I have been using iTunes, a software that organizes and plays digital music and videos on our computer, for quite some time. I’ve been a happy user considering it’s a one-stop-shop for all music needs since it also includes iTunes Store which has everything we need to be entertained.
However, as 2011 drew to a close, a new service was launched by Apple, which made our music life much easier to manage, thus more fun! It’s called iTunes Match and it’s like Apple’s way of saying “hello Music Lovers! Here’s our pre-Christmas gift to you!” (though some may say it’s more like, “Let’s make it easier for the public to spend money when they have more disposable income.”).
What is iTunes Match?
iTunes Match is a $24.99 yearly subscription service wherein all our music (no matter how we got them) can be stored in iCloud. As result, we can access our entire music library from all our iOS and Mac OS devices.
The idea is to have music stored on a remote server (not a physical machine) and access the music from any device by downloading.
Getting Started with iTunes Match
- Upgrade iTunes to Version 10.5.1. You may do so by selecting iTunes -> Check For Updates from the iTunes toolbar.
- In iTunes, choose iTunes Match in the sidebar. Enter your Apple ID and password and click subscribe for $24.99 (Keep in mind this is a yearly fee. As such, Apple will keep charging you for the service on a yearly basis unless you tell them otherwise).
- iTunes Match will start gathering information about your iTunes library.
- Your music will then be matched with music available in iTunes Store.
- Lastly, unmatched music will be uploaded to iCloud.
- To enable iTunes Match on your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, simply click Settings -> Music -> turn iTunes Match on.
Why is iTunes Match Good?
There are lots of things to love about iTunes Match. I was ecstatic when I finally subscribed to the service. I felt my $25 was well worth it and would not hesitate to renew in the years to come. It was a no-brainer and I recommend the service to everyone who uses Apple products and loves music.
- Backup Music Library to Apple’s Cloud Server – no more worries about losing your music files when your hard drive breaks down or if you lose any of your iOS devices. Your entire music library is stored in the cloud and easily accessed via the Internet.
- Ability to Play Music on up to 10 Devices – Once music is in iTunes Match, you can play your music on up to 10 devices including a maximum of five computers authorized to use your iTunes account and attach up to two Apple TVs.
- Allows You to Access your Music Library from the Cloud – Subscribers will be able to download music to their iOS devices and other PCS without having to upload every single song or repurchase media. We can re-download purchased tracks, and automatically sync new purchases to multiple devices. When you want to play an album or song, you just need need to find it in the library then download to the device that you want to play it on. You can stream the music, or press an icon with a downward arrow inside a cloud to download it. My music collection is now complete and essentially identical on all my computers and on my iPad and iPhone, allowing me to access any of my songs from any of these devices, without manual synchronization via a cable, or paying more than once for the same song.
- Tracks that are in iTunes will be added automatically – iTunes Store has over 20 million songs in its collection. It’s most probable that the songs you have in your music library are already in Apple’s database. Those songs once matched, will be added automatically to the Cloud. Uploading won’t be needed anymore thus saving us lots of time. Songs not available in iTunes Store will be uploaded from your computer to a personal locker in the cloud.
- Songs bought from iTunes won’t be counted against 25,000-song Limit – iTunes Match has a limit of 25,000 per account. However, if you bought songs using the same Apple ID in iTunes, they won’t be included in the 25,000 songs limit. That means more storage!
- Automatically Upgrade Music to 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality – iTunes Match is a quick and uber cheap way to upgrade. Especially if you have lots of music that are at 128kbps or even lower, this is applicable for people who have ripped CDs to save storage space when storage capacities were smaller before. By default, if iTunes Match finds a song in its library, it will replace that track with a 256-kbps AAC version. These files are DRM free when downloaded from the cloud — and appear to be the same files users purchase directly from iTunes.includes songs purchased from non-Apple music services or imported from CDs, or even those that were downloaded illegally.
- Retains Playlists, Song Ratings and Play Counts – it’s not just songs that are being stored in the Cloud. Even the playlists that we organized carefully as well as ratings that we put in each song are saved! How cool is that? To make things easier, even play counts are saved too! I found that very useful as I listen to my favorite songs often and I use the play count to easily access my favorites. You no longer need to manually sync playlists with your iOS device via iTunes — instead it all takes place over the cloud. That means my iPhone can see playlists I’ve created on my laptop or desktop. The process works in reverse too. I can create playlists on my iPad or iPhone and then access those playlists from within iTunes on the desktop or from another iOS device.
- Not a Streaming Service – on a computer, any songs stored in iCloud will stream over the air when played, though you can download them at any time by clicking the iCloud download button. iOS devices will start playing tracks from iCloud as they download and will store them so that you can listen to them later even if you don’t have a network connection. Apple TV only streams songs. That means a full copy of the song is stored for listening anytime, rather than streamed on demand over wireless networks, which can be spotty. There’s nothing more annoying than having your songs stop and start as your connection flutters.
iTunes Match is not Perfect
While iTunes Match gave a huge smile on my face, it has also provided some headaches (or even heartaches!). Yes, I’m a huge obsessive compulsive (OC) lady. I took so much time managing my tremendously big iTunes Music library to the point of individually putting album artworks and lyrics to each of the songs. Due to this, I was extremely disappointed when iTunes Match caused album art to never appear or to only show up when a song is playing.
I had a great number of songs that are in fact in iTunes Store but weren’t matched and instead, uploaded in Apple’s Cloud servers. This is another frustration in iTunes Match service. iTunes Match couldn’t match several albums in my collection, even with proper metadata. It’s too bad there’s no option to manually match tracks to their iTunes Store counterparts, which would save unnecessary uploading.
Since I have more than 10,000 songs in my music collection. I had to wait 3 long days before all the songs get stored in the cloud. Slow internet connection had something to do with it too.
Last, but definitely not the least, I got the shock of my life when I lost all my stored music on my iPhone when I activated iTunes Match. Apparently, iTunes Match will delete music stored on iPhone and will need to replace it by downloading songs from iCloud collection. But I found a solution for this inconvenience – You can turn iTunes Match off on your iOS device and download the music from your iTunes library. Then turn iTunes Match back on your iOS device and your cloud music will appear along with the music downloaded from your iTunes library.
Those mentioned are the only complaints that I had. However, some might find the ff. annoying too:
iTunes Match is Limited to 25,000 Songs – If you’re a hardcore music fan, then I’m sure 25,000 song-limit will definitely set you back. iTunes Match only works for songs, not audiobooks, videos, ringtones, podcasts and others.
Songs greater than 200MB won’t be accepted – in all honesty, is there any music that is as big as 200MB?
Is iTunes Match for You?
Just like all things, iTunes Match is not for everyone. Like for example, if you don’t have an iOS device or a Mac OS device, then subscribing to iTunes Match won’t make sense. Another one is if 100% of all your music are bought from iTunes, then it doesn’t make sense since iTunes in the Cloud (keeps all the music you purchased from the iTunes Store and makes it available to all your iTunes compatible devices) is completely free.
Let’s say you subscribed to iTunes Match then decided not to renew. You don’t have to worry as you get to keep all your 256khz music matched during the time of subscription forever. You can access them by going to ‘purchased music’ from iTunes to redownload it. The only thing that you will lose is central storage – iCloud will no longer stream/download songs to your devices.
As for me, iTunes Match’s $24.99/year subscription fee is worth every penny. It makes my life much more easier especially that I have more than 10,000 songs available in the Cloud and whatever changes I do on my music library will automatically be updated in my devices. How awesome is technology now?