Warning To DJs: Do Not Upgrade To iTunes 12.2!


iTunes 12.2 has full music streaming, radio, cloud music and more built in... but many users are reporting it corrupts their library, and worse. Don't upgrade yet, is our advice...

I am surprised at having to write this, but this is a warning to all DJs who use iTunes to manage their music libraries: Don't upgrade to iTunes 12.2 - or at least, do so with the greatest of care. It may well change your music files to DRM, change your track artwork, alter your tags, and more. (UPDATE: iTunes 12.2.1 fixes some issues).

What's the problem?

iTunes has slowly become more and more bloated, from a music file organisation system to basically get music onto your iPod (then iPhone etc), to a fully-fledged store with videos, podcasts, radio, and now streaming music, plus cloud facilities for sharing your tunes across devices. But as long as it was also the best music management system, us DJs have tolerated it (indeed, 75% of our readers use iTunes to organise their music, according to our annual poll), living with its foibles because of the stuff it had that no other music library software could match.

Related article: Is it time to ditch iTunes?

But with 12.2, Apple has shoehorned in a lot of features that many users are reporting are corrupting their music libraries, changing artwork and other metadata (see this MacWorld article and this TechnoBuffalo post, for instance). Worse, if users choose to sync their local collections to the cloud via iTunes and then re-download that music, it is - apparently - DRM protecting the music (meaning it has playback restrictions tied to user/device, similar to when you make music available offline in Spotify). Yes, that's your own music, that you bought, being restricted when you try and use it!

It appears to be an unholy mess. It may well be something that can be - as with previous versions of iTunes - "worked with", it may be teething problems, and it may not affect everyone - but that's clearly not good enough if you are one of the users experiencing these issues. So our advice today is: "Don't take the risk". If you have, then we advise turning off all sharing, cloud and "Share details about your library with Apple" options. (Many people may have their computers set to auto-update software, and so may have unwittingly got the new version before realising it.)

Is there any good news?

Yes, loads! We are broadly loving Apple Music. It's the way the majority of people will consume music in the future (streaming and on-demand), we love the curation features, and overall anything that gets more people listening to more music is a good thing in our mind. The fact that Apple Music is baked in to millions of mobile devices (aka every iDevice that updates to iOS 8.4) means nothing short of a final shot across the bows for mainstream music ownership, in our opinion (and probably a big hit for Spotify et al, too).


There's a lot to like here from the point of view of music discovery... but be extremely wary of the cloud functions, as early bugs seem to show there are big issues, at least for some users.

However, as DJs, we have to keep a divide between "our" music (the "sacred garden" of tunes that constitute the building blocks of what we do) and "the rest". Until now, iTunes has been the best tool to do that, especially with the woeful-to-average library management features built into most DJ software.

Certainly what hasn't changed is that iTunes has great "smart playlists", makes it easy to carry your library around on your mobile device, and is still the best place place to sort, store, preview and manage your music away from your DJ software (remember, it's baked into your DJ software, too, unlike any other music library management program).

Also, it may yet have some positives up its sleeve for DJS: imagine if you could make playlists available from Apple Music offline, then see them in your DJ software on the iTunes node? It's coming, mark my words. And it'll be big for DJs. So it isn't all bad!

What does all of this mean now, though?

Don't panic - just don't upgrade to 12.2 for now. If you do, have a safe backup of all your music elsewhere first, turn off all music sharing features if you are using 12.2 (many users are reporting that there are no issues when they do this), and proceed with care. Personally, we tried it on our test laptops and it's fine, but the risk is too great with these reports coming in to recommend that you do the same.

In the long term, one way or another, this will more than likely all be fixed and we can just carry on as we were - but we will just have to wait and see. Maybe Apple will see sense and break up iTunes, like it has with the iOS app, and maybe even have a separate Apple Music app for Mac and Windows, but we just don't know. Maybe a new strategy will eventually become necessary as iTunes becomes more a media/radio/cloud music portal, but we will just have to wait and see.

For now, please, share your experiences if you have upgraded with us in the comments below so we can work out how much these changes / bugs are going to affect DJs.

• Serato issue: It appears also that it is no longer possible to close or open iTunes Playlist Folders in Serato. All the playlists still appear with the tunes in the correct place, there’s just no longer a drop down option to shut or open a folder. Instead all the playlists appear in one, long, potentially unwieldy list. More when we have it...

Have you upgraded? Have you found issues with your music library, or has everything stayed as-is? Got any observations to share? Please do so in the comments below.

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  1. Kithaeron Music says:

    Not only, that 12.2 messes up your library, all DJ software forums from Traktor over Serato to rekordbox are reporting problems reading the iTunes XML file and syncing correctly!

  2. Spark972 says:

    Hope that the new RekordBuddy for Windows will be out soon.
    I recently switched to Itunes : it was working ok but nothing from outer space. I did this to have some sort of bridge between several dj softwares but this Itunes gate is certainty the end of the road for me.
    In fact this give me a great excuse for leaving them... Lol

  3. Massimo Latelli says:

    I've upgraded two days ago and yesterday while organizing my music for a gig i had an issue with rekordbox not displaying all my iTunes playlist. I still can't work it out how to fix it but i think it must be related with the libraries change you were pointing out.

  4. Bart's Place says:

    MediaMonkey Number One!!!!!!!

    • +1
      For PC MediaMonkey is the perfect tool.
      I have the Goldversion, so I can have multiple collection (my normal everyday music, my classic DJ collection, my current DJ collection, separated on different drives) , it has dynamic playlists with a lot of options to customize,
      I can easy move Tracks between different collections etc.
      Not missing iTunes at all.
      As far as I remember there is also a Addin to export your playlists in a iTunes-Xml file, that can be used in Traktor.

    • Spark972 says:

      Would you care to explain a bit more how to deal with MediaMonkey ?
      I'm looking for something that can manage my medias and playlists so I can use them into ANY djs application.
      It was possible with the itunes.xml file.
      Thank you.

  5. I can not believe there are DJ's who seriously look at ANY cloud service to play there music from, or even as a back-up.
    Apple just proved that, as always, you have to go there way, not caring about there users and they need to comply but always are left with all kinds of trouble.

    Did I mention I do not like fruits in my Booth?

    To me, storing my music in the cloud is and NEVER will be an option. My two DJ-ing laptops (not Apple) are my tools of my trade. They are a 100% copy. I Only connect them to the Internet for Updates of WIndows and Anti-virus (and Serato). There is no way I trust Open Internet connections, and do not want to be depending on a Internet connection witch might be very slow.
    I have Gigs all over the country and i'm a DJ jack of all trades I can not afford of some Cloud service to f*ck-up my Database of music, or not be availeble when I need it.

    I take Updates slow... so never both laptops updated at the same time... Updates have to prove them self.

    And really guy's... cover art? I find no use for it other than taking space on my display and space on my hard drive... so it cover art is deleted from my buy's and downloads when I Rename, Gain and Tag my music my way. Saves a ton of disk space when you have gigs and gigs of HQ music.

    How do I organise? Easy... Know your music... Listen to it all day long, reconice every artist, in any given piece of music.... Know your database.. .. Use the Search option (Ctrl F) and as last point... make it flat... no crates in crates in crates...

    In my humble opinion cloud services are not any good for any DJ who take they trade very serious.
    Not During Birthday parties, Not during Wedding Gigs, not during any party or festival at all.

    I think I made my point why DJ's should have there music localy stored on there laptop...

    • Agree with you re cloud backup where it's an "intelligent" service like iTunes Match etc, but a straight to-the-cloud backup can be very prudent.

      As far as artwork goes, many people are "visual" by nature, especially those who once owned the physical copies of their digital files, and there is a case for keeping artwork if it helps you.

      • Hi Phil,
        I'm a 50+ DJ worked with vinyl since the late 70ties... and Yes I loved those paper covers... I could find my tunes so easy... but I do not find cover art in DJ programs helpfull other then taking space...
        These days you have access to Tons of music under the flick of a switch....this makes it a totally different game..

        O by the way... being 50 + does not mean I always play golden oldies... I rave as hard (maybe even harder) then any youngster... mix House and techno like i invented it...(in a way i was present at it's birth)...and still stand up straight... even got my own teeth although the hair get less... So I like to think I know what I'm talking about...as do you..

        I gues there so many preffences as DJ's... but I like mine relyable...

        And back-up to the cloud? Every tried back-up 200 gig of data to a cloud service? It is way to slow...and way to expensive....
        My advice woiuld be Buy a good brand External USB drive every year a new one... Back-up to that device and you are golden...and it is dirt cheap..

        • Fibre is pretty fast where we are it's changed the game with backup services to be honest. I think be can agree that backing up is totally essential though (for me, ideally both locally AND remotely).

          • Fibre is as fast as your provider let you have it....200 MB (example) is not 200 up and down...
            I the city you might be right Phil but not in small villages..let alone you have to wait and see what kind of connection is availble (if any) at the venue...

            No, my game is soly arround local storage....copy of laptops, 1 on 1 back-up / the same... and a Database back -up on USB drives... No cloud, no Google, No iTunes, no one drive.. no mega upload, just my responcebility..I fi do something wrong... i-am to blame... If cloud services do somethng wrong they make it your problem.

            How many help did you get from Apple to solv this? I bed not much... I think you find more to the point answers here and anywhere on the web.
            The arrogance of Apple and any cloud service for that mather is idiotic. They are the new religion as far as they are concerned... gues what... there just after big money... Big Data (yes even your Music database) is Big Money for them.

            And when they screw up they don't give in. Try screwing up (not ply music) on your next Gig.... it is not exeptable, you don't get paid, but cloud services get away with it...
            Can't believe we are all falling for this scam.. a specialy when you need things to work flawless being a DJ.

          • Just on the subject of cloud though, it is possible to buy, for instance, Amazon could space that you do what you want with, a world apart from consumer music services in the cloud. As long as you know what you're doing, backing up to such services is as safe as Amazon still continuing to exist. This website, its courses, and all video/audio assets are on Amazon Cloud, for instance.

          • So I see Phil.... At the cost of a Tera USB Disk...And because they force you to use there software they have the same touch of arrogance as any cloud provider.

            By the way... You may not use it commercialy....so it states here.http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=201376540&ref_=cd_tou_fp&ref_=cd_pricing_tou
            I my book DJ-ing is a commercial trade.... at least I get paid money enjoying myself DJ-ing..

            But hey... Everybody is free to do as he or she pleases.
            My data is secure (of premmisses) but not with a Storage provider.... and they will not get it either.... I am more flexible whitout them. (yes i'm arrogant aswel right now :-) )

            And now back to the subject at hand...

        • Spark972 says:

          There are already some free/open alternatives to make your own cloud with your own hardware hosted where you choose to if you don't want to feed those big guys. 😉

    • Nickolas says:

      Or you could put everything on USB and use the clubs gear? They have 128 gig USB Sticks now. And it's cheaper then a serato/Traktor set up which half the time your going to cut out the channels of the DJ spinning before you setting up your A/O box just because you can't handle crowd interaction or you think you have something to prove.

      I mean keep it as a back up but your first choice should always be the one that streamlines flawlessly, cause if packing up your gear kills the headliners sound that club dropped a few K on, you can kiss your rep goodbye.

    • Kenny Schachat says:

      I have a lot in common with A.D.: 50+, DJing for over 25 years and easily keeping up with the younger set both behind the decks and in front of them. IAC, I do very thorough music backups to local media AND the cloud. I'm using Google Drive ($2/month for 100 GB or $10/month for 1 TB) for the simple reason that I want insurance in case of theft or a local storage disaster (ex. fire, meteor strike, etc.). BTW, I'm using any kind of syncing with the cloud. It's more or less manual copying - extra work but I have complete control.

      Having my music library available anywhere that there's an internet connection also means that I have hope in a worse case scenario: I'm on the road for a gig and all of my gear and belongings were lost or stolen. I could borrow a laptop, download and install my DJ software from the vendors web site and grab my music from the could. Gig SAVED!

      RE: iTunes: this story has me thinking that it could be time to check out some alternatives (I'm on Windows). Any suggestions (must have smart playlists) besides Media Monkey? One criteria would be a vendor that looks like they're in it for the long haul...

  6. Mathias Schmidt says:

    The problem is the sync with the iCloud. If you lose your libary and you have agreed to sync with iCloud, apple iplements the DRM protection. In my opinion it is logically. On my iMac and Mac Book I disabled all sync with the iCloud and I have no problems, yet.

    I read it also in the german article from golem.de: http://www.golem.de/news/apple-music-icloud-verpasst-der-eigenen-musik-einen-kopierschutz-1507-115016.html

  7. Has anyone tried Beatport Pro for Mac for organizing music? Been meaning to give that a go, might be a good substitute if you wanted to upgrade iTunes for Apple Music.

  8. Sean Butterworth says:
  9. Pascal Guerrilla Stoemp says:

    I lost all my previous paylists....

  10. Andrew Taylor says:

    Is it the sharing tab in the Itunes preferences that needs to be turned off?

  11. Christopher Johnson says:

    Thanks for this info. I always wait a month or more before upgrading just to see if things like this happen. I still don't have the newest Traktor.

  12. Ronni Berlau says:
  13. Phill Wrote:
    This is more your DJ software’s READING of the library XML, rather than the library itself… it;s something that will be relatively simple for DJ software companies to fix though, but definitely another reason to hold off upgrading.

    Just got back from my buddy .... He was having the iTunes problems... Fixed it with the help offerd here..and got him to organise and manage his DB into proper fast access Back-up

    Yes Phil The XML Apple produces is not up to the same proffesional standard used by other DJ software..
    The big ticket question is..... Who is going to give in... The fruity boyzz building a proper XML .... Or many others software firms Who do read proper formatted XML files....

    Let the battle commence.. :-)

  14. Scott Saint says:

    check out this great article http://www.imore.com/no-apple-not-adding-drm-songs-your-mac-you-already-own

    the problem lies with iTunes Match - i've had no issues upgrading as i used Match previously. If you haven't used Match, watch out

    • Jon Levinson says:

      Read that same article earlier today, but the issue with DRM appears to stem from iCloud Music, not iTunes Match.

      • Scott Saint says:

        Hey Jon - my understanding is 'iCloud Music' is the b*stard child of iTunes Match - if you choose 'iCloud Music' you are really getting an LE version of Match rebranded - there's no way Apple reinvented the Match algorithm for iCloud Music; i suspect they had licensing issue and had to guarentee some sort of chinese wall between your local matched library and Apple Music.

        After a few days with Apple Music - all my tunes are ok in terms of DRM and tagging, however the 'cloud' songs are mixed in with my local library which i hate. I much prefer Spotify so far - this 3 months trial should have been called what it is.... a 3 month beta test

  15. Chris Blake says:

    Thanks for the heads up Phil. I managed to downgrade luckily after realizing my iTunes libraries which are on an external drive could not be read at all. You will need a previous .itl (iTunes Library) file, luckily it made a backup for me a few days ago when I upgraded. Backups are in the "Previous iTunes Libraries" folder in your iTunes folder.

    I followed these steps:

    Backup everything first (apps and .itl library files)

    Get the previous version of iTunes (copied it from my work laptop... Apple lets you download earlier versions but not the last one 12.1.2 on Mac)

    Get AppZapper (it's free for trial, you have to allow deleting of Apple software in the prefs)

    Drag iTunes 12.2 onto AppZapper and it gets rid of it with associated preference files

    Now replace the current .itl file with the older one from before the upgrade.

    All you need to do after that is put the old iTunes app in Applications and re-import a few days (hopefully) of music, which is easy if you sort your iTunes music folder in Finder by Date Modified

  16. Alexandar Castaneda says:

    Any alternatives for iTunes for mac users that can integrate with traktor or rekordbox?

    • Beatport Pro gets half way there, although of course you're jumping from one big company to another, but it's the only other program that attempts to get its playlists shown in your DJ software.

      • Bob Jenkis says:

        What's the consensus among users of Beatport Pro at the moment … do people like what it does and how it does it?

        • Don Muzikk says:

          Personally, I love the application Beatport Pro for Mac, but so far I'm just using it to fill in metatags on my music files. I typically download WAV, convert to AIFF using XLD format converter (freeware), then tag the AIFF files using Beatport Pro for Mac. It fills in all available tags on a track, including album cover art, with one click of the "sync" button. Note that these tags are written directly to the AIFF file and will therefore carry over to whatever other software or equipment can read them. I'm pretty sure that the metatag fields can be overridden in Beatport Pro for Mac too, in case one prefers to tag a track genre "House" instead of "Electronica," for example. Just type over the pre-filled metatag with the desired information.

          I had just begrudgingly started to gain trust in iTunes to organize my DJ music library, create playlists, etc. when version 12.2 ate everyone's library for lunch though! I haven't yet tried Beatport Pro for Mac to do this, although I read somewhere that Native Instruments and Beatport are invested in each other, so it might come over time if this capability isn't already present?

  17. Jeremy Ryan says:

    +1 for MediaMonkey.

  18. Don Muzikk says:

    My iTunes has already upgraded to 12.2 during a recent software update. I've unticked everything I can find in Preferences about sharing, but didn't see anything specifically about iCloud sharing. Is that a setting outside of the app, something that's changed in Mac OS Settings, for example?

  19. Don Muzikk says:

    I read that in an article linked above as well, but there's no such option in 12.2.

    Preferences > General > Show Apple Music (untick)

    That seemed to do the trick, as a "warning" box appeared stating that I would no longer be sharing my music with iCloud (fine with me)!

    • Jon Levinson says:

      Weird... on my 12.2 install it shows iCloud Music Library immediately underneath Show Apple Music. I bet because I've had an iTunes Match subscription for 18+ months the options differ. They probably enabled it by default to enable Apple Music subscriptions. I now notice the old options to enable iTunes Match are no longer under the Account menu bar.

  20. Don Muzikk says:

    That's likely it, as I've never done much with iCloud except back up my phone. Then when my storage became too full, I turned that off as well rather than paying for more storage. I do backup my iPhone from the desktop whenever syncing new music though.

  21. Jon Levinson says:

    I've been using Match to have my library in the cloud for the iPhone and iPad - and replace low quality, VBR MP3s I purchased from an eMusic subscription. Has worked well for me. The sorry thing is - I read this 'Warning' article this morning and *knew* I had pending updates on my Mac and neglected to disable them :-( My bad. So I'm on 12.2 as a result. Sigh.

  22. Looks like a business opportunity for some software developers to me.

    The problem is Apple like most big companies want to be seen as making progress. However putting in controls over people music and what they can do with it is going too far. First they put U2's album on every device and you cannot delete it. Then they start pushing update for Iwatch software. Which again you cannot remove. Taking up precious space on device which only have limited space. They are making choices on our behalf and force feeding us their products.
    I hope enough people power pressure is put in them to stop doing this. Although I doubt most consumers will care until it is too late.

    Most of the music related software features are probably dictated by lawyers as a way of protecting apple from the music majors. As they have seen the pressure that sound cloud is under for copyright infringement. The biggest way to lose money is in the court room.

    Do we now have a bad apple that we have all taken a bite out of and now finding it rotten at the core?

    • I don't see how the fruity boyzz can ever deliver a realy user/DJ friendly service if they keep pushing there poor software constructions.
      Many have taken a bite of that Apple, and hated it. It just does not cut it the way "Jack of all trade DJ's" need to have thing working for them... And lets be honest... 95% of the DJ population are "jack of all trades DJ's.

      I think for most DJs it is time to reconcider the use of a crappy service. cancel subscriptions, put in the work of collecting music and start DJ-ing the ofline way...

      And girls and boys... do not forget the create back-ups and do not store these @home.

      To all fruitlovers... Good luck... hope it works out for you in the end.... but I have my reservation (to put it mildly)

  23. Spark972 says:

    Ok, so I tried MediaMonkey with the export itunes xml script and it is a huge fail...

    - MM doesn't manage folders of playlists so you need to put a playlist into a playlist
    - the resulting xml can not be read by Rekordbox
    - the xml can be read with Traktor but all the playlists are flatten
    - the same goes for Serato, after you have moved the xml to the original iTunes location
    - the smart playlist (called autoplaylist into MM) are converted to simple playlist into the xml

    Just spent 3 hours to test this, so for now if you want a bridge between several DJs softwares on your PC you're still alone in the dark.
    RekordBuddy where are you ? I have big hopes into this one...

  24. Michael Lim says:

    Just some addition that Apple Support said to me when I contacted them to avoid confusion.

    "I can appreciate this concern, and happy to help in any way I can with this question. As best I know, iTunes Plus audio purchases are still DRM-free. DRM when it comes to Apple Music is another matter. iTunes Match is a DRM-free service. That is one distinction between those two services. Nothing has change with regard to purchases there, no. Else, our article here: About iTunes Plus - Apple Support would have been updated."

  25. Dj G Cue says:

    Is this only for the people that have ITunes synced to their dj software? I have my music separated from ITunes. should I be worried?
    Thank you in advance.

  26. George Ford says:

    There are more problems with the last Updates on Security,EFI... got lots of bugs ! the System got more problems..now ! SMC FAN CONTROL show's the Temp on my CPU Wrong.. Thank's Apple you did it again !!

  27. Mike Branch says:

    Macs and PCs have become conduits for companies to sell their crap to the masses. They're no longer tools for us to use however we want. I feel like I'm back in the 80's plugging memory chips into my IBM PC...

  28. I have on several occasions had some of my files convert from mp3, wma... to iTunes. I hate it. I understand the whole concept of having proprietary software to protect what you buy from iTunes store, and if I CHOOSE to convert all my files, but keep your software away from my hard drives!!! I know it's a strong word, but I hate Apple and other companies who attempt to force me to use their products exclusively. Let me use my DJ software or other application to manage my own music. DJs out there, beware. Apple is trying to take over your library, whether it came from their store or not!

    • Benfleet says:

      Too true. The re-tagging issue has cropped up before, for that reason, I won't let itunes near my ripped music folder but it seems it's trying to find it now. Stupidly when setting up home streaming I added my network drive to a Windows 8.1 library folder as a work around as Windows won't file index network drives, it seems through that route itunes found that library and started re-tagging that drive, fortunately my final DJ library is separate (I'm, that paranoid about it). It really does seem that Apple is trying to take over the whole library, for example you used to be able to move the itunes folder quite easily, now the recommended step states that you have to tick the 'keep itunes folder organized', this is the setting that gives itunes the go ahead to retag etc. Worryingly itunes updated started retagging without that box being ticked. Yep itunes definitely wants control, I still need it to source some music, I'm just going to have make sure my other folders are well hidden.

  29. Clarissa Cross says:

    I did the update and my library is completely messed up. I have my music on an external hard drive. I have 2 copies of each song but neither of them work. How do I fix it? Can I uninstall? This sucks

  30. Victor Indus says:

    pheeew, i made the update and didnt know about this, but thx god it all seems okay... any reports about messed up grids/cue points? the only thing i havent checked by now...

    phil, is there a guide where to find the features one needs to disable to be safe? not sure if i got it all right.


  31. Natassia Caffery says:

    Yep. My iPod no longer shows up on iTunes. Have trawled forums but it seems there's nothing I can do but buy a new one. Does anyone know where I can find a list of devices that are compatible with the latest version of iTunes?

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