, your subscription will automatically stop at the end of the billing cycle.

choose-family-membership-ios-device
Change subscription on your iOS device

On Android

On the Android, you cannot directly join with Family Membership. At first turn off Automatic Renewal for the Individual Membership

Ask the organizer of the Family Membership to invite you to the group. Once you accept the invitation, open the Apple Music app and check to ensure that you’re the part of that group.

manage-apple-music-membership-android
Manage apple music membership on your android phone

Conclusion

As an Apple Music member, you can access million of songs for streaming and listen to dozens of curated ad-free radio stations. While listening to the music is highly subjective, your experience of using Apple Music app may vary. 

Some people may only like to listen radio, their curated playlists featured in For You and Library section, New releases, and some may choose to listen albums they bought from iTunes Store.

In this tutorial series, I’ve shown you different ways by which you can use Apple Music. While it's not necessary to use all the features and functions, you must make thorough use of personalisation and recommendations. 

Managing offline music is not easy. In this tutorial I have shown you how to manage offline music in your device.

With iOS 10 and an update to iTunes, Apple has thoroughly re-designed the interface to make it simpler to use, but it’s still not over. They're yet to update Music app for Android, fix minor issues in iOS or bring back missing features. If you’ve already joined Apple Music, consider learning one feature at a time.

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