When Apple announced iTunes Music Match I didn’t give it much thought. It was probably overshadowed by a phone or MacBook Air. Or maybe I didn’t fully grasp what Apple was offering.
Either way, I’ve tried so many music services over the years that the idea of yet another option felt like more of the same. I store about 15 gigs worth of music locally although only a fraction of that do I add to my iTunes library. The only music service that I stuck with for more than couple of years is Slacker Radio, and I still recommend their service.
Slacker doesn’t receive the press of Spotify or Pandora, and they don’t possess the polish of Rhapsody, but they do one thing better than any other service I’ve used: discover great music.
But I still have a large collection on my home PC that’s organized in iTunes playlists. I found myself at work wanting access to my playlists at home so I decided to purchase iTunes Match for $25/year. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but figured it was worth a shot. My goal was to be able to play my music collection at work without having to manage two libraries.
I opened iTunes, clicked on Store and turned on iTunes Match. A screen appeared asking me to confirm my purchase and seconds later iTunes was indexing (pic above) my music collection.
From what I understand, iTunes searches my entire music collection to determine matches between music on my PC and the iTunes Store. Any match is immediately enabled for streaming. Any songs it can’t’ find in the iTunes store, it uploads (up to 25,000 songs) to their iCloud. One nifty feature of iTunes Match is that, whenever possible, your music files are matched to a DRM-free, 256kbs high quality version on Apple’s server. If not, your songs are uploaded as is.
So far, I’ve made 5495 songs available in iCloud.
What I’ve enjoyed most about iTunes Match is that I’m able to have the identical iTunes setup at work as I do at home. It met my goal of wanting to access my iTunes Library at work.
I also enjoy being able to stream music to my iPad and iPhone. Space is always issue with my 16 GB iPad so being able to stream my music without taking up gigs worth of storage is sweet.
Would I recommend iTunes Match for everyone? No, I wouldn’t. If I had a small collection I’d probably load up my iPhone and plug it into speakers at work. Or I’d sync a few hundred songs via Dropbox and point iTunes or Winamp at them.
But I like being able to add to my music collection (Amazon’s MP3 store is my favorite) on my PC and having it show up everywhere else. No more managing folders and files on multiple devices.
iTunes Match is a “set it and forget it” service. Depending on the size of collection, it can a while to setup. The more obscure your taste in music, the more songs you’ll need to upload to iCloud. But once it’s working, there’s nothing to futz with. It doesn’t call attention to itself, and like most things Apple, it just works.