Why Does Apple Music Shuffle Play the Same Songs?

In short: If Apple Music shuffle plays the same songs, check if the Shuffle mode has been switched to Repeat mode. You may also be shuffling an album or playlist, instead of the library.

Despite turning on Shuffle mode on your Apple Music, you keep hearing the same songs repeat in the same order. So, why does Apple Music shuffle play the same songs?

1. The repeat feature is turned on

Check whether the repeat feature is on or off. Often, Apple Music subscribers do not realize that they have switched on the repeat feature instead of shuffle mode.

You would be amazed how many times I see posts from people who have turned on repeat, which simply repeats the same song over and over again.

Here’s how to turn off repeat:

  1. Open the Apple Music app.
  2. Tap the song that’s playing at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap the Playing Next button in the lower-right corner.
  4. tap Repeat One or Repeat All until it changes to Repeat Off.

When the Repeat button isn’t highlighted, repeat is turned off. If you don’t see the Repeat button, make sure to update your iPhone to the latest version of iOS.

If you’re playing music in your Autoplay queue, the Repeat button disappears. You can’t repeat songs in your Autoplay queue. If you’re playing music on repeat, then only that music will play. 

You won’t see your Autoplay queue until you turn off repeat.

2. You are shuffling an album or playlist instead of the library

If you have thousands of songs in your library, but you keep hearing the same couple hundred songs, it could be that you’re merely shuffling an album or playlist instead of your library.

Try tapping shuffle again to toggle a different order of songs.

A simple yet effective fix I’ve found is using Siri. Just say “Hey Siri, shuffle my music” and Apple Music will give you a real shuffle of songs instead of having the same ones play over and over.

You can ask Siri to turn the shuffle on. Or, you can manually turn shuffle on in the Apple Music app. Make sure you are not just pressing shuffle on an album or playlist, but your library.

  1. Open the Apple Music app.
  2. At the bottom of your screen, tap Library.
  3. Tap Songs or Albums.
  4. At the top of Songs or Albums, tap the Shuffle button.

You need to select Library before you tap the Shuffle button. If you press the Shuffle button at the top of an album or playlist, Apple Music will just play the songs on that specific list.

3. Shuffle is an algorithm, after all

When people think of “Shuffle”, most people would suggest that Apple Music should play the entire library in random order. Unfortunately, this is not something that could happen.

It’s best to understand that “Shuffle” mode is an algorithm after all. Shuffle mode appears to favor tracks with the highest play count, even if the highest count is just “one”.

It also seems to favor new purchases from iTunes, rather than new tracks from other sources. I’d like to think of the term “shuffle” as similar to the randomness of a deck of cards.

Playing a deck of cards one at a time, we would eventually see every card. Shuffle, on the other hand, will play a track 5 times and while leaving more than ⅓ of your library unplayed.

I understand that you choose “shuffle” because you want random, not an algorithm.

However, even computer-generated “random” numbers aren’t actually random. They can follow subtle patterns that can be observed over long periods of time, or over many instances.

I often delete play counts on Apple Music. Or, I press play on all tracks, then I hit shuffle. Both of these workarounds help. They are not necessarily a solution, but they add variety to the mix.

4. Not utilizing the Smart Playlist feature

If you don’t want to rely on Apple Music’s shuffle algorithm, try using the Smart Playlist feature. You can curate a list of songs that you can play at any given time.

I have a bunch of Smart Playlists I use for shuffling songs, and one way to keep them fresh is to make criteria to only play songs you haven’t listened to in the last 3 or 6 months.

To create a Smart Playlist, you’ll need a Mac computer.

  1. Open the Music app on your Mac.
  2. Click File > New from the menu bar.
  3. Click Smart Playlist in the pop-out menu.
  4. Check the box at the top to Match the following rule.

When the Smart Playlist setup window opens, you can choose the criteria for your playlist. I like to create a rule to add songs last played in the last 3 or 6 months.

You can also choose to change the option to least recently played or least often played to go through the songs that appear less in the shuffle mode.

After you have all of your criteria added, you can optionally check the boxes for the other items for your playlist. When you finish, choose OK to save your Smart Playlist rules.

Now as the Smart Playlist plays various songs, you will see the difference.

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