Can't get Family Sharing in Apple Music to work? Here's the fix!

How to manage your Apple Music subscription
How to manage your Apple Music subscription (Image credit: iMore)

Next to iTunes Match, Apple Music's Family plan seems to be the big point of confusion surrounding Apple Music. How do you set it up? What log ins do you need? What do families share?

Here's what you need to know about setting up and troubleshooting your Apple Music Family plan.

Of course, you'll also want to make sure that Family Sharing is set up.

How to set up and use Family Sharing on iPhone and iPad

How Apple Music and Family Sharing works

Apple Music's family plan is hooked into iOS and macOS's Family Sharing feature, which lets different Apple IDs share calendars, photos, movies, TV, and music. Previous to Family Sharing, families had to use one Apple ID for all their purchases—a pain on a number of levels.

When you sign up for an Apple Music Family plan, which supports simultaneous listening for up to six devices or accounts, all the infrastructure is being taken care of by Family Sharing. In theory, getting your family on board is as simple as signing up for Family Sharing, purchasing a Family subscription, and having your other family members log in.

Unfortunately, a few awkward steps in Apple Music's and Family Sharing's infrastructure have kept this process from working as smoothly as it should.

How to sign up for Apple Music's family plan

If you don't run into any strange bugs, here's how you should be able to sign up for Apple Music.

Note: If your family members have already signed up for an Apple Music free trial, this won't work; you'll have to wait until after their free trial period is over to sign them up as part of your Family plan.

  1. Open the Music app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap For You.
  3. Tap the Account icon in the upper right corner.

  1. Tap Upgrade to Family Plan.
  2. Tap Upgrade.
  3. Confirm your purchase of a Family Plan upgrade.

Tap Upgrade to Family Plan, tap Upgrade, confirm purchase
  1. On your family member's device, open Settings.
  2. Tap Music.
  3. Tap Join Apple Music.

  1. Log into that family member's Apple ID. Do not log in using the Apple ID of the head of the household in your Family Sharing group.
  2. Tap Start Using Apple Music.

If those steps don't work

The above process eventually worked for me, but it took a few tries. Here are some troubleshooting tips I've found work well, as well as helpful hints from others in the community.

1. Make sure Apple Music, iCloud, and iTunes on the family member's device are all using the same account.

These first two troubleshooting steps may help fix your issues signing up. Essentially, Family Sharing expects other family members' devices to be logged in to their own iCloud ID. So if you're the head of the household (ex., your family member's iPhone or iPad needs to be logged into their account (ex., not yours.

While some people may share iTunes IDs for Match and purchased content, to get the Apple Music signup to work, it's important that every account on the family member's device be linked to that family member's account. You can't have a different Apple ID for iTunes and Apple Music on the same device.

2. Log out of Apple Music and iTunes and back in

If you or a family member have trouble with Apple Music or iTunes on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, try signing out of your accounts on your devices, then signing back in, or turning off iCloud Music Library and turning it back on.

How to troubleshoot iCloud Music Library, Apple Music, and iTunes Match problems

3. Remove everyone from your Family and re-add them.

If absolutely nothing else has worked, this is a last-ditch effort that has helped several people online—but one that comes at some risk. You can only join another family group once a year, so leaving and recreating your family can be tricky. And if you have children's accounts, they can't be removed at all—only moved to a different family group—so you have to create an entirely new Family Sharing account in that case.

All that said, here's the deal: You can disband your family by either deleting the family group or removing everyone from your family and then re-adding them. Sometimes this will do the trick where no amount of logging in and out will work, though I haven't personally tested this—success stories are solely from internet troubleshooting forums and folks on Twitter.

4. Chat with Apple Music Support.

If absolutely nothing else is working, talk to Apple (opens in new tab). They can help walk you through your problems and go from there.

Apple Music and Family Sharing FAQs

Still have a question about Apple Music and family sharing? We rounded up some of the most popular ones.

Does everyone get a separate account for their tastes, likes, dislikes, and playlists?

Yep! No one's music mixes and everyone has their own separate iCloud Music Library, tied to their Apple ID. You can share playlists by clicking the Share button on a playlist and sending your family member the link, but otherwise, your music is separate.

Do my family members automatically get my iCloud Music Library, iTunes Match library, or my purchased content in their library?

As mentioned above, nope. Both the iCloud Music Library and iTunes Match are linked to an Apple ID, so your family members can't get access to your content. You can, however, download purchased content from iTunes's Purchased screen.

Can more than one person use the same account simultaneously if they pay for an Apple Music Family plan?

Yep, though I'd recommend against it. When two people use the same account, you're going to mix your recommendations with the other person's. If you don't care about that and have a Family plan, you will be able to stream simultaneously on multiple devices (up to six) logged in to the same account.

How do I share music with my family?

There are a couple of different ways: sharing purchased content on iTunes, sharing playlists, and Home Sharing.

By default, all members of your Family Sharing family get access to each other's purchased content. You or any member can access this at any time by going to iTunes's purchased screen.

You can share a playlist of any music in your iCloud Music Library by tapping the Share button when viewing a playlist, then sending the link to your family member.

And while Home Sharing no longer works on iOS, you can use it on your Macs to share files between your two computers.

I accidentally signed up a family member for the free trial! Help!

Don't panic! I did the same thing. Just make sure to turn off Apple Music's automatic subscription, then set yourself a reminder to add them to your family plan when the free trial runs out. Unfortunately, you can't cancel the free trial.

How do I remove a family member from my Apple Music Family account?

Either log them out of Apple Music on their device, remove them from your Family Sharing account, or change your Apple Music subscription from an individual account to a family plan.

Other questions or troubleshooting tips?

Got a way to troubleshoot the Apple Music Family plan we didn't mention? Having problems? Let us know down in the comments.

Update August 2019: Updated for iOS 12.4 and the iOS 13 beta.

Serenity Caldwell contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.