iTunes Match: all your music synced to all your devices via iCloud

iTunes Match, another iCloud app, will basically function as a locker for your iTunes library. If you have music that isn't purchased from iTunes, it will match the media in your library with content available in iTunes and allow you to stream it to your devices wirelessly. (What happens if something you have isn't available in iTunes? Do you still need to sync it?)

Apple is saying this process will only take minutes, not hours. All the content will be DRM free and have the same benefits of purchased music. Any songs will be matched and upgraded to 256kbps AAC DRM-free files.

This part of iCloud won't be free, however. It'll cost you $24.99/year. I think this is pretty reasonable for what the service will offer. What do you guys think?

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • iCloud finally announced.
  • Will this be $24.99 per account or if lets say me and wife have 2 different accounts, we can combine all our music and only pay $25/year, instead of $50/year?
  • @Ally
    11:55 am iTunes matched songs upgraded to 256kbps AAC DRM-free
    -->> 11:55 am Any songs that remain, you can upload. <<--
    11:54 am Library is scanned and matched.
  • So.... Even the music I "acquired" elsewhere, will be available? That seems like incredible value!
  • "Apple is saying this process will only take minutes, not hours (obviously, since it’s streaming, not downloading)."
    you are misunderstanding this.
    the matched songs are downloadable as drm free high quality acc files or streamable to your device.
    but the only takes minutes thing is something different. that's because you don't have to upload your entire collection, as itunes scans your songs to ID them and matches them with itunes content already up on the server.
  • Not streamable. There is no streaming from iCloud.
  • But do you have to maintain the fee every year if you dont keep adding MP3 to the collection, is it a one time action or do you have to keep paying to keep access to the matched music?
  • it sounds like you can pay once, then download all the drm free acc files to your computer - however if you do that you lose the cloud storage aspect of the deal.
  • SO if I download 320kbps MP3s it will downgrade to 256kbps AAC...
  • I'm no expert. But how does a 320 mp3 compare to a 256 aac? I thought the acc codec was more advance then the mp3 codec.
  • Apple just wants u to think AAC is better.
  • Well, according to what they say, AAC is supposed to be twice the quality of MP3 meaning it only needs to be about half the bit rate for the same quality.
  • that's what "they" (apple) say. Look up comparisons between AAC and MP3, the difference is negligible at 160kbps or more.
  • Yeah, pay me $25 and I will let you listen to the music you already own.
    What's the value of that. It's a blank tape tax.
  • you also get cloud storage for all the music you already have, which at 2 dollars a month isn't a bad deal.
  • not a good deal if you're fine with paying subscription fees for every little thing. I just don't want to pay more money for what they are offering.
  • if that's what you think it is, you'll probably never understand.
    i have nearly 20,000 songs in itunes -- 2/3 of which was NOT purchased from apple. i also have 5 macs, an ipad, and an iphone. each time i purchase (or grab from a CD) a song, i have to jump through hoops to determine where that song will exist.
    now, for $24.99, apple will scan my THOUSANDS of songs, and for the ones in its database (they are the #1 music retailer, so they have a lot), i never have to worry about syncing to one device or another. or to one computer or another. everything i own is ALWAYS available on ALL devices.
    if, to you, that's tantamount to "pay me $25 and I will let you listen to the music you already own," then so be it. for many of us, this is the "solution of the future" for which we've been waiting for YEARS. and $24.99 is a STEAL.
  • Yeah, and every time you want to listen to it, you must download, because there is no streaming from iCloud. We all assume there is because Amazon and Google offered that, but Apple never mentioned it. There is simply no streaming, just download. Still feel the same way about it?
  • Yes, because I have a huge library of songs on my laptop, an almost entirely different library of songs on my desktop, and even different ones on my wifes laptop. For $25 dollars I can sync my entire meta-library into one easily accessible library. Having to download the songs, if thats even the case, is entirely negligible.
  • Wow, a great new service that most people will not be able to use due to bandwidth caps from ATT and Verizon. Apple needs to demand that iOS devices have unlimited data plans. It's the only thing that will make iCloud and such data-centric services usable.
  • i think you will be surprised how little bandwidth this will require.
    uploads are all only the changes. all the uploads seem to happens only over wifi or from your mac/pc anyway.
    the downloads are mostly single download sync up file updates here and there, since you still store a ton of stuff locally.
  • Streaming to your device requires quite a bit of bandwidth...
  • this isn't really a streaming service.
    it is a syncing and backup service, emphasis on the syncing aspect.
    the only time you are likely to be streaming is if the song you're listening to isn't on your phone's local storage.
    the stuff you listen to the most stays stored locally, as usual. it's just that if you do want to listen to something from your back catalog you can download it easily.
    and i'd guess it keeps the downloaded track around locally, so if you listen to it repeatedly it isn't downloaded over and over again. it just gets added to your collection.
  • iCloud isn't a streaming service, it's a backup and syncing service. It sounds like certain data heavy operations like backup and restoration may only be possible over WiFi and as for syncing you could wait until your iOS device has a WiFi connection to sync songs, etc.
  • If I'm not mistaken, from what was said my impression is that certain things won't be pushed unless there is wifi. I could be mistaken/they could have been talking about something else.
  • Will the cloud be able to determine pirated music?
    Not saying I do that kinda thing. Just asking the question.
  • not worth it. i already paid for my music i'm not paying again for them to store. plus i didn't buy my collection from itunes. none of it. so i'm not looking to pay money again for a service. not sure if this is true but one blog mentioned no streaming, only wifi. I mean if that's the case i just don't care about this. Plus my stuff is at minimum 320. i don't want really want it downgraded. and what about the data costs if it's not over wifi, cause i have no use if it's only wifi anyways. But endlessly sending data to sync docs, apps etc isn't what i want to pay for. But i'm yet to see a use for the music locker thing if i have to pay again to use music not from itunes.
  • if apple offered cloud storage for all your songs for 2 dollars a month, would you pay?
    because that's all this is, not "paying for your music twice".
    you can go to amazon and upload all your files for a higher annual fee and longer upload times and no itunes integration.. or do it with apple.
    "paying twice" isn't the right way to think about it. the service is merely another form of cloud storage that uses apple's extensive music catalog in order to expedite the process and make everything more efficient.
  • FYI, music bought from Amazon MP3 is stored in your locker for free.
  • so is music bought from itunes.
    stuff bought straight from itunes has free could storage built in .. the charge is only for non-itunes purchased stuff.
    similar set-up as amazon from the user perspective, just less expensive and faster via itunes.
  • "if apple offered cloud storage for all your songs for 2 dollars a month, would you pay?"
    NO NO NO NO!
    No i wouldn't. I don't need more people in my pocket on a monthly basis. This isn't a service that's important to me. I'd rather be able to stream from my home honestly. i ripped my own cds. i'm not buying from itunes. 22000+ songs. It matters not to me what amazon or google charge. I'd rather just have more local storage.
    The last question in the article above is "what do you think?"
    Well i think i'm not interested in paying to listen to music i already own.
  • Apple, keep your $24.99.
    I'll use ooTunes and stream my music from my pc at home for free. Plus I don't have to worry about music that was ill-gotten.
    I am listening to my music streamed from my pc now. aaahh. Sounds great!
  • Yeah but you have to keep your computer running with ootunes.
    Ill bet if you have a big enough computer you will spend more then 25 bucks a year keeping it on all the time.
    My take on itunes match is you wouldnt have to have a computer on.
  • I keep it on anyway since I also use logmein. Can use it if the pc is off.
  • i'm with you. i'll keep my $24 bucks.
  • wow for 2 dollars a month people are really btching about having the ability to play ALL your music to your iphone? wow you people annoy the f out of me.
  • oh and i already use orb media for this too, but for it to be almost flawlessly synced to iphone ill pay 2 bucks. u cheapskates.
  • Excuse me, but there is no syncing being done with the music. Think streaming, NOT syncing. Syncing your iPhone will be free. STREAMING music to yuor iPhone will be $24.99.
    And I don't mind paying $24.99 for value-added services. To me, this doesn't add any value.
    And I would appreciate you NOT calling me cheap. If you want to throw away your money on somethng you already have, that is YOUR decision. Just because i don't agree, doesn't make me cheap. It is simply a matter of perspective.
    Thank you very much.
  • Not streaming, there is no streaming in iCloud.
  • I don't think you understand how iCloud and the iTunes Match service is working.
  • That was to Mike, not Frank.
  • $2 for something you don't want or need is $2 too much. Most people aren't like you and interested in burning money. it's about value. Everytime there is new service offered by some company people love to say but it's just such and such a cost. The problem is that's just more on top of all the other stuff you're playing for or someone is asking for, electricity bill, cable bill, netflix bill, hulu, xbox live subscription, cell phone, cell phone data premium, mortgage, car note, car insurance, flood fire home insurance, food, college savings for kids, clothes for kids, kid sports team equipment costs, etc. Yeah when every company wants to release something with one more monthly fee, yeah $2 matters. In a time when people earn a lot less money and there are a lot less jobs, yeah $2 matters so a huge amount of people. And this is just very low. I got hard drives. i don't need Apple to back up my stuff.
    you annoy the f out of us too.
  • +1
    some people just don't think before they open their mouth, put pen to paper or finger to keyboard.
    We're all individuals with individual preferences.
  • ..however that doesn't mean I don't think iCloud seems like a good service, I just don't think anyone has the right to call someone they don't personally know a cheapskate.
  • So it wasn't clear to me... will we be able to live-stream music over 3G/WIFI or must it be downloaded to our iDevices first? I'm hoping for live streaming to cut down on storage required on my iphone/ipads.
  • I certainlly HOPE is it streaming. Why would I upload my music to the cloud only to ahve it eventually reside on my iPhone. I wuold just sync from my PC to my iPhone. Would be faster. lol
  • Well Steve made it a point that you won't need to sync via wire with a pc. I followed along with the engadget live blog and listening via streaming was NOT specifically mentioned.
  • it should end up being a combination of both.
    what you have room for will be stored locally.
    what you don't have room for will be available from the cloud if you need it.
    your most regularly listened to tracks will stay local, the other will not. this will dramatically reduce the amount of space you will need for music on your device.
    sure, you could stream EVERYTHING to your device but even for your own sake the performance would be poor and you'd be killing you battery.
  • Download, not streaming. People are not getting this, there is NO STREAMING from iCloud, just download.
  • Yeah, I did more digging and this does NOT STREAM! I'd be willing to pay $100 per year to stream. Since I don't purchase music from itunes store it will be less hassle to just continue to sync my music via usb from itunes to all my iDevices.
    I guess I'm stuck streaming with Zumocast!
  • Anyone bitching about $25 a year for this amazing service is a cheapass. Simple as that. Sign me up as soon as possible!
  • You have that right. If you can't handle that cost for the value you are getting what the heck are you doing here in this thread. Seriously - all my music matched, and the ones that don't I can still upload? For $25?
    I'd pay hundreds for that.
  • What if you have mp3 audiobooks, will it match those too? I have almost as many of those as music??
  • Comment system breaks links
  • How is the match accomplished? Presumably through id3 tags, but how? Exact match of all tags? Partial? What does Apple do with the list of songs it cannot match? I bet the labels would love to have that information. If it is simple tagging, how long before people learn to game that system?
  • This service may just make me an iTune user. I've been looking for a quick and painless way to convert my 400+ cd library that I ripped in wma format to a universal format like mp3 or aac. iTune Match just may be the way to do it and store my music collection in the cloud so I don't have to worry about a hard drive crash!
    Right now I have a couple of questions:
    1. Will iTunes Match give me a report of songs that they cannot match? I need this so that I can find the cds and re-rip them in AAC format.
    2. Will I be able to sync from the cloud to my computer without going thru iTune? Is there a reason to do this?
    3. Will iTunes Match store my playlist or do I have to re-create them in iTunes?
  • What does $25 a year buy you... storage 25000 of your non-iTunes 'bought' music files in a data center with managed redundancy. This is a reasonable price. Period. It is no different than you buying a nice little raid array for home if that's your thing. iCloud doesn't care if you got them illegally or not, the record companies have realized the cat is out of the bag and will take a cut of the iCloud revenue to offset the piracy losses (which were never as big as they claimed.) You wanted a way to sync iTunes across multiple devices? Here it is and 'it just works!' You could pay one year, sync up all the PCs in your house and then just buy from iTunes. Of course, if you don't want to, don't!
  • I see everybody here is assuming that iCloud does streaming, and that you wil be able to listen to your music directly. Not so, and this was adroitly avoided during the presentation. iCloud stores your music for you, but to listen you must download, every megabyte in its 256kbps glory.
  • I don't care about the streaming. I don't stream music. What I care about is converting my 400+ library(WMA) to mp3 or aac and having a backup of my music in the clouds!
  • I can't wait to read the terms and conditions of icloud.
    Hopefully they won't sell our information to record labels.
  • Of course I'll pay for it! Duh!
  • let me get this straight any music files i have that arent acc and 256 vbr they will be recreated to be acc and 256? what happens when i cancel this service does all the upgraded music stay on my computer ipod ipad iphone etc? also this isnt a streaming service so i am paying 24.99 to backup and store all the music i have per year? do i have all this right? this part of it makes no sense to me and if you dont have unlimited data how will this work?
  • This will help free some space from my tight 32 gig capacity.
  • No it won't! To listen to music the file must reside on your device. There is NO live-streaming.
  • Cant belive so many people saying 24.99 is a rip off for having what could be 1000s of songs backed up and many upgraded. Yet they are prob the same people paying £39.99 or £69.99 a year (xboxlive) + £20-50 per game to play something they already own online and that seems fine with them. Fact is everybody else is charging more and even google will soon, and if you cant afford 24.99 a year then don’t have it simple as that, and should you even be getting a phone like the iphone 4 or 5. And can anybody really say 100% there wont be no streaming once iphone 5 + IOS5 are out in the full.
  • I think the price should be lowered based on the amount of titles you need to match and the frequency you use the service. Why should some pirate that got thousands of bootleg audio get to pay 24.99 to legitimize their stash and continue to download and match more pirate mp3 files and someone like me who only got couple hundred songs from my CDs pay the same amount?
  • Hi I have about 500 albums from years ago , am i to understand that if I were to buy a turn table and download these old albums to my Mac , for $25 they all would be brought up to the cloud and then downloaded back to my mac with a digital upgrade, sounds like a great deal if it works like this . I was wondering if anyone could clarify this for me . Thanks
  • How about letting us use iCloud without snooping into our files? If I want to put my files on iCloud, who's business is it what type of files, whether mp3, or anything else, they are? I won't use iCloud if they mandate the song matching garbage. Apple keep your grubby hands off of my mp3 files!
    Can we refuse to use the music match part of iCloud? Or are we forced to pay them to upload mp3s?
  • I say spotify or grooveshark
  • I do think that is a pretty good price. Some of us got stuck with the 16gb and have 18gb of music on their iTunes. I'm not complaining, I'm just glad that came up with a resolution.
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