For months now, whenever my wife or I asked our HomePods to play an artist or playlist, they would respond with “Sorry, I couldn’t find X in your library. You can ask me to play a podcast or music from another app.” Considering playing music is one of the HomePod’s core reasons for existing, this was… frustrating.

I think I finally fixed the problem, and it may be a combination of a self-inflicted wound running into what I think might be a long-tail bug. Fortunately, our HomePods are back to playing requests from our individual libraries and Apple Music, including my custom playlists.

Context

For a long time, if you created a .Mac/iCloud account and used Apple’s default domains, you could not change the account login to a different email. The account I’ve used to purchase all music, videos, apps, and now subscriptions is a .Mac that I created before the introduction of the original iTunes Music Store.

Apple recently removed this account limitation. Users with a .Mac, MobileMe, or iCloud account that used those default domain names can now change their login address to anything—Outlook, Yahoo, or a custom domain. Earlier this year, I changed the login email for my store account to something at one of my personal domains, chartier.land.

The problem

Now, we don’t play music on our HomePods all the time. In the evenings we watch TV together or I’m playing games on my PC. During the day I hook my MacBook up to my PC speakers and listen to music and YouTube there while working.

Once we did try playing music and our HomePods could no longer find artists or playlists in either of our libraries, it was long enough after I changed my account address that I did not initially consider it a suspect.

I tried everything—resetting all HomePods, manually signing out and back into all accounts (including my .Mac with a new personal email), complaining on Mastodon. Nothing worked, and eventually we just gave up trying to play music on what became expensive well-designed, furniture-staining paperweights.

The fix

Yesterday, it dawned on me that my .Mac account switch could be the problem. At first I didn’t understand why it would also affect my wife’s ability to play music from her library. But then I remembered we share an Apple Music family subscription purchased through my .Mac account that has a potentially problematic login address change.

After work, I logged into the Apple ID site and changed my .Mac account login back to its original address. I changed it on my iPhone too, then did another hard reset of our living room HomePod. I saw the original .Mac credentials listed in the Home app, but it was ‘Configuring’ for a bit (I think it downloads the latest HomePod OS update right away). We watched some Sandman and Midsommer Murders, then went to bed.

Conclusion

This morning I asked our living room HomePod to play my Instrumental Work playlist of chill-but-not-sleepy music I’ve curated over the years. HomePod started playing like normal. Jessi asked it to play some Fleetwood Mac (which is not in my library) and it switched over without a hitch.

I suspect the HomePod OS and/or Apple Music don’t like it when a .Mac (or other Apple service) account gets a login address change, despite Apple announcing this as an officially supported feature not long ago. However, if some people have successfully changed addresses but avoided this problem, maybe it’s something more specific, such as my .land TLD. I still run into some websites and services that don’t recognize it as a valid domain.

Of course, I’ll report this as a bug to Apple, although it strikes me as quite far on the long tail of problems to fix. I’m just happy our HomePods can play music again.

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