Tips and Tricks: Resetting your Apple Music Listening Preferences

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I signed up for Apple Music as soon as it was available to try it out, so I know it pretty well at this point. You would think it knows me by now, but more on that in a moment. I had been using Google Play All-Access before that at a discounted monthly rate, but never was super-impressed with the iOS app or the service’s features. It was a very bare-bones music streaming service at the time, and with my kids getting more interested in listening to music, the ability to add parental controls became a priority.

While Apple Music itself was fine outside of a confusing interface that first year, we did experience one irritating problem. We had set up Apple’s iCloud Family Sharing when it became available in iOS 8, but there were some issues and bugs with it over the course of the first year or so. One of these affected Apple Music Family Plans when the service was released. We tried to set up our kids’ devices to use Apple Music independently with Family Sharing a couple of times within the first few months, with no success. Their iPhones and iPods would not recognize that they should have access to Apple Music when signed on on their iCloud accounts.

Some time later, my oldest son successfully separated his Apple account from mine successfully, but the rest of my family was still signed in under my account. You have to use a Family Plan to play music with multiple devices, but we weren’t taking full advantage of Apple Music’s features using it this way. I honestly didn’t care too much at the time, as I never really bothered with the recommendations or “For You” sections. No one else in my family complained, either, so I just left things the way they were.

However, my outlook on this changed when I got the HomePod. It’s no problem asking for specific things or using AirPlay to get what I want, but when you have a native device interface that is completely voice-based, things work a lot better if the device is working off an account that is centered on your preferences, rather than the listening tastes of three very different people. I love my two younger kids more than life itself, but we do NOT share the same listening tastes. Not even close.

To get things back on track, I went ahead and switched everyone in the house to use Family Sharing under their own iCloud accounts. Everything worked just as it is supposed to this time around. With that out of the way, I then reset the listening preferences on my Apple Music account to get things centered around my personal listening tastes again.

It was actually very easy. Just open up Apple Music to the For You tab, and then look for your account icon in the top right corner.

Tap the icon to get into your Account’s content page.

Scroll to the bottom and tap View Account to get to your Settings.

First off, you will want to Select Choose Artists for You. This will take you to a screen you may remember. It’s the one shown at the top of this article with all the Genre and Artist “bubbles” that you use to indicate your preferences.

The instructions are pretty simple. Tap a bubble for a Genre that you like. Tap it again if you love it. You can press and hold to get rid of any that you don’t like. When you are done, tap Next to move to the Artist selection.

This screen works the same. Tap an artist’s bubble once if you like, twice if you love, or press and hold if you don’t like them to make them disappear. When you are done, if you would like to keep going, you can select More Artists to get new groups of bubbles to sort through, based on your Genre selections. You can also save time by tapping Add an Artist. Once added, these will show up as blue colored bubbles. The same rules apply, but if you are adding them, it is probably because you like or love them.

Now, if you would just like to tweak your preferences a little bit, then you can follow these instructions as written. I checked Apple’s online help pages, and they specifically say that if you return to these settings, you will add to what you set up when you started with Apple Music. However, if you are like me and have preferences that got off track because you have been sharing an account with others, you will probably find better success starting over fresh with a reset. If this is the case, before getting started on the Genre bubble selection screen, tap Reset on the bottom left.

The Reset isn’t all that affects what you get from Apple Music. The For You results in Apple Music are also based on your listening history. Now, I cannot be absolutely sure that my Reset affected that history because I couldn’t find anything specific about that, but I have a feeling that it did not. So, even though resetting your Genre and Artist Preferences will make a big difference in how Apple Music sees you, the listening habits of others may take time to completely weed out. I would also recommend that you take the time to “Like” and “Dislike” tracks, as necessary. These evidently carry a lot of weight, so I am doing this more now than in the past to keep Siri and Apple Music on track.

Despite these other factors, I can attest to the fact that a reset does make a big difference. I immediately noticed that Apple Music’s recommendations were different. Now, bear in mind that it will take up to a week for your new preferences to become reflected throughout all of your For You section. My Favorites mix was new and much closer to my preferences the next day. The Chill mix updated a couple of days later, but it was a week before I got a new New Music mix that was closer to the mark. It is really just the mixes that take time, as they change at set intervals. The other recommendations throughout the page updated quickly after my changes.

So Apple Music’s gauge of my tastes are actually pretty good right now. I asked Siri to “Play me some music” while I was writing this article, and I’ve only had to skip a few tracks. In fact, I’ve actually asked Siri to “like” a couple that I had never heard that have come up, so they will be added to the rotation. The variety in this mix has also been solid. I have gotten a couple of classical and jazz tracks and one from a soundtrack, along with a plethora of rock, folk, bluegrass, and EDM tracks.

I’m also pleased with the variety of familiar and new music that I have heard. There has been a good mix of tracks that I have “liked” and listen to often, and new ones from related artists. This definitely would not have happened before I performed this reset, so I am glad that it was easy to do. Now that I will be listening to music through the HomePod often while I write, it’s nice to be able to just tell Siri to start playing and know that I will get something back I am happy with.

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4 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks: Resetting your Apple Music Listening Preferences”

  1. I have tried this multiple times and Apple still recommends terrible suggestions that are clearly based on music that I purchased years ago for my daughter. It even still puts songs in my favorites playlist that I have “disliked”. Very frustrating. Any other ideas on how to solve this? Apple has been no help in trying to solve.

    1. Do any other users in your house still have your account set up on their devices? If so, their track plays would still show up for you.

      I did notice some old stuff from iTunes Match that isn’t in Apple Music popping up in a custom playlist that Siri/Apple Music put together for me. They were old kids songs that my wife used to play for our children. They have lots of plays and are tied to my account, so they ended up in this mix. Do you have iTunes Match content uploaded to Apple’s servers? If so, I believe you can go into iTunes on a computer and reset the number of plays. That should take them out of the mix.

      1. That is at least something I haven’t tried yet. I will go reset the plays in iTunes. I still can’t possibly imagine why it would put songs in my favorites playlist if I have previously disliked them. That is just insane that happens.

        1. The problem here is that, for some of this content, we may have years of plays that Apple’s Music algorithms are contending with. No other service has to deal with this much legacy data. The best I can tell is that a large number of plays overrides a single Dislike. Maybe that needs to change, but it seems to be the case right now.

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