Have you been hesitant about upgrading to iTunes Match? Are you not sure how it works? Is it really worth spending $24.99 of your own hard earned money? Well, I am here to tell you a resounding YES to all of these questions. I did it, and it couldn’t be easier to do. However, before jumping into any endeavor like this you always want to make a full backup of your iTunes Library. You might also be asking, “Well I have multiple computers in my house that share an iTunes account; will I have to spend $24.99 on each computer?” The answer is NO. I will explain this process a little later. So sit down, buckle up, and get ready to move your iTunes Library into “iCloud”.
I would like to start out and say that iTunes Match is not a “Streaming” service, it is a matching service. It will match what you currently have in your iTunes Library and match it to iCloud. Then from your computer or your iOS devices you can easily and readily download your music. Maybe in the future this will become a streaming service, but for now it is simply a matching service.
Now with that out of the way; I had mentioned earlier that you will want to make a full backup of your iTunes Library before proceeding. Depending on the size of your library this can take five minutes or five hours. In my case it took the latter to make a full backup. If you are using a Mac you will want to copy the folder “ITunes” under the “Music” folder. Simply drag the “iTunes” folder over to an external or network drive that you have access to. Now if you are running iTunes on a Windows computer your “iTunes” folder can be located in different locations depending on if you are using Windows XP, Vista, or 7. What you will want to look for is the “My Music” folder; this is generally stored in the My Documents folder. Once you locate this folder you can do the same procedure as mentioned above for the Mac.
Now that you have your library safely backed up you can proceed with matching your iTunes Library with iCloud. You will notice in iTunes a new category under “Store” in iTunes labeled “iTunes Match”. You will want to click on this. You will then be asked if you want to subscribe to iTunes Match. Here is where you click on the “Subscribe” button, and here is where you will be charged $24.99 for the service. If you have a balance for you iTunes Gift Card; that will be used instead of your credit card. When the matching process is complete it will tell you that your music is now in iCloud, and that it is accessible from all of your iOS devices.
The benefit of having your Library in iCloud is that no matter how you procured your music, or how it was encoded, be it 128Kbps or 192Kbps it will now be encoded at 256Kbps AAC format. So now your music will be at the highest current quality.
Moreover, if you want to bring those 256Kbps AAC high quality formatted songs back to your local iTunes Library Macworld has a great How-To on how to get those songs back into your local Library. Click here to read the How-To.
I also mentioned that if you have multiple computers with iTunes Libraries. All you have to do is simply click on “iTunes Match” and have it scan your library. If anything is missing it will upload it to iCloud.
One more thing I would like to talk about is how iCloud handles newly imported music, or music purchased on Amazon MP3. In either case when iTunes see new music in its library it will automatically upload it to iCloud. Then it will become available for download on all of your computers and iOS devices that have your iTunes account associated with it. There you go folks, that’s iTunes Match explained. If you have any questions, or if you have had a different experience, we would love to hear from you in our comments section below.