Bottom line: I just made a quick post on Facebook to a friend that was considering purchasing an iTunes Match subscription, and it made me remember how I went back and forth regarding whether it would be worth my $25. I figured that a short review of my experiences would be well worth a blog post.

My recommendation for or against iTunes Match varies considerably depending on what devices you own, and I’ve tried to reflect this in my review.

Things that have been good about iTunes Match.

  1. It gives me a cloud-based backup for my 60 gigs of music.
    • While I have a local Time Machine backup, it’s nice knowing that I could lose both my computer and my backup without thousands of beloved songs that I’ve taken years to accrue.
    • If you already use a cloud-based backup, this won’t mean much to you.
    • My free Google Music account does make this less valuable.
    • The “Match” feature that lets you use the iTunes version (if available) instead of having to upload your local version works reasonably well and saves a ton of time.
    • I even freed up a few gigs on my local drive by uploading music I hardly ever listen to (recordings from choir groups I’d been in, things of that sort) and deleting my local copy from my Mac.
  2. It allows me to play my music across my devices.
    • I don’t usually sync music to my iPad due to space limitations (16gb), so this comes in handy every once in a while.
    • My Apple TV 2 can’t sync music (no HD), so Match allows me to stream my music to the aTV without having a local computer both on and running iTunes. This has been a big bonus.
  3. It upgraded my old tracks.
    • I had a ton of old music that I’d ripped from CDs back in the day. Some of these I ripped with horrible settings, and others had scratches or other annoyances that weren’t fixed in the ripping process. Being able to “Match” and upgrade these has been really nice.

Things I’ve that have not been good about iTunes Match.

  1. An iPhone bug that ate my data allowance.
    • Two months in a row, iTunes Match ate my entire data allowance on my iPhone in the first week of the month, even though I had it set to WiFi only. I even had to deal with a $10 overage charge, which is nearly half the price of Match itself!
  2. Turning Match on in the iPhone removes your ability to sync tracks locally and removes all your current music from your phone.
    • You have to manually download tracks from the cloud (finally figured out you can scroll to the bottom of a list of tracks and download all).
    • This means you have to re-download anything you’d previously synced or it won’t be available when you don’t have internet access.
    • Certain songs wouldn’t download and interrupted the “download this entire playlist” shortcut.
  3. The convoluted process to upgrade tracks.
    • Basically, you have to mess with your view settings to see what tracks you have locally and which are only on iCloud, then filter out the tracks that matched that you’d like to upgrade, then delete the local file, then redownload. There are a million “how-to” articles, give it a Google.
  4. The “clean version” bug.
    • This appears to have been fixed, but it was a bug that matched the clean version of a track, regardless of what version you originally had. This was an annoyance for many.

Those are the major points I have to relate regarding my iTunes Match experience, about 6 months in now. The “upgrading” feature really is a one-time deal. I’ve had so much trouble with my iPhone and Match that I’ve turned it off on that device, which allows me to sync locally again (thank goodness) and prevents further data bugs. I don’t foresee turning it back on for the iPhone anytime soon. On the other hand, the Apple TV streaming is probably the feature I like best. Overall, I’m glad I tried it for a year. I’m not sure whether I’ll re-up next year – maybe Mountain Lion and / or iOS 6 will change my mind.