Apple Music will now let you store your music library DRM-free

When Apple Music launched, the service boasted that in addition to the subscription catalog, you could listen to your personal music collection anywhere with iCloud Music Library. But unlike the company's iTunes Match service, tracks were matched with metadata only, and they were matched to the DRM-encumbered Apple Music catalog rather than the DRM-free iTunes Music catalog.

This led to many issues with track matching as well as people panicking that Apple Music was DRM-locking their libraries, and quite a few pleas from me for Apple to maybe just ditch matching altogether.

But there's good news ahead: While Apple may not have taken my advice exactly, the company is majorly fixing Apple Music's matching problems: Starting today, the company is rolling out iTunes Match's features to all of its Apple Music subscribers.

Wait, what does that mean?

In short: All non-Apple Music tracks you own are matching to the iTunes Store catalog, with audio fingerprinting for better results, and they will show up as Matched or Uploaded on your auxiliary devices. DRM matching is gone: The only tracks encumbered by DRM from here on out will be those downloaded from Apple Music directly.

Any personal tracks you purchased or ripped from CDs will display as Matched, or (if Apple can't match them to the iTunes catalog) Uploaded.

From Jim Dalrymple at The Loop:

This is, in fact, the same version of iTunes Match that iTunes users could pay for as a separate subscription since Apple began offering it years ago. I am one of those users. However, all subscribers to Apple Music will get the new version of iTunes Match at no extra cost.

This also means that the $25/year iTunes Match service is being deprecated; anyone who subscribes to Apple Music will now get it as part of their subscription.

Why is this a big deal?

Not only will your matched songs hopefully be more accurate thanks to audio fingerprinting, but not having DRM on your personal tracks is a gigantic win for users and greatly simplifies Apple Music headaches.

While I still encourage everyone to have a full backup of their iTunes library before subscribing to any cloud service, this now means that even if you accidentally (or intentionally) delete your personal iTunes library on your main Mac, you'll be able to re-download copies of those songs that are DRM-free. I'd still love to see a force-upload option for tracks, but this is a huge step in the right direction.

How does this personally affect me?

Got lost in the mumbo-jumbo above? Here's the deal for your specific situation.

If you don't use Apple Music or iTunes Match

Not much, but if you're considering signing up for Apple Music, the matching algorithm just got a whole lot more reliable and doesn't involve DRM-locking secondary copies of your music library.

If you only use iTunes Match

Currently, the iTunes Match service still exists, and your active subscription won't go away without you cancelling it.

If you only use Apple Music

Any music you purchased from iTunes, ripped from CDs, or had in your library will soon be classified as Purchased, Matched, or Uploaded, and will not have DRM applied to it. When you download one of those tracks on another device you own, it's yours forever and won't disappear if you cancel your subscription. (Apple Music tracks and playlists will disappear or become unplayable if you cancel, because they weren't your songs in the first place.)

If you use both Apple Music and iTunes Match

You will soon no longer have to pay for both services: Apple Music is getting iTunes Match bundled inside of it.

What isn't changing?

  • Any tracks or playlists you download from the Apple Music subscription library will be DRM-encumbered, because you don't own them, and will disappear if you cancel your subscription.
  • If you cancel Apple Music, any iCloud Music Library tracks you don't have stored on a device will disappear. (Matched or uploaded tracks you did download will stay the same.)

When can I get the new version of Apple Music matching?

Apple is taking a steady approach to the iTunes Match rollout for Apple Music subscribers, moving over 1-2 percent of its users every day. The rollout will happen automatically, so you won't need to do anything; once you are rolled over, expect to see "Matched" instead of "Apple Music" on your iCloud Music Library tracks.

Other questions?

Let me know below.

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

  • So if I pay for both, the question I have, will I need to cancel my sub for Match, or will they just credit me? Curious.. As long as it works.. thats cool.. if it doesn't.. Expect a Jim like response from everyone who tries it.
  • Basically, this is just the matching process should be more accurate as it will use the same matching process as iTunes Match, and if it does work, then u just gotta decide if u need DRM free matched music or not to keep iTunes match. Too late for me.. I turned off auto renew on both services tonight..
  • Not exactly. As a subscriber to both, once I am converted over, I will no longer need to pay the $25/year to keep Match. As long as you continue to subscribe to Apple Music, any tracks you own will be DRM free on all your devices. iTunes Match will become redundant. Sent from the iMore App
  • That's not what it says "Not only will your matched songs hopefully be more accurate thanks to audio fingerprinting, but not having DRM on your personal tracks is a gigantic win for users and greatly simplifies Apple Music headaches.' So Matching will improve but Apple Music will now give you DRM free versions of music you own. My question is, how will I know once my Apple Music has switched over. I use both Apple Music and iTunes Match, because I currently want DRM free. Once DRM free comes to Apple Music it'd be nice to have an indicator as to when the change happens so I can cancel iTunes Match.
  • Same here. I don't renew until late October/early November (whatever the anniversary of it going live is). I will assume it will be done by then, so I will just turn off auto-renew
  • opps.. so DRM free now ... for Apple music...
  • How will this work with Family Sharing?
  • Guessing that any music those members devices that are owned will now have no DRM across devices. But any on yours (as the primary) will not automatically be DRM free for them. Sent from the iMore App
  • Yup, exactly.
  • So does this mean I'll no longer have to hear the clean version of songs now? Sent from the iMore App
  • In theory. Match was never perfect about this, either.
  • Just to check my understanding, if I cancel Apple Music, I will lose all my matched music too unless already downloaded to a device? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • That is my understanding. However, I think iTunes Match had a 14 day or 1 month grace period for downloading them.
  • Any matched music in iCloud. It won't strip your local copies. (Previously, any local copies you'd re-downloaded or downloaded to another computer from iCloud were matched to the Apple Music library, and would have been rendered unplayable.)
  • Finally! I may try this again, but I switched to Google Play Music long ago. Hopefully this resolves the big bag of hurt that music on Apple has been up until now! Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Thanks for the article, Serenity. But what has stopped me from trying to use iCloud Music Library is that I can't afford to find it ripping up my carefully edited metadata on all my iTunes Library tracks. It took me ages to fix all that Artist/Song Title/Composer info the way I want it — is there any way I can be sure that when a track is matched on iCloud Music Library it won't also go ahead and ruin all that cataloging? (And who ever thought it would be a good idea to list artists by their first name anyway??) Thanks! Benjamin Pilkington
  • Ugh, I wish there was an option for force upload to preserve metadata, Benjamin, but no dice yet. Definitely continue filing bug reports and encouraging Apple to add this as an option.
  • Edit: typos I'm using a PC, so not sure how this works for a Mac. On PC, though, if you set your music files to "Read Only", iTunes can't change the metadata on them. So once they are all matched, it'll probably be a mess on your iPhone or iPad, but it'll be all right on iTunes, at least.
    As I've discovered after a while using it, once a song is matched to the Apple Music catalog, any metadata changes you make on iTunes will also be done on all of your devices. So, as long as you remember to retoggle the files to "Read Only" after making the changes, you're good to go. What I did to make all my tagging correct on my iPhone was first synching music via iTunes, only then turning iCloud Library on and waiting about two days to make sure all of it was matched. Then I went to manually cut/paste the album cover and any tagging I wanted to be corrected - yep, manually. I have about 50GB of music (made it to every single album, to be sure), and not much time to play so it was about two weeks of work - but so **** worth it. Now even when I modify tagging on Apple Music offline songs, it'll travel across my devices (like changing covers, or removing "Deluxe Edition" from an album name). This makes Apple Music the best streaming service for me now (and I've tried ALL of them - even Groove).
  • This is essentially what I had to do as well, and I also have a very large iTunes music library.
  • My iTunes Match subscription is due on august 1st. Since I am subscribed to Apple Music , should I renew iTunes Match? What's the way I will know Apple Music is upgraded to DRM free music if I am subscribed to both Sent from the iMore App
  • As long as you have your complete library downloaded locally, it shouldn't hurt either way to cancel Match — from there, you should be able to check iCloud Status to see if Apple Music has transitioned over for you. (I've just always cautioned against cancelling Match if you're storing your library in iCloud and don't have a physical backup.)
  • I have backup of the library on my local machine.. then I will think over it by Jul 31 and cancel the match subscription... Sent from the iMore App
  • How do you check iCloud Status? If it is in the System Status page what would show if it has transitioned?
  • I made the iCloud Status column visible in my song list on iTunes, and the status is shown.
  • Thanks. Didn't even think of checking there.
  • Hi issachs did your 128kb iTunes purchased songs get converted to 256kb and stay as the purchased iCloud status or did they change to Matches iCloud status Thanks
  • Maybe you could add a bit in the section "If you use both Apple Music and iTunes Match":
    When should I cancel iTunes Match? How do I cancel Match? Can I cancel iTunes Match immediately and get my money back or do I have to wait for the end of the subscription even if it will be in December so I have to pay for many months for nothing?
  • Hey there! I'd wait until Apple announces the rollout's completion before cancelling Match. Here's our how-to on that front (and yes, you can get a portion of your money back if you email Apple Support):
  • so, does this mean i can move remixes/somgs not on itunes/apple
    music to my devices and not just my computer? Sent from the iMore App
  • Yup! You've always been able to do that via iCloud Music Library's "upload" feature.
  • Thanks for the great article and explanation. I am an Apple Music and iTunes Match subscriber and My account has been converted - and now it is very clear what the status of each song is and Apple Music songs are clearly labeled. This is what Apple Music should have done from the beginning - they had the iTunes Match capability when Apple Music launched - this would have saved a lot of headaches and eliminated some of the bad reports Apple Music got early on with folks with large libraries. I cannot understand why they launched without this. That said, glad they've implemented this change..
  • issachs, how can you tell that your account has been converted? I too have both Apple Music and iTunes Match, so songs are already shown as "Matched" in iTunes on my Mac.
  • My songs are all listed accurately by purchased, matched, Apple Music, etc. I don't recall that it was accurate previously, so that's why I think it has been converted.
  • Thanks! I'll check to see what the status is in my library.
  • Hey Serenity. Thank you for another fantastic and in depth apple music report!
    I lost a tone of tracks last year when my music was mistakenly uploaded as 'apple music' (with DRM) instead of 'matched' (I've always paid for both services). Does this new policy apply to tracks already stored in iCloud Music Library? Thanks again!
  • Yes, it does! As long as you have your original files on your Mac, everything should be done automatically; if for whatever reason you're not seeing things matched accurately, you may have to reset iCloud Music Library as a worst-case.
  • Do you know if people that are Apple Music subscribers but not Match users have seen this conversion from Apple Music to Uploaded or Matched? I heard they'd be through everyone by the end of August, but I'm still sitting on the incorrect Apple Music status for 50GB+ of live recordings that are incorrectly matched to the studio versions of these songs. Here's a discussion on my saga...
  • This conversion has not come to me yet either (Apple Music user). I have 15,000 songs (14,000 my own from CDs, iTunes store, etc. and 1,000 from Apple Music). iCloud Music Library has matched 14,000 of my songs with an iCloud Status of "Apple Music" instead of "Matched", "Purchased", or "Purchased". None of my iTunes purchased songs have an iCloud Status of "Purchased" - they all say Apple Music. I e-mailed iTunes about it and spoke to the supervisor. He has no idea how to fix it. It's not an issue right now but will be in the future if I lose my local copies of my music.
  • "However, all subscribers to Apple Music will get the new version of iTunes Match at no extra cost." Well, except I own both iTunes Match and Apple Music, and I just got a notice that my ITM subscription will renew for $24.99 in 2 weeks. Have not been able get Apple Support to answer my question about this.
  • I let my iTunes Match subscription expire last week. I have had it since the day it launched. I have also had Apple Music since the day that launched. My music that was previously listed as "Matched" is still listed as Matched today, 4 days after Apple sent me an email that iTunes Match had expired. Not trying to give an official answer, but that is what I am seeing today.
  • Thought it was worth sharing this following email I just got from Apple Support reiterating that the Apple Music/iCloud Music Library combined service is not all we understood, or that their own website claimed... they still will not allow Apple Music subscribers to upgrade old 128k DRM purchases, only iTunes Match subscribers (and they even seem confused about that!). And instead of fixing the anomaly, they plan to remove the reference on their website. Does any Apple Music subscriber know differently for a fact? Hi Paul, Thank you for your email and apologies for the delayed response. We have received confirmation from our Engineering Department that this is definitely expected behavior. They have checked in details the list of tracks you mentioned on previous emails and they are all DRM-protected which is why they cannot be converted to 256k. I have sent a feedback to the appropriate group to change information on the FAQ section of Apple Music as this does not actually offers the same benefits of iTunes Match. After double checking everything with them they have advised to explain that even iTunes Match may not do precisely what you are looking for. If you have a match with a DRM-free version, you will get access to the upgraded version but it is technically not removing DRM. If you have to upload a song that is DRM protected it will not be changed from the original. I understand that this is not the answer you were looking for Paul but as of now this service is definitely not something Apple Music, or in some cases, iTunes Match can offer. We would like you to submit a feedback about this as we carefully read them and take them into consideration. This is definitely an opportunity for us to improve our service.
  • Thanks for that information about drm protection. However...... I use a dj app called, surprisigly, djay on my ipad. Its a simple but powerful bit of kit that can access & load all the songs/music from my Music library. Most of those that I want to use in Djay were ripped from CDs before I took out my monthly Music subscription with Apple. But, and it's a big but, nearly all the tracks in my library (many of which i 'own' on CD) wont load into or play in Djay. I get a message about them being drm protected. A few randomly will load (not sure why) & all the music I've purchased via iTunes will load. Bizarrely the version of Djay I have on my mac mini doesn't seem to be so bothered about drm protection but wont let me load some songs I've bought on itunes, as I'm told that my mac mini is not authorised to play them, though itunes says it is. Mostly, well always, I dj using my ipad. The drm protection thing is, to put it midly, very annoying, as it means that I can't use around 95% of my music in Djay & Music is fairly rubbish at mixing tracks. Well it just doesn't do it. Any suggestions or help on how to solve this would be most useful. Maybe Apple just hasn't got round to taking the drm protection off my tracks........or maybe something else is going on. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
  • Thank you for sharing the article, but I prefer to use Applemacsoft DRM Converter software, it makes me very easy to remove drm from Apple Music on Mac.