Is itunes match limited to 25,000 songs or as many songs as itunes actually sells?
January 3, 2013 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Question about Itunes Match....I just got off the phone with an Apple Care Specialist, but I have some doubts of the answers I received as the gentlemen never truly came across as confident in any answers he gave me, as well as a lot of it contradicts stuff I have read by looking around online...Looking for confirmation and clarification...

I'll try and bullet point my questions/concerns.

- I have itunes match which allows me 25,000 songs to be stored in the itunes cloud for $24.99 a year.
- I am digitalizing my music collection, which when all said and done, will probably end up being around 65-75,000 songs.
- From what I understand, 25,000 songs is the cap... Amazon cloud offers 250,000 songs for $24.99 which is 10x the amount for the same price.

I have been under the assumption, from what i have read via Apple's site and/or related blogs, that music purchased from the itunes store does not count against your 25,000 song limit.

The Service rep told me that as long as the music (that i upload from my personal collection) IS AVAILABLE in the itunes store, that it will ALSO not count towards my 25k limit..... I have not read this anywhere....

I do have a lot live music and very obscure music that is not available via itunes.....Maybe 10,000 or so songs of mine are not available for purchase through itunes. I am confident that the other 50k songs or so are available for purchase through itunes...

With that being said, is it safe to say, that I can easily upload the 50k or so amount of songs and have it not affect the 25,000k songs for $24.99 deal that I signed up for?

If what he is saying is true, then as long as itunes sells the song/album in their store, I can upload it from my personal collection no matter how or where I obtained it from....

Can anyone confirm this? I have considered calling Apple again and speaking to a different rep , but with the internal notes, they'll know I already inquired about this....LOL
posted by TwilightKid to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Service rep told me that as long as the music (that i upload from my personal collection) IS AVAILABLE in the itunes store, that it will ALSO not count towards my 25k limit..... I have not read this anywhere....

Apple says:

* iTunes Match is limited to 25,000 songs.
* iTunes Store purchases made with the same Apple ID being used for iTunes Match do not count towards the 25,000 song limit.

So I think he is wrong.

Also, as far as I know, it's not like it's limited to the first 25k non-purchased songs. If you have more than 25k non-purchased songs, you can't sign up for it.
posted by smackfu at 10:06 AM on January 3, 2013

Best answer: Apple doesn't actually store the songs for you if they're in itunes. They just take note that you have it, and let's you stream it from their regular itunes library.
posted by empath at 10:07 AM on January 3, 2013

Response by poster: Thats's what I thought, Smackfu & empath.....

He didn't sound confident in his answers even when I asked him to confirm as I had always understood otherwise...

I also asked him about being able to delete the physical files from my computer (to free up 100gigs of drive space), and if and when I ever decided to leave itunes match, I could d/l all the songs from the cloud, back to my drive with no problems....

I even asked if I should back up the 100gigs myself on a portable external drive, and he said that I should 'for extra protection' but the files are safe in the itunes cloud and would suffice if i ever wanted them back....

Kind of disheartening to receive such bad advice/response from Apple Care.... I don't put them on a pedestal, but this guys answers seem to be way off....I don't want to get him in trouble, but I do feel somewhat of a need to let them know....Ack.

So, if this guy is really wrong then, the Amazon deal of 250,000 songs for $24.99 a year is an obvious better choice for my situation.......The interface s*cks so bad though....Ugh.
posted by TwilightKid at 10:12 AM on January 3, 2013

Google Music is free.
posted by empath at 10:19 AM on January 3, 2013

I just did this for my wife right before christmas:

He's right in the sense that music sold on iTunes doesn't count against your cap, but, I found that a good number of songs that failed to match were available on itunes, but had been ripped from compilations, special editions of albums, etc.

The real key is that if your iOS device is your primary listening source, you're much better off staying in the Apple ecosystem than jumping to Amazon or Google, it just works better over airplay, when being backgrounded, etc.
posted by Oktober at 10:23 AM on January 3, 2013

If what he is saying is true, then as long as itunes sells the song/album in their store, I can upload it from my personal collection no matter how or where I obtained it from....

I can tell you that this much, at least, is true. For me, songs that I have purchased from iTunes behave no differently than songs that I obtained through other means (ripping from disc, purchasing from other sources, or... other means). I have even "upgraded" many songs ripped at a lower bitrate to the higher iTunes Match standard. It is certainly possible to delete them and re-download them multiple times.

Now, I have an order of magnitude fewer songs than you do, so I can't speak to how those songs over the limit would behave, but thought I'd mention it.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:24 AM on January 3, 2013

Response by poster: empath, I considered Goole PLay but it only the first 20,000 songs that are free according to their site, as well as their interface s*cks as well...LOL

Oktober, I am pretty much trying to satisfy my OCD more than anything. I have no intention of selling off my CD collection (and one day hope to display it in a man-cave in the near future). I am also sure that I will never have the desire to listen to about 85% of the stuff I upload to any cloud....It's my OCD not allowing me to only have portions of my collection readily available through a cloud service as opposed to treking to my basement to find a CD to satisfy that urge...I guess that is what Spotify and the 'likes' are for....

but would still like to have a concrete answer....may trek to an Apple store this week and quiz multiple employee'
posted by TwilightKid at 10:30 AM on January 3, 2013

You have a lot of live music. How do they define a "song"? I am about to do something similar with my music. I have a lot of live Grateful Dead concerts. Some are broken down into songs, but often those songs are 15 minutes long or some are coupled songs (Scarlet Begonias --> Fire on the Mountain) and will last even longer than 15 minutes. I have literally hundreds of concerts. I might have 37 versions of the same song.

My point and question is my concern if I were you would be the live stuff not available on itunes.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:07 AM on January 3, 2013

Are you willing to run your own home server? Subsonic is the best home media streamer and has support for mobile apps as well. I haven't used the different iOS apps, but the Android app is quite good. You even get a server domain to play with after a donation.

Of course, you'd have to have your server running when you want to use it and set up some port forwarding, but that's relatively minor.
posted by dobi at 11:46 AM on January 3, 2013

I've been considering doing the same thing. I learned that Match works by hashing your songs for a "fingerprint", and then comparing that fingerprint against songs in the iTunes store. Any songs that match a fingerprint don't count against your 25k, because they don't need to store anything new for you. So the question is, will your songs match the fingerprint of the version in the itunes store? If ripped from the retail CD, then they should match; but any corruption of the digital song data (ripped from a scratched CD, or a downloaded song missing the last second, etc) and even songs issued on soundtracks or compilations may not match up to a fingerprint. Those, and the rare/live tracks not on sale in the store, will count against your 25k, because Apple must upload and store them for you.

In my case, I mainly wanted Match to clean up the metadata of my library; MusicBrainz did what I needed for free. In fact, MusicBrainz also has a fingerprinter, and if you run it on your library, it will probably give you a good idea of how many songs will be similarly recognized by iTunes Match.
posted by Chris4d at 10:47 AM on January 4, 2013

Response by poster: I have wayyyy to much music to ever determine how well fingerprints are gonna match up....but if i understand you correctly, then you are saying what the Apple rep told me in essence is correct, as long my my songs meta match itunes versions identically??
posted by TwilightKid at 6:05 PM on January 4, 2013

All songs not purchased through iTunes songs count toward the 25k cap. Period. Whether they're "Matched" or "Uploaded". Your obscure or live stuff that's not available is going to take quite some time to upload to Apple, so hopefully you have a fast connection. I have about 19k songs, roughly 2/3 of them ended up matching, and with my mid-tier Comcast connection it took the better part of two days to upload the rest.

All songs purchased through iTunes songs are 'free' and do not count toward the cap.

One thing to note is that if you have a lot of material with explicit lyrics that the Matched version will often be the Clean one, so if you intend to delete them to free up space you'll get the Clean version next time you listen (and on iOS devices when you listen you'll be re-downloading and storing that Clean version and unable to manually delete it). This only happens for songs that are shown as Matched in iTunes, not ones that it shows as Uploaded.

There's a goofy process to get around this, where you delete the matched songs from both iTunes and iTunes Match, convert them to m4a files (or re-rip as m4a), set the Explicit bit with a third party tool, and then re-add them to iTunes+iTunes Match (giving a good 24+ hours between when you delete them and re-add them).
posted by togdon at 10:34 AM on January 7, 2013

togdon: One thing to note is that if you have a lot of material with explicit lyrics that the Matched version will often be the Clean one

I've heard this many times, but never experienced it with my library, so I guess it's a YMMV type thing.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:45 AM on January 7, 2013

It's definitely hit or miss on my stuff. The more popular the artist or the older the tracks, the more likely it seems to happen. It really sucks when you've legitimately purchased a track from, say, Amazon (since singles there are almost always $0.99 vs. the variable but usually higher price in iTunes) and you get the clean version from iTunes match. I've given up on the workarounds--Apple claimed to be looking into it over a year ago--and just started to buy explicit singles at $1.29.

To the original poster... don't let that turn you off of iTunes Match, the fact I can pay Apple $25/year to act as an offsite backup for this stuff and stream from it is totally worth it.
posted by togdon at 3:46 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

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