Music app using tons of data on your iPhone or iPad? Here's how you can stop it!

Music app using tons of data on your iPhone or iPad? Here's how you can stop it!

The Music app that comes built into every iPhone and iPad is responsible not only for storing your music collection from iTunes, it also houses iTunes Match and lets you access iTunes Radio, both of which can eat tremendous amounts of data. And that's not counting any iTunes in the Cloud purchases you may make. If you aren't careful, the Music app can quickly eat through your carrier's data allowance. If this is an issue you've been running into, here are some ways you can curb how much data the Music app consumes!

1. Disable the Music app from using cellular data

The quickest and easiest way to keep the Music app for eating through your data plan is to restrict its access to only Wi-Fi. Doing this, you'll still be able to listen to any content that is physically stored on your iPhone or iPad. You just won't have access to anything that relies on data such as iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud purchases, and iTunes Radio.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Cellular.
  3. Scroll down and under the Use Cellular Data For section, find Music and turn the setting to Off — the list should be in alphabetical order.

That's it. The Music app should no longer consume any cellular data.

2. Sync music you listen to often instead of streaming it

If you don't want to go nuclear but would still like to conserve some cellular data, syncing music you listen to often instead of relying on iTunes Match, is a great way to do just that. Simply sync over your favorite playlists, artists, and albums from your iTunes library on your computer. Or download them while on Wi-Fi with iTunes in the Cloud. This will minimize the amount of data your iPhone or iPad pulls. Then when you want to access music in iTunes Match, you're only doing so for things you don't listen to quite as often.

3. Only download music from iTunes in the Cloud over Wi-Fi

If you purchase a lot of music from iTunes, you may notice that you can download and delete it on demand. If you have fast data speeds, this makes it extremely convenient to download music and then delete it to save storage on your iPhone or iPad.

I know many people that do this on a regular basis. Just keep in mind that each time you download an album over cellular, it most likely consumes several megabytes of data at a time. So if at all possible, avoid downloading music when you're on cellular and opt for Wi-Fi instead.

4. Limit how often you use iTunes Radio

Like any other streaming music service, iTunes Radio uses a data connection in order to serve up radio stations on your iPhone or iPad. If you use the service frequently, this is most likely the reason you're using so much data within the Music app. Just like iTunes in the Cloud purchases, limiting iTunes Radio usage unless you're on Wi-Fi is a huge way to mitigate how much data the Music app eats.

5. Disable automatic downloads for music

If you purchase music on your computer via iTunes or through another device regularly, your iPhone or iPad may be downloading it over cellular without you knowing it. Luckily, there's a super easy way to prevent this behavior from happening by disabling music from downloading automatically. Or if you don't want to completely disable automatic downloads, just disable the option to use cellular data for all automatic downloads. You may find you save even more data.

Other tips for keeping data usage in the Music app under control?

If you've had the Music app eat large amounts of data on your iPhone or iPad, what was actually causing the issue? Was it something different than listed above? If so, be sure to let us know what and how you resolved the problem in the comments!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Music app using tons of data on your iPhone or iPad? Here's how you can stop it!

10 Comments

I never store any music on my phone, I stream everything from Spotify, Pandora, and especially iTunes Match and iTunes Radio and I've never used over 1GB of data. Granted, I have T-Mobile and they no longer use data to stream music, but even before that I never used over 1GB. Am I the only one who doesn't think that a lot? That seems pretty reasonable to me.

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I had this issue a year ago. I use AT&T and had to institute the actions that Allyson suggests. As the iPhone 6 approaches as well as in consideration of aftermarket versions of CarPlay, I'm considering changing my carrier to TMobile or Sprint to keep from breaking the bank on my mobile bill. Can anyone advise on either TMobile or Sprint and data usage? Thanks.

I'm sure this article will help someone, but to me this is all "duh". I just wish that I could get iOS to stop dunning me that cellular data is turned off for %APPNAME% every time I launch whatever that app is. It does that on some apps even when on an active WiFi connection.

iTunes Match? Nothing that using auto-updating smart playlists and syncing periodically cannot do instead with no data usage outside of your home USB cable or WiFi LAN.

I hate being reminded too. I launch a magazine and I get reminded that cellular data is turned off for that app. Well duh.

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I Stream Everything. (iTunes Radio and Music Match). Automatic Downloads for Music is off Anyway. I am Mostly Home where i have WiFi and when i Travel I Just listen to Tunein Radio most of the time which does not take up too much Bandwidth.
Most of my Podcasts & Radio Stations that i listen to are Bookmarked in Tunein Radio so i am real happy Streaming Plus i am on T-Mobile.

I don't use itunes match, i never use itunes radio, i've even moved it off the front screen, i have no icloud/match music so does my iphone use any cellular data at all? It shouldn't.

My solution came to me unsolicited. I happen to be on T-Mobile's Simple Choice plan which a few weeks ago made streaming music through iTunes Radio, Pandora, Spotify, etc. free! i.e. the bits aren't counted against your subscription quota.

No I'm not a TMo employee or stockholder, just a big fan of a well-run company.

Sigh.... Limited data probs. I keep about 7GB of music on my phone and use Slacker to cache several stations when I need something different. I also have to download my podcasts. I just don't have a wifi networks to use unless I'm at home.