Cloud Music and iTunes Match

November 16, 2011 By: erik Category: Geeky, Music 385 views

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iTunes MatchApple finally launched their iTunes Match service this week. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain briefly. In the eight years since Apple opened their iTunes Music Store, they have been amassing an enormous collection of digitized music that they have the legal right to sell. If you buy a song from them, and your computer crashes, you can redownload that song again whenever you like, since, rather than a physical medium like a CD, what you’ve bought is the right to have that digital file.

What Apple has done with iTunes Match is allow you (for $24.95/year) to redownload any song you have in your iTunes library, whether you bought it from Apple or not! This is huge, particularly since you can download songs – and they will start playing before the download finishes – to your mobile iOS devices, and because the files Apple provides are of very high quality (256-Kbps AAC), possibly better quality than the files you have in you library.

Today on my walk around town, when I hit “shuffle” on my iPhone, it chose a random song to play from my entire music collection, which, currently at 53 gigabytes, doesn’t even come close to fitting on my iPhone.

Of course this is a natural consequence of both higher wireless bandwidths and higher storage and retrieval capacities of enormous server farms (a.k.a. The Cloud). If your iDevice is always online with cloud computing, then the need for syncing data from your computer to your iDevice has pretty much vanished, if all the data is available on high bandwidth servers.

It’s pretty clear to me that the future revenue model of the music industry will be one of subscriptions to stream any music the subscriber desires (or to download with a small fee per track). The artists would receive a certain amount every time their song was streamed or downloaded. This is called the Open Music Model and is just what Spotify does.

For now, at least, to my mind conditioned to the current model of music ownership, iTunes Match is one of the coolest services I’ve used in a while. It’s definitely worth $24.95 of my money every November 15th.

iTunes Match

 
  • Paul

    Will you be deleting songs from your iDevices now and recovering that space?

    • http://erikras.com/?utm_source=disqus&utm_medium=profile&utm_campaign=Disqus%2BProfile Erik R.

      Good question. I already had a pretty limited playlist that was going to my iDevices, and I will retain some for the rare moments when I’m away from an internet connection.  But yes, iTunes Match does free up most of that space.

  • aquariumdrinker

    What distinguishes iMatch from the free services offered by Amazon and Google? (I suspect the answer is that you get more storage space than with Amazon (25GB) or Google (20,000 songs), but I am deeply lazy.) Is there a browser-based interface for iMatch, or do you need either iOS or iTunes to listen? Thanks for being my guide to the Apple world.

    • http://erikras.com/?utm_source=disqus&utm_medium=profile&utm_campaign=Disqus%2BProfile Erik R.

      iTunes Match is cheaper and doesn’t require any actual MP3 upload, since it’s just matching (hence the name) songs to the files Apple already has.

      http://zapp5.staticworld.net/images/article/2011/06/cloud-chart-5180584.gif

      As far as I know iTunes Match is pointless on the PC; it’s only useful to access music on your PC from a mobile device (or Apple TV). I did test, however, whether I could add an album to iTunes, have it sync to iCloud/iTunes Match and then delete the album and still have it available, and sure enough, it asked me when I was deleting whether I wanted to remove it from my iCloud account as well. So, in theory, you could have more songs available from iTunes Match than would even fit on your PC.

      At the moment, Apple is winning the price and feature race, but I hope competition will drive down prices and drive up features all around.

      • aquariumdrinker

        I’m skeptical of that chart — I have 25GB on Amazon’s Cloud Player that I haven’t paid for. But maybe that was promotional or something. So with that skepticism noted, it is true that Google supports streaming and more file formats. And Google Music offers “just music” in the same way that the grocery section at Super Target offers “just groceries” — Google’s combined free services allow you to sync all the same stuff as iCloud. Anyhoo, I am Just Saying that it seems odd to say that “Apple is winning the price and feature race.”

        But different strokes and all. I can see how iMatch would be awesome if you had a slow internet connection, or if the music in your personal library was generally not up to the 256-Kbps AAC standard. What happens with the tracks in your library that don’t already exist in Apple’s cloud? Would those get uploaded, or would you still need a physical device or a third party service like Dropbox to make those files portable?

        • http://erikras.com/?utm_source=disqus&utm_medium=profile&utm_campaign=Disqus%2BProfile Erik R.

          Yes, you would need another hosting platform for audio files that do not have a business relationship with Apple. Bootlegs, anything by Girl Talk, etc.

          Did I mention iTunes Match works for audio books?

          Full disclosure…it took about 15 hours to completely “sync” my library with iCloud, so the “in minutes” claim Apple makes is relative, but it’s way faster than if I had to upload everything. I once tried a cloud-based backup solution, but it told me it was going to take upwards of a month to back everything up, so I decided to cancel it.

          • aquariumdrinker

            We use Mozy (we got in just before they rejiggered their pricing — it would not make sense for us to sign up at today’s rates), and we have about 550GB backed up, and the initial backup did in fact take more than two months.

            So did you work out an offsite storage solution?

  • Josh Grady

    Here’s an interesting breakdown on what artists get from streaming sales: http://uniformmotion.tumblr.com/post/9659997039/release-day-economics  Much of the blog is about the economics of an independent band, so it might well be of interest.

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