Apple seems to have tucked it away in 10 pt in the footer of iTunes Store’s Music section. If you read the description, is this not redundant when you consider Apple Music capabilities if you take the marketing for face value?
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of chatter about this online in detail, but it really needs clarification, because Apple has been nothing short of ambiguous about the difference between iTunes Match and Apple Music.
iTunes Match: $27.99/year
-Scans your library and if it matches your track with one in the iTunes Store, it will give you that track for free.
DISCLAIMER: Some have reported a replacement actually takes effect here in which the original track is actually replaced if a match is found, essentially deleting the original file. While this may be an oversight on Apple’s part, no artist should rely exclusively on iTunes without a hard backup outside of iTunes.
-If a track cannot be matched with the equivalent iTunes Plus 256 kbps quality version in the iTunes Store, it will automatically upload your actual track to iCloud (without using any of your iCloud storage) for a max of 50,000 (or is now 100,000?) tracks.
-Synch all of your music between devices.
-No access to Apple Music Radio stations or connecting with artists.
-After iTunes Match has completed processing (matching or uploading), you can delete your entire matched/uploaded library items – your own tracks handled in some way by iTunes Match. Right click and add the columns “iCloud Download” and “iCloud Status.” The iCloud Download” will show a cloud with an arrow if it is not in your iTunes library on your computer but will be blank if it is. Anything without a blank you can delete and, and it will display the following message indicating that you can safely delete them (see attached). The track will still appear there, but with a cloud and arrow. You can either click that to download it back into your iTunes library, or keep in iCloud and play it by streaming the tracks with the cloud and arrow (not in your computer, but in iCloud)
So, you can either use a bit of internet data by steaming the track at the benefit of saving space on your hard drive, or you can download to your computer or devices for offline streaming.
APPLE MUSIC – $9.99/month or $$14.99/month for family plan (5 family members)
-Access to Apple Music Radio, curation of stations, connecting with artists
-Better tracks and audio quality than Spotify (subjective)
-Can say Love or Dislike tracks in Apple Music Radio to cater to your taste.
-Alone without iTunes Match, cannot synch all of your offline library of third-party tracks
-Allows you to laterally “Add” tracks within from the iTunes Store to your iCloud for streaming, or offline download to iTunes on an authorized computer or device.
-Too much Drake; setting iTunes
-This a streaming service and not a music management infrastructure as with iTunes Match matching/uploading/synching, so let’s not kid ourselves – you can synch your Apple Music Library but cannot synch your music imported into iTunes. iTunes Match has your back on that front, if you want to pay for it as well.
A a friend of mine pointed out, music matching is definitely not an exact science. Many have reported mismatches, such as with rare tracks that exist on multiple albums in the iTunes Store. Some tracks will simply not pass through iTunes Match because the digital rights management within the file will not allow it.
One thing is clear. Apple needs to market their services better to have greater product specifications, because Apple’s technology makes notion that “it just works” too ambiguous. Simply saying that iTunes Match and Apple Music are separate but work well together doesn’t help us understand how they function independently, but hopefully this guide helps shed some light.
Please comment below if you have anything to add.