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How iTunes Match and Apple Music work together

Kirk McElhearn | July 3, 2015
If you have an iTunes Match subscription, and you've updated to the latest version of iTunes (12.2), you may have had a bit of a surprise. There is, actually, scant mention of iTunes Match in the iTunes interface, and it can be a bit confusing trying to figure out how iTunes Match works in the new iTunes landscape.

itunes match

If you have an iTunes Match subscription, and you've updated to the latest version of iTunes (12.2), you may have had a bit of a surprise. There is, actually, scant mention of iTunes Match in the iTunes interface, and it can be a bit confusing trying to figure out how iTunes Match works in the new iTunes landscape.

If you've signed up for Apple Music, then it can be even more confusing, since Apple Music also matches tracks the way iTunes Match does. Here's an overview of how these two services work in iTunes and on iOS, and how they work together.

Independent but complementary

On the membership section of the Apple Music website, Apple says that "Apple Music and iTunes Match are independent but complementary." They say little more, and when you look at the latest version of iTunes, it's not clear how iTunes Match works.

The first thing to understand is that Apple is no longer using the name "iTunes Match," at least within iTunes. iTunes Match is now part of the iCloud Music Library, which includes the following:

  • Purchased tracks (previously called iTunes in the Cloud)
  • Tracks matched or uploaded with iTunes Match
  • Tracks matched or uploaded with Apple Music
  • Streaming tracks that you've added to My Music, if you have an Apple Music subscription

You may not have all of the above. If you don't have an iTunes Match subscription, and haven't signed up for an Apple Music free trial, then you iCloud Music Library will only contain purchased tracks, if any.

The iCloud Music Library, therefore, contains multitudes. To make sure you see these cloud-stored tracks in iTunes, choose iTunes > Preferences, click General, and check iCloud Music Library. On iOS, open Settings, and then choose Music > iCloud Music Library.

You can subscribe to either iTunes Match or Apple Music from the Account menu in iTunes. If you're already signed into these services, you won't see the iTunes Match and Apple Music menu items.

While iTunes Match and Apple Music seem to offer similar features via iCloud Music Library, there are some important differences. Here's how each one works.

iTunes Match

With an iTunes Match subscription, iTunes matches your library, uploads any unmatched tracks, and makes your music available on multiple devices through the iCloud Music Library. If you have low-quality tracks, iTunes Match "upgrades" them, allowing you to download 256 kbps AAC files without DRM. You can also download your files to any computer linked to your iTunes Match account, and listen to your music on any linked iOS device. iTunes Match has a limit of 25,000 tracks, not including iTunes Store purchases.

 

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