Hey, iTunes! Where are all of MY tunes?!?!?

iTunes panic

OK, I’m trying to suppress the panic here…

I was already pretty ticked off because the only tunes that showed up on my Apple TV were ones that I had “purchased” (either for money or by redeeming a free song from Starbucks or something) from iTunes.

Whereas, most of the music that was in iTunes on my PC laptop and my iPhone and my iPad were songs I owned before iTunes was invented — things I bought long, long ago, either on CD or vinyl (I have a turntable at home that hooks up to a computer and converts vinyl to MP3s). Stuff I had every right to. I liked that this music was in iTunes because it meant it wasn’t subject to the ravages of time and rough use as they affect vinyl and CDs — and they were available to me on multiple platforms, wherever I went.

The number of songs I had “purchased” from iTunes were insignificant. I mean, unless someone has given me an iTunes gift card, why would I spend money on something I could hear on Pandora or Spotify for free? (Especially, especially, especially if I had already paid for it once, twice or three times in my lifetime?)

Anyway, this state of affairs got worse when I got a new iPhone a month or so ago. Everything transferred over from my old iPhone just fine. But recently I noticed that all of MY music (the music I owned before iTunes, from vinyl and CD) was missing.

So today, when I connected the iPhone to my PC in order to transfer some photos, and iTunes automatically launched, I thought, “I’ll try to fix this.”

I did this by clicking on “Brad’s iPhone” in iTunes, scrolling down to options, and clicking off the button that said “Sync only checked songs and videos.” And then I clicked “Apply.”

I got a dialogue box that I can’t seem to get back again now, but I think it said something like “Do you want to erase the iTunes profile on your phone and replace it with the one on your computer?” I said “yes,” because that’s what I wanted to do. And I ran it.

And now, I still don’t have any of MY tunes on iTunes, and a bunch of them (but strangely, not all) have disappeared from my laptop as well! For instance, all of the Beatles albums — just gone!

They’re all still on my iPad. So now I’m scared to connect the iPad to the PC, lest I lose them. (And yeah, I suppose I still have copies of these things somewhere, in some form, but getting them onto iTunes represented a lot of time and effort.)

Any minute now, I’ll start freaking out.

Anyone have any advice?

18 thoughts on “Hey, iTunes! Where are all of MY tunes?!?!?

  1. Patrick


    Check to see if you have auto-sync turned on. Definitely don’t want iTunes to automatically replace music only with your purchases.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    I have all of my music (from forever) stored on my iMac desktop. I synced it with my Apple TV about a month ago, and it synced everything straight away. It was the “home sharing” setting, if I remember correctly. Maybe try that.

    But you’re backing everything up in case something catastrophic happens, right?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I did that — turned on “Home Sharing.” But I still just get the purchased music…

      I THINK I have it all backed up, here and there. But in some cases I might just have it on old scratchy vinyl, since I’ve gone through multiple computers in the years since I started saving things digitally. And I’m worried that, what with discs being shared freely in the family and not everyone in the family being what you’d call obsessive about protecting CDs when they’re in their cars, I’m not sure all of the CDs the music came from are still in playable condition…

      Before iTunes, I was a lot more careful about backing up. But I figured, Hey, iTunes isn’t going anywhere… But I reckoned without Apple’s rapacious interest in only serving me with regard to content I buy from THEM. And most of what I have from them is just junk — songs I downloaded for free and didn’t like but just left there…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        One silver lining in this… not ALL of my music was on iTunes. Just the CDs and albums I had now and then put on there. A lot of my CDs, and most of my vinyl, was never put on there to start with…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Of course, after 40 years and more (even 50 years, in some cases) of my rather careless handling and storage (I’m not one who believes in being a slave to inanimate objects, cosseting and caressing them), a lot of my vinyl is in pretty sorry condition…

          1. Norm Ivey

            When all this digital music stuff started, I downloaded a piece of software, connected an old turntable to the sound input on my computer, and started recording. Didn’t do much of it, but I still have a few songs that I haven’t found elsewhere that still have that satisfying pop and click of vinyl. (Motorcycle Mama, Chevy Van)

  3. Norm Ivey

    And this is just one more reason I don’t use iTunes. I use variously Google Play, Rhapsody, and Media Player to manage my music collection. Never has any one of those assumed I wanted to erase something else without my permission.

    My bride checks out audiobooks from Richland Library™ and has to transfer them to her iPod using iTunes. She almost always has some sort of issue that arises because of updates, differing interfaces on different devices, and whatever.

    Technology should make your life easier and pleasurable.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Also, I noticed the other day that those of you lucky enough to live in Richland County can download any of millions of songs for free from the library — and keep them…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      And Norm, I agree that “Technology should make your life easier and pleasurable.” And Apple makes some wonderful devices that I value. But the content-selling side of the company wants you to bow down before it and do its bidding…

      1. Doug Ross

        That’s why I go for Amazon Prime… All my music is in the cloud… accessible without any syncing on any device.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yeah… you know, I bought iCloud, and even paid more to enlarge the capacity. But I don’t seem to be able to access the stuff that is allegedly stored there. If I try to find out where my stuff is, instead of hard information I find vague, inconclusive chats under headings such as “Where EXACTLY are my photos in icloud?

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            In fact, as near as I can tell, I have NOTHING stored in iCloud. Nothing I can find and gain access to, anyway. And yet supposedly, I’m using 15 gigs of space…

  4. Wally Benson

    Thanks for the library plug- our Freegal service is very popular and has recently increased your available downloads to 6 per week and added streaming.

    Re: your iPhone, next time you plug it into the computer click on the iPhone button in iTunes. Down towards the bottom will be a button: [Restore from Backup]. There should be a backup from your previous phone either on your computer or in iCloud. Select one from a date when you had all your music and restore it.

    Hope this helps.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Wally, I’ve got a couple of questions about that. Could you email me your phone number at brad@bradwarthen.com? I’d appreciate it if you had a moment to talk me through that.

      Your instructions sound simple enough, but what I’m finding is not exactly what you’re describing…

      1. Norm Ivey

        Your instructions sound simple enough, but what I’m finding is not exactly what you’re describing…

        And there you go…

  5. scout

    One time I updated ITunes and all my music disappeared and I freaked. Then I handed my computer to my brother in law who is an apple guy and he fixed it. I don’t know how. I am not an apple person. Since then I cringe when ITunes tells me it has a new version, which seems like every 5 minutes. I’m probably a few versions behind because sometimes I just decide to not do it.

    I only have a really old Ipod. My phone is android. I have an Ipad for work but I don’t sync it on my home computer – its account is separate for school (and I also don’t understand what is in my Icloud). So I don’t know how syncing all those things could affect ITunes since I only sync my old Ipod.

    But here is something I would check. Find the folder on your computer called ITunes. On my computer, it’s in the “Music” folder which you can see if you hit the start button (this is windows 7, I think) but I think the ITunes folder can live other places. Hopefully, you will find it. Inside the ITunes folder there should be a folder called “ITunes Music” and inside that folder should be folders for all the music you’ve ever either bought or ripped yourself – organized by artist name. Inside those artist folders should be album folders and then the raw music files – either mp3s or aacs – however you have it set. HOPEFULLY – those files are all still there on your computer, in which case its just some kind of indexing problem where ITunes is not looking at the right index file and linking to the music.

    If your raw music files are not in that folder, I might consider freaking out. Hopefully they are, but I still don’t know how to make ITunes see them again. I would probably google it or call my brother-in-law. Want his number?

    Maybe you have fixed it by now :/

Comments are closed.