If you have been wondering why every time you turn your phone off or reboot it your cached and stored-for-offline-playback music has been disappearing, well Google has the answer and is working on a fix.

Users have been reporting that the Google Play Music app has been deleting their cached music from the storage on their phone or tablet when rebooting. Several users have made Google aware of this issue, with one user who spoke to Android Police, talking about their experience speaking to Google Play support about the bug receiving an extremely unsettling answer and ultimately very incorrect answer:

The Gooogle representative told this user that Play Music deleting cached or downloaded music on the microSD card every time it was unmounted or “unplugged” from the phone was a copyright protection feature.

This answer was completely wrong, and a second representative quickly made it apparent that this behavior is a bug.

According to Android Police, the reply is a bit lengthy but they have summarised below:

‘I want to first apologize for the information we provided to you about the issue with subscription tracks being deleted from the SD card. After reviewing your case details, it looks like the previous agent you spoke with misunderstood the issue that you’re reporting. We have taken immediate actions to address this which should prevent a situation like this from happening in the future. Again, I deeply apologize for not accurately understanding the issue you were experiencing and for not providing you with the correct information on the issue.

I’d like to first explain how music is stored for offline listening. Music files that are downloaded to a device (phone or tablet) are only downloading a cached version of song’s file, not the actual .mp3 file. This is done to help minimize the amount of space that the downloaded music takes up. This is also implemented to curb abuse of the subscription service as the download music is only accessible through the Google Play Music app for that device and account. This means that a user wouldn’t be able to download music to an SD card and then take that SD card and use it on a different device as the music is chased to that device and account.’

There are some technical inaccuracies with this statement, for example the rep claims that songs from All Access aren’t kept as MP3 files when they’re selected for storage offline, when they are, they’re simply stored in a protected private folder, where only Play Music should be allowed to play them. For songs in your saved library, there’s no protection at all and you should have access to those files on the external SD card.

The statement went on to address the issue and speak about a fix:

With that said, music that has been downloaded for offline listening, either to the internal storage or SD card, should never be deleted without the user initiating the deletion. This is an actual known issue with this service. The good news is that we are aware of this issue and are actively working to get it fixed. Thanks for your effort in submitting those logs earlier, which helped make us aware of this issue.

Basically to sum it up, Google Play Music shouldn’t ever erase music from your phone or tablet unless you explicitly tell it to. Google Play is erasing music from the device storage has nothing directly to do with copyright, although it does indirectly have a relationship there, but Google is working on it.

Google is working on fixing this bug but at this stage there is no eta. We will have to wait for the update to hit Google Play but in the mean time, you may want to just keep an eye on your songs downloaded on your microSD card.

Source: Android Police.