iTunes Music Match is a service offered by Apple to extend their reach into the music business even further than before. If you’re old enough, you may remember that there is another company called Apple, Apple Corps, in the music business. If you need a hint, think of the illustration in the center of your Beatles albums – one side was a green apple, the other was of the same apple sliced in half.
Back in 1978, Apple Corps sued Apple Computers over the name and finally settled in 1981 with a payment to Apple Corps and an agreement that Apple Computers would not enter the music market. At the time, apple was selling the Apple II Plus with coming with a whopping 48k of memory installed.
By way of understanding what 48k can hold, one minute of CD quality music runs about 1MB – compressed. The ability to play something as awesome as the Mario Brothers theme music was still a good four years away.
So, safe bet, Apple.
Music did, however, enter the picture eventually. In 2001, Apple launched a music management service you may have heard of. They called it iTunes, and 14 years later, almost everyone is still using it.
But I’m getting distracted. A couple of weeks ago, I decided that iTunes music match might be the best way for my family to manage our bloated and fragmented music collections. I was dubious.
I’ve had time to play with it a bit now and I thought it was a good time to check in. One thing Apple is known for is simplicity, unfortunately, iTunes is becoming so large, and managing so many types of media that this does get in the way of clarity. The other
con is that Apple Music is a separate service that provides instant access to a wealth of music following a model something more like Pandora or Spotify. I didn’t want that service, but I do find that Apple keeps asking me, “Is this what you’re looking for! Sign up for a three month trial today!” Frankly, that’s almost as annoying as Microsoft’s Clippy.
The cons break down to clarity. But a little bit of intuition and practice worked that out for me.
The pros are that every machine in our household now has access to our combined music collection. Further, each computer doesn’t have to duplicate this file space in its own storage because as long as you have an internet connection, you can stream anything in your library. If you expect that you won’t have internet, or you want to go on the road and not be hit with data limitations, you can download anything from the library to any of your devices and have it there when you need it later.
One thing I still have not figured out is an easy way to combine your music libraries in a way that eliminates duplicate files and makes it easier to get all of your music ‘Matched.’ There are third party organizers that will do this for you – some of them quite well (Wondershare TunesGo is one example), but having paid once to get your music organized, it’s not an attractive option to pay twice.Recall that my primary reason for subscribing to iTunes Match is to organize and combine our family’s music in one place that we can all access.
It’s entirely possible that Apple has solved this last problem already and I just don’t know it – however, that’s another problem in itself.
If Apple could help with the organization (perhaps have a ‘load library’ function where you can simply point to the various libraries you wish to add?) and make the iTunes Match a bit more distinct a function from Apple Music, I would become a hardcore fan. Presently, I would say, proceed with caution and know what you’re getting into. On a scale of 1-10, I call iTunes Match a 7.5, with a possibility of jumping up to 10 with a few tweaks.