Blog

Understanding Apple Music and iTunes Match

posted 8 May 2016, 02:41 by Kurian Thampy   [ updated 29 Aug 2017, 07:41 ]

Update
Apple Music's behaviour has changed. Now, Uploaded and Matched tracks can be downloaded DRM free like iTunes Match. You no longer need an iTunes Match subscription if you're subscribed to Apple Music.



This is a breakdown of how iTunes Match and Apple Music work, and what happens to your library when using them. You can make the most of these services by taking the time to understand exactly how they function.

Start with an iTunes library that contains a mix of imported tracks and purchased tracks.​ After activating iTunes Match or Apple Music, you can enable a new iCloud Status column in the library to help identify tracks. iTunes' behaviour varies depending on which services you've subscribed to.

​iTunes Match Only
  • Upon activation, iTunes scans the library and either matches or uploads tracks. The iCloud Status column changes to either Matched or Uploaded. Purchased tracks remain as Purchased. At this point all the tracks in the library are your original files (including Matched tracks).
  • Now you can use iTunes Match to get DRM-free, iTunes Plus quality versions of Matched tracks by clicking Remove Download to delete the original files and then downloading them from Apple. You should backup the original files first because this is where things start to go wrong.
  • A small percentage of Matched tracks downloaded from Apple are either a different version of the track, from a different album, the wrong track altogether, or have incorrect artwork. If you manually correct the tags or artwork, the corrected data will persist even if you remove and redownloaded the track again. For incorrectly matched tracks or partially matched albums, there are ways to force it to upload instead of match. Once you've done this for all your tracks, you should have a perfect library with iTunes Plus quality, correct tags, and fully matched or fully uploaded albums that retain their volume level and gapless playback.
  • After doing the above, if you download your entire library on a new computer or iOS device, it should be a perfect copy of the library. However if you simply activate iTunes Match on one computer and then downloaded everything on another computer, you will end up with some incorrectly matched tracks, and partially matched albums with non-uniform volume levels and broken gapless playback.
  • Everything downloaded with iTunes Match is DRM-free. Anything uploaded with iTunes Match remains in the original format (WAV, Apple Lossless) and can be downloaded again without transcoding.

iTunes Match and Apple Music

  • Everything from the iTunes Match Only section is still valid. iTunes Match functionality takes precedence over Apple Music.
  • Everything downloaded from Apple Music has DRM and the iCloud Status column will say Apple Music.
  • Tracks will never match or upload via Apple Music after you activate iTunes Match.
  • Tracks matched or uploaded via Apple Music prior to activating iTunes Match will still download with DRM and be transcoded to AAC. You must backup these original files, delete the tracks from iCloud Music Library, and match or upload them once again after activating iTunes Match. Even if the local library says Uploaded (implying iTunes Match), it's uncertain whether the original files were uploaded via Apple Music before activating iTunes Match. In my experience, the iCloud Status column changed to Uploaded even though the track was initially uploaded via Apple Music and not iTunes Match. If you remove and redownload download such tracks, they will be replaced with Apple Music DRM versions. This is how most people lose their original files.
  • If you're uncertain, it's best to backup your original files, clear out your library, and start over with both iTunes Match and Apple Music activated.
  • If you download your library on a new computer or iOS device, it should be a perfect copy of the library, provided you followed the previous instructions.

Apple Music Only

  • Upon activation, iTunes scans the library and either matches or uploads tracks. The iCloud Status column always changes to Apple Music for matched, uploaded, and downloaded Apple Music tracks. Purchased tracks remain as Purchased. At this point all the tracks in the library are your original files (including matched and uploaded tracks with a status of Apple Music).
  • If you remove and redownload anything, it will be replaced with an Apple Music DRM version (and transcoded to AAC if it was an upload).
  • If you download your library on a new computer or iOS device, everything will download as Apple Music DRM versions transcoded to AAC.
  • Never use Remove Download on your primary library unless you want to delete the original file (and be left with only the Apple Music version).

1-1 of 1