Music

REVIEW: iTunes Match

by Winston "Stone" Ford

This week Apple released their newest creation, iTunes Match. The extension to the popular iTunes software is supposed to take what you have when your hard drive, no matter where you got it from, and uploads it to the cloud for instant use on all of your (recent) Apple devices. The premise it to design a seemless solution. It’s supposed to alleviate the hours of downloading so what that you would need to use similar services from Google Music or Amazon Cloud Storage, while giving you amnesty (and hopefully compensating artists) for songs not bought legally. Sounds like a great premise for $25 dollars a year.

So how does it match up? I gave it the ultimate test. My music collection, for the most part, consists of mixtapes, music from unsigned artists, and other obscure European stuff that quite simply is not available in iTunes library. So far, instead of “matching” all of my stuff, iTunes is uploading a majority of it, which now is taking almost 2 days. I want to give Apple the benefit of the doubt. Since everybody has been using iTunes match over the past few days, I can be sure that their servers are overloaded. Uploading only 170 out of tracks to the cloud has become an hours long affair, and honestly the experience is much different from from Google and Amazon. On top of that, you can’t manually determine what files to add, so a number of 150MB plus podcasts are slowing down the process.

The only saving grace is that once your songs are matched and in the cloud, it’s instantly available on your iOS devices. And when I mean instantly, I mean within seconds. The company has made great strides to build a seamless ecosystem, and the speed in which it operates is rather impressive. On my iPhone, you can stream songs instantly over wi-fi (or over a cellular network if activated), and cloud tracks are integrated into the current music player . You also have the option of downloading the track to your phone for when you’re on the go, similar to services like Spotify and Mog. Honestly, having this flexibility is the next wave of music.

But is iTunes Match worth it? Yes and no. Like any new piece of software there are bugs, and there are sill hurdles to getting your music into the cloud. Add to that the fact that you must have iOS5 for any this to work, so older iPod Touches and iPhones are left out in the cold. Also, if your device does not have an Apple logo on it, obviously this service is null and void.

But I do have to say that iTunes match is an interesting concept. If you have stacks and stacks of CDs or thousands of MP3s on your computer, it’s a great way to get your music on the go, and still feel a sense of ownership over your music collection.