Apple Posts iTunes Match Setup Guide, FAQ

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Apple has posted a new webpage for iTunes Match that includes a setup guide, a FAQ, and a description of how the service works. The information should come in handy for both experienced Apple customers and the millions of new customers who got Apple devices during the holidays.

Apple makes all of the music you purchase on iTunes available to all of your iTunes-enabled devices and computers for free through what Apple calls “iTunes in the Cloud.” iTunes Match is a paid service (US$24.99 per year) that matches this functionality for all of your music, no matter where you got it.

The service was launched with a few hiccups—though it has generally been rated higher than competing services from Amazon and Google—and the new webpage lays out what the service does and how to set it up much more clearly than before.

To wit, from the How iTunes Match Works section:

iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to iCloud for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 20 million songs in the iTunes Store, chances are your music is already in iCloud. And for the few songs that aren’t, iTunes uploads what it can’t match (which is much faster than uploading your entire music library). Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.

The Getting Started section includes concise instructions and screenshots to help users get the service going.

iTunes Match Getting Started

Apple’s iTunes Match Getting Started Guide
(Click the image for a larger version)

The FAQ includes ten questions (Who can use iTunes Match? Which music formats can iTunes Match handle? How many devices can iTunes Match support? Will my playlists sync across devices? etc.), with very clear and concise answers.

Thanks to 9to5Mac and AppleBitch for the heads up on the new site.

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Ross Edwards

The page doesn’t say much that OCD-inclined Matchers will want to know, but it’s probably good enough for the 80-85% of usual consumers.  I credit them for finally settling, in plain print, the issue of whether your “songs go away” if you stop subscribing.  (They don’t.)

I spent months carefully re-ripping, pruning, and tagging my library, assuming the matching mechanism would be some combination of LaLa waveform analysis, file length, and metadata checking.  My work was fruitful; today, in a library of ~12k songs, I have ~1500 purchased, ~500 of my own bands’ work (not matchable), ~1000 in music DVD soundtrack rips (matching unlikely as most are 48k not 44.1k), and ~1500 from bootlegs (matching VERY unlikely).  Out of the ~7500 songs remaining, with a total pool of let’s say ~7700 matchable songs, 6994 are matched.  91% successful.  That’s a damn sight better than the 40%-60% matching ratios people are posting over on MacRumors.  But it took a lot of work to make that happen.

The best part, though, was that I edited the metadata for albums like Queensryche Empire (1990) to match the metadata of the Empire 20th Anniversary Edition from 2010.  iTunes matched my tracks from the 1990 original version of the album to the 20th Anniversary version, and I got to upgrade all my tracks for free.  (Though I don’t have the bonus tracks, and match doesn’t get you a Complete My Album on that basis… yet.)  One surmises if the waveform is “close enough,” the file length and metadata are the deciding factors.


@Ross Great stuff!  Thanks for sharing your experiences.

I finally signed up for iTunes Match after coming across some articles from MacWorld that eased my fears about signing up - such as the aformentioned “songs go away” scenario and how it would handle the songs that I haven’t upgraded to iTunes Plus.

My initial reaction was that the service was great mainly for what it really is - iTunes in the cloud.  The “match” part of iTunes match is really just a small part of it.  But being able to access AND EDIT my entire iTunes library from multiple computers is important to me.  Heck if I would have known how well it would have worked, I may have skimmed down on my last iPhone purchase from 32GB to 16 GB. 

I only matched 66% of my songs, of which maybe 10% really shouldn’t match at all (ballpark figure).  Not bad but still room for improvement.

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