Apple has two subscription services: iTunes Match, and Apple Music. Both offer access to iCloud Music Library, the company's cloud-based music storage system, which lets you stream and download tracks from your Mac's music library on up to ten of your devices.
If you're curious about iTunes Match — what it is, why you'd use it, how to set it up, and how to ditch it for Apple Music — here's the skinny.
What is iTunes Match?
For $25 a year, Apple's iTunes Match service lets you match or upload up to 100,000 tracks from your Mac's library (or libraries) to iCloud Music Library, where you can then stream or download said tracks — DRM-free — to up to nine of your other devices (a total of 10). That's it: There aren't any weird quirks, hidden features, or other bonus options.
For more about iCloud Music Library and how that works:
What's the difference between iTunes Match and Apple Music?
Apple has two subscription services: Apple Music and iTunes Match. If you're considering getting into streaming music, want to listen to your Mac's music collection on all your devices, or you're simply wondering what that giant "Three months free!" banner is atop the Music app, here's everything you need to know about Apple's two subscription services and what each can offer you.
How do I sign up for iTunes Match?
After you subscribe to iTunes Match, you can stream or download any songs on up to ten of your devices, DRM-free — but before you get to do that, you need to sign up. Doing so is simple — you just need a Mac. Unfortunately, you can't sign up for iTunes Match on your iPhone or iPad.
How do I use iTunes Match if I have too many songs?
Want to use iCloud Music Library with iTunes Match or Apple Music but have too many songs? You will need to create a second iTunes library to get those extra songs uploaded. Here's how to create a sub-library to use with the service.
How do I see which songs are uploaded or matched?
Thanks to iTunes Match, your iCloud Music Library may contain songs you've purchased from iTunes, uploaded from your Mac, or matched to the iTunes Store catalog. With all of these different types of music files, it's easy to confuse how your songs are stored in iCloud. Here's a quick tip for seeing which is which.
How to unsubscribe or cancel iTunes Match
With the news that Apple is integrating iTunes Match's DRM-free track-matching functionality for Apple Music subscribers, those subscribed to both services may want to save the $25/year by turning off automatic renewal. Here's how you go about doing so on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
Let us know in the comments.
August 2019: Updated for Apple's latest software updates.
Serenity Caldwell contributed to an earlier version of this guide.
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.
Thanks for this great article. Do you have any idea about how/whether iTunes match can interact with Family Sharing? I've uploaded my library to iTunes match, and wonder if there's a way to let my family members have access to it, without them signing into iTunes as me.
Actually iTunes match subscription is not compatible with family sharing, instead apple encourages apple music subscription, since you can have 50 millions song in disposición instead of being limited in 100,000 songs, you can submit a feedback to apple on this feauture and how knows probably this service can be added in a close future.
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