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It seems that play counts are totally disfunctional in the latest versions of iTunes (versions 12.5.3 currently). I know that there have been sync problems all the time, but since I joined Apple Music it won't even increase the count for songs played from the local library in the local iTunes. Most of the songs in my library are stuck at zero plays although I listen to them often.

Everything else in Apple Music seems to be working all right. In particular, the "For You" Section does show my latest plays under "Recent plays", just the numbers in the library remain zero forever. I wonder if it is relevant, or if maybe Apple Music keeps playcounts separate from the local ones.

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Unfortunately the solution provided does not work for all of us. Every day I play music from iCloud Music Library on my iPhone, and every day only the first track I listen to has the play count increased by 1.

  • Oh yes. I also see this bug, but it is a separate bug, I think. In my case the playcounts would not even update when playing locally in iTunes. – Thomas Nov 9 '16 at 12:53
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    Also: Please check if you are not just seeing delayed sync as described here: discussions.apple.com/thread/7106682?start=0&tstart=0 – Thomas Nov 11 '16 at 7:59
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This is a bug. I solved it by logging out of iCloud on my iOS devices and back in. It then synced a whole week full of playcounts that it had seemingly cached locally on the iPhone. Now playcounts also update in iTunes again.

Given the (scarce) documentation of Apple Music, it seems that recommendations are indeed based on play counts to. For example sometimes it explains "Since you are listening to ..." above some recommendations. (Admittedly these could also be based on existence in the library).

There is a "Heavy rotation" section in "For you" and this is definitely based on recent plays, as it was not updating for me, and it is updating now.

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