Apple's iTunes Match now available; feature costs $24.99 a year
After delays, Apple's iTunes Match is now live.
For $24.99 a year, users can add music not purchased from iTunes -- such as songs imported from a CD or downloaded from other sources -- to his or her iCloud music collection. Music can then be played on any iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac or PC "whenever you want and wherever you are, without syncing," Apple said.
Here's the company's description of how it works:
"ITunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to iCloud for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 20 million songs in the iTunes Store, chances are, your music is already in iCloud. And for the few songs that aren't, iTunes has to upload only what it can't match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. Once your music is in iCloud, you can stream and store it to any of your devices. Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality -- even if your original copy was of lower quality."
As we reported previously, matching a user's iTunes library in the cloud takes just minutes, Apple says. By contrast, Google's Music Beta and Amazon's Cloud Player services require users to upload song files to "cloud lockers" themselves and offer no matching options.
In order to pull all this off, Apple reached large contracts with major record labels, agreeing to give them a share of the revenue from iTunes Match subscriptions. If iTunes Match users let their subscriptions run out and don't pay to re-up, their iCloud libraries would revert to just the songs they've bought from iTunes.
-- Andrea Chang
Image: ITunes Match will enable subscribers to access their music on multiple devices through iCloud. Credit: Apple