This summer, Apple changed its Apple Music subscription service to include iTunes Match functionality as part of the $9.99 subscription: As such, all users who subscribe to Apple Music have access to Match's matching algorithms, and more importantly, DRM-free iCloud copies of their Mac's local tracks. As of October, every Apple Music subscriber should have access to proper matching, but if you're still seeing the "Apple Music" status on your local Mac tracks, here's how to fix it.

What exactly is matching?

Essentially, it's a feature of Apple's iCloud Music Library that lets you quickly and easily access your Mac's local music (previously purchased on other services, ripped from CDs, home recorded, and the like) on all your other devices. If you have a copy of Taylor Swift's 1989 on your iMac and enable iCloud Music Library, you'll be able to play and download it on your iPhone, iPad, and other Macs. Apple could make your Mac upload every song in 1989 to do this, but it would take time — and much of your precious internet bandwidth. Instead, Apple scans the album using a process called audio fingerprinting to compare the audio signatures of the tracks to the millions of tracks in the iTunes Store catalog. If it finds a match, it'll link the two in your iCloud Music Library: Thus, instead of having to upload your copies of 1989, you'll instead be downloading or streaming the iTunes Store's copies when listening on another device.

Better still, the iTunes Store offers DRM-free 256kbps AAC files; as such, you're always getting a high-quality download whether you're listening on your iPhone or downloading to a new Mac. And because you own the original copy of those files, the redownloads of those files are still yours — even though they're technically matched iTunes Store versions of your original files.

How does matching work for Apple Music subscribers?

Previously, Apple Music offered matching for your Mac's tracks, but this process used simple metadata matching rather than audio fingerprinting, and connected tracks to Apple Music's streaming catalog; in doing so, tracks frequently got mismatched, and furthermore, any re-downloaded tracks (or tracks downloaded to other devices) would show up as having Apple Music's FairPlay DRM on them. 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.

As a result of those errors and the company generally wanting to simplify the process, Apple Music now matches tracks the same way its $24.99/year iTunes Match service does: via audio fingerprinting to the DRM-free iTunes Store catalog. This means that if you previously had both an Apple Music and iTunes Match subscription, you only need to keep Apple Music to have your local tracks properly match to iTunes Store versions in iCloud Music Library.

If you're not sure how your songs are being stored in iCloud, here's how to check if your songs are matched, uploaded, purchased, or Apple Music DRM-laden.

How to force iCloud Music Library to rescan your library

There are a few options to force iCloud Music Library to rescan your tracks and catalog them appropriately. I've listed them in order of difficulty; if the first option doesn't work, you can try subsequent options.

Before attempting any of these options, please make sure you have a full offline backup of your iTunes library (with luck, you should have done this before enabling iCloud Music Library in the first place).

Option 1: Update iCloud Music Library

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Go to File > Library > Update iCloud Music Library.

Apple will then rescan your tracks, and with luck, categorize them appropriately.

Option 2: Create a secondary iTunes library to force iCloud Music Library to rescan

  1. Follow steps 1-5 on this page to create a secondary iTunes Library for iCloud Music Library.
  2. After iCloud Music Library finishes loading, it should display any Mac-matched tracks as Matched. (If it doesn't, move on to Option 3.)
  3. Quit iTunes.
  4. Option-click when relaunching iTunes and select your original library.

Option 3: Manually rescan your iCloud Music Library

If nothing else is working, you can force iCloud Music Library to do a manual rescan by deleting everything in that repository. Note: If you go this route, your local files won't be affected, but you'll get rid of any Apple Music tracks or albums you've saved to iCloud. Do this at your own risk.

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Select Music from the dropdown menu on the left side of the iTunes window, then select the Library tab and Songs under the left column.

  3. Select all your music in Songs view (use Command-A on the keyboard).
  4. Press the Delete key on your keyboard.
  5. Click on the Delete Items option to remove these tracks from iCloud Music Library. (Do not, under any circumstances, click Remove Downloads — this will move all your local music to the trash, rather than delete songs from iCloud.)

  6. Go to File > Library > Update iCloud Music Library. If you get a dialog box querying what you'd like to do with songs already on your other devices, choose Replace.


Hopefully this helps those of you who are still having iCloud Music Library errors; if not, check out my other myriad articles on iCloud Music Library, Apple Music, and iTunes Match, leave a comment here, or contact Apple Support.

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