iTunes Match, active in the USA since November 2011 and later on in many more countries, is a perfect extension and combination of Apple services: iTunes as the library and iCloud as the storage service. This (paid) service gives the subscriber a lot of advantages for a relatively small amount.
What is iTunes Match?
iTunes Match is an integrated part of the popular iTunes (for both Mac and PC). Basically, you can store your complete music-library and playlists in the cloud and use it on all the iDevices who are logged in on the same account.
After signing up, iTunes Match will scan your library and match your songs with the 20 million song catalog of Apple. Like this, you don’t have to upload everything you have. Only the songs without a match will be uploaded to the cloud to make them available for your other iDevices through iCloud.
Big advantage of this approach is the fact that 256-kbps DRM-free AAC Files will replace all the matched songs, no matter the quality.
This is a paid service but, for all the advantages, $24.99 per year is a bargain.
1. Subscribe to iTunes Match
First of all: the service can only be used when you have iTunes 10.5.1 or later. If your version is older, it is time to perform some updates!
Within iTunes, go to the store-menu on the upper side, and click ‘turn on iTunes Match’. An iTunes window will open automatically like the one below. Click on the blue button ‘Subscribe for $24.99 Per Year’, enter your Apple-ID and password to confirm. Then click ‘Add this Computer’.
Now you can take a few mugs of coffee, while iTunes Match does all the hard work for you!
2. Three steps: Scan, Match & Upload
iTunes Match will perform three steps now/ First of all, it will gather all your library information and upload it to the cloud. After this is done, iTunes will try to match all your tracks against the more than 20 million songs in the iTunes Store. As a last step, iTunes will upload all the tracks that didn’t match with one of the songs in Apple’s database. Depending on the size of your library and the number of non-matched songs, this is the most time-consuming part of the process. Be patient please…
3. iCloud Status
Now the three-step process is done, things get interesting now. To see the status of the songs in the cloud, you need to turn on the appropriate status bar in iTunes. Select your music-library in the left column, go to the menu ‘View’ and click on ‘View Options’. A window will appear where you can select ‘iCloud Status’ in the second column. After doing so, you can close the window.
Back in iTunes, you see the new column with little clouds explaining you everything about the status of the given track. Above, you will see a handy chart I took from Apple’s website. This will give you a fine explanation of the different status-clouds.
4. Download the matched tracks in 256Kpps DRM-free AAC quality
Now everything is arranged in the cloud, you can play your music again. You will notice, while playing a track, that it is not streaming. When you play a song, the song is downloading to your device and playing at the same time. In my opinion a disadvantage but, on the other hand, it will save bandwidth in the future for your most popular tracks.
To download all your matched tracks from the cloud in the high AAC quality, you have to do a few steps:
a) Make a smart-playlist as illustrated in this image.
When finished, iTunes will present you a list of tracks that are matched and eligible for download.
b) Select a track in your new Smartlist as a tryout, hold down the Option key, and press Delete. iTunes will ask for confirmation. Click ‘Delete Item’ and then ‘Move to Trash’, which removes the track from your iTunes folder but keeps it available should something go wrong. The file is now deleted, but all the artwork and metadata are still in iTunes!
c) The selected track is, even after deleting, still in your smartlist. Only difference is that one of the Cloud-icons appeared in the iCloud column. Click on the icon, and the track will be downloaded from the cloud, in the desired 256-kbps DRM-free AAC format. Cool ah?
d) If you want, you can do that with all the tracks in the smartlist. You can do it one by one, in batches or the whole list in one time. That is up to you.
Add your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch
To add other devices, like an iPhone: Sign in to the iTunes Store using the same Apple-ID and password. Then go to ‘Settings’, click on ‘Music’ and turn the switch ‘iTunes Match’ on. It is that simple!