In short: Make sure the “Use Listening History” setting is enabled on all of your devices under the same Apple ID. Also, make sure you check the “Device update play counts” checkbox on your Mac computer.
The Apple Music “play count” records the number of times a song has been played across your devices. However, many people notice the Apple Music play count not updating.
Do I think that the Apple Music play count system is good? Not really. But here are some things you can do to make sure the Apple Music play count is updating properly.
Add the songs to your library
The first thing you should do is to make sure the song is in your Apple Music library. The app only tracks the play count for songs added to your library, and it can take a while to update.
Enable the “Use Listening History” setting
If your Apple Music play count is not updating, make sure that the Use Listening History setting is turned on for all of your devices under the same Apple ID.
On an iOS device (iPhone or iPad), open the Settings app on your device then tap on Music. Make sure that the Use Listening History toggle is green and enabled.
On your Mac computer, open the Apple Music app. Then, tap on the More button and then tap on Settings. Make sure that the Use Listening History toggle is enabled.
On an Android device, open the Apple Music app. At the top of the screen, tap on the More button. Then, tap on Settings and make sure that the Use Listening History toggle is enabled.
According to Apple, disabling the “Use Listening History” feature will turn off the entire play count recording on the Apple Music app on all of your devices under the same Apple ID.
This means by turning off this setting, you’re no longer collecting the data (on that device) that Apple uses to populate and update playback-based features like Replay, for example.
So, if you want to take advantage of the Apple Music play count statistics, please enable the “Use Listening History” setting. It should keep track of the songs you’ve been listening to.
Turn on Home Sharing using a Mac computer
If you use both an iOS device and a Mac computer, you’ll need to turn on Home Sharing so the entire play count updates across both devices. You need a Mac computer to set this up.
With Home Sharing, you can share, stream, and import media, including updating the play count, from up to five computers that are connected to your home Wi-Fi network.
On your Mac, choose the Apple menu then navigate to System Settings. Click on General in the sidebar, then click Sharing on the right. You may need to scroll down.
Turn on Media Sharing, then click the info button (i) next to it.
Select Home Sharing, then enter your Apple ID and click Turn on Home Sharing. Use the same Apple ID for every computer or device on your Home Sharing network.
Make sure you check the “Device update play counts” checkbox if you want Apple Music to update play counts (the number of times an item has been played) across your devices.
When you play a song on Apple Music on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, as well as other computers in your Home Sharing network, the play count will be accounted for.
Just make sure that all of your devices are signed into the same Apple ID. The play count may not update instantly, but it should update once you quit the Music app from your Mac.
Your mobile device is the one to blame
If you’ve enabled both “Use Listening History” and Home Sharing, but the Apple Music play count is still not updating, then your mobile device might be the one to blame.
Restart your mobile device, then open Apple Music on your computer. Then, play a song to completion on your mobile device. Check the desktop version and the play count should update.
Sometimes, the issue stems from the mobile device you’re using to stream music. It’s simply not sending the play count to your Apple Music account or iCloud Music Library.
Apple Music play count is inconsistent when you use AirPlay
It seems like the Apple Music play count is inconsistent when you use external speakers. I know that I’m not actually offering a solution, but I’m just sharing an observation.
I notice that whenever I stream a song from Apple Music to my HomePod via AirPlay, it will sometimes update the play count for the first song, but not for the subsequent songs.
Recently, I added some HomePod Minis for a different room in my house. When the HomePod Minis are chosen through the Music app the play count will not update.
The play count also wouldn’t update when I stream a song from Apple Music to a Sonos speaker or amplifier, as well as CarPlay too. Go figure.
It’s been inconsistent. Sometimes Apple Music will update the play count for the first song that plays, but nothing afterward until the next time my phone connects.
Although it’s not the best solution for this issue, you can stream Apple Music without external speakers to make sure the play count updates properly.
If you don’t mind the inconvenience, just deselect your speakers (the HomePods, for example) and the play count on Apple Music should update just fine afterward.
Apple Music play count is not accurate
If your Apple Music play count is not updating, sometimes it’s best to expect the worst. It’s well-known that the Apple Music play count system isn’t the best anyway.
My biggest (and only) gripe with Apple Music is the play count inconsistency. I’ve never seen anyone who is able to fully explain how and when it works, or why it doesn’t work.
I’ve noticed that sometimes the play count of one song can update instantly while other songs played at the same time won’t show up for days (or seemingly, not at all).
There’s also seemingly a disconnect between the “recently played” list between devices.
My iPhone will show the accurate “recently played” list but my iPad, as well as the iTunes on Windows, will usually show a fraction of the recently played list from the iPhone.
When the song’s play count updates, the “recently played” list doesn’t change. It just seems to be an absolute mess somewhere on the backend and I can’t figure out anything consistent.
Play count tracking is important for many people, and I’m baffled as to how something so basic can be so broken. If Apple is going to raise the price of the service, then it should work properly.
My suggestion is to use the tips from this article, but you should keep your expectations low. Apple Music play count isn’t the best and it’s definitely not as good as Spotify.