iCloud Music Library can be accessed in two ways. You can use Apple Music - that’s a traditional way of doing it or go to iTunes Match, another subscription service that’s connected to the Cloud. 

To understand what iTunes Match is about, let’s compare it to its main competitor - Apple Music. In this comparative iTunes Match review, we’ll see how the two services differ, and for what occasions they should be used. 

What is iTunes Match

iTunes Match combines the streaming functionality of Apple Music but also puts a new spin on it. Here, users can also upload their tracks from Mac or iPhone storage, stream them online or share with friends. Uploaded tracks are available on all Apple devices. 

Users can rip off disks, save tracks from Apple Music playlists - they, however, will be available only in the service, since you can’t keep them on the device. Due to all the extended functionality, the service is more expensive than Apple Music - $25 per month. Unlike in Apple Music, in iTunes Match family sharing comes in this basic subscription. 

What is Apple Music 

Apple Music requires a member to pay $9.99 for a subscription, and in exchange, the service provides you with unlimited access to all music on the platform. The tracks can be played in the general catalog - you don’t have to own the song to stream it. 

Additional services include:

  • Customized playlists, adapted to a specific genre, artist, occasion, time period;
  • New Mixes each week - the list of tracks, personalized to your music taste;
  • Daily suggestions of trendy tracks and songs that fit your preferences;
  • Free access to Apple’s 24/7 radio station, Beats 1;
  • The music is available on all Apple devices.

Do I need iTunes Match with Apple Music?

No, these are two independent services. Apple Music has universal functionality, and usually, it’s enough for the majority of Apple’s users. Apple Match is a more narrow service, dedicated to enthusiastic music fans who use several steaming services and have a rich CD library. 

Also, Apple Match needs a computer to be able to process music tracks and CDs. The tracks can be synchronized with the iPhone, but the functionality only allows previewing music. To add new files and integrate accounts on other streaming services, you need to open the tool on a Mac. 

How to subscribe to Apple Match?

  1. Launch iTunes on your Mac.
  2. Find a dropdown menu in the panel and select ‘Music’ - it can also be highlighted by default. Below the dropdown, click at the ‘Store’ button.
  3. Take a look at the sidebar and click on Music Quick Links panel. Here, you’ll see iTunes Match - it’s just under the Beats 1 button.
  4. Click ‘Subscribe’ and accept the payment agreements.

On iTunes Match, you see matched and uploaded tracks

iTunes Match combines tracks from your storage library, iCloud, iMusic, and purchased files in iTunes in a single musical collection. You can also add tracks from your account on other streaming services. 

How to add music to iTunes Match?

Since the service supports three types of music, there are also three methods for uploading these tracks to your library. How does iTunes Match work? Let’s take a closer look.

Method #1 - iTunes purchases

All tracks that you’ve bought on iTunes will be automatically available on your iMatch library. As soon as you’ve subscribed for the service, you’ll see this music displayed in your playlists. All tags, descriptions, and photos are displayed exactly the way they were in iTunes. 

Method #2 - Music from your storage

In iTunes Match, there is a special scanning mode that allows the service to cross-check your storage tracks with iTunes playlists. To clarify, you don’t have to purchase these songs on iTunes. If songs from your storage also exist in iTunes, you’ll be able to use them on iTunes Match. 

However, if you have vintage or rare tracks that have never been uploaded to iTunes, they will not be integrated into your catalog with this method. Luckily, iTunes has been actively adding old music. Plus, even beginning musicians take care to upload their tunes to the service, so even rare music usually is easily found on iTunes. 

Method #3 - Uploading tracks to iCloud Music Library beforehand

If some tracks are not found on iTunes, you have to upload them to iCloud Music Library. This way, the service will be able to identify these files and connect them with iTunes Match. Here you have to select the tracks manually - but don’t worry, processing takes only a couple of minutes. 

iTunes Match Supported Formats

The service supports all the same file extension that iTunes does. This includes MP3, AAC. AIFF, WAV, and Apple Lossless. For your uploads, however, there is a stricter format limitation. You can only upload files from your storage if they are either MP3 or ACC. 

The files don’t lose quality after they have been processed. The service saves the track in their highest quality possible. Some of the uploaded files may end up sounding better. 

iTunes Match’s Limitations

  • You are allowed to upload no more than 100 000 songs to iCloud Music Library - this is what we discussed as the method #3.
  • Songs should not be larger than 200MB or with duration longer than 2 hours.
  • You can connect no more than 10 devices to the service’s library.
  • Tracks that have digital rights management license will be added only if your computer has been assigned the rights to stream them legally (if you bought them on another musical service, for instance).

Now, a logical question appears. If someone tries to upload a lot of pirated tracks, will iTunes Match report these users to record companies or copyright authorities? Technically, it’s not an impossibility; however, Apple has repeatedly stated that all information between the user and company remains confidential and unknown to third parties. 

iTunes Match Interface Guidance

All tracks, added to the library, can be marked in the following ways:

  • Cloud with a download sign indicates that song is available on your iCloud but isn’t purchased on iTunes.
  • A dotted outline in a cloud means that this track is not yet accessible in your iTunes Match library.
  • X in the cloud indicates that the file has been uploaded to your iCloud library before but was removed from another device. It’s a valuable indication in case your account has been hacked, and someone is erasing your tracks.
  • Cloud with a line means that the file violates the platform’s rules (most likely, copyright requirements), and therefore, cannot be uploaded to the catalog.
  • The exclamation point in the cloud indicates a technical error. If the Internet connection was interrupted during the song’s upload, for instance, you’ll see this icon.

This precise icon system simplifies the process of audio management, as it clearly shows the status of each track. You’ll know why a particular song did not make it to the library or which tracks you already own. iTunes Match brings flawless organization into an audio library. 

How to cancel iTunes Match

You can do this in the service’s main menu. Find the button ‘Cancel the subscription’ and confirm your intentions. The service will automatically stop withdrawing payments. You’ll be able to use the service for the paid period, but with the end of the duration of a paid membership, the access will be forbidden.

How to turn iTunes Match off?

The musical catalog is fully preserved in the iCloud Music Library. All files that you’ve purchased in iTunes, integrated from other streaming services, or uploaded from your storage, will be available on the Cloud. 

Conclusions

If Apple Music has the scope of letting users explore and enjoy music on all Apple devices, the service expands this experience into organization. Users can upload files from their computer’s storage, rip CDs, and integrate libraries from other streaming services. If you feel like Apple Music is no longer enough for you, iTunes Match is the next logical upgrade. 

The service is perfect for those users who have a lot of music on all their devices and would love to synchronize them all in a single library. iTunes Match automatically scans your media file storage and identifies musical tracks, uploading them to the online Cloud. It’s a new perspective on organizing files and enjoying music.