Apple's iTunes Match Service Faces Criticism for Enabling Music Piracy
Apple's iTunes Match service, which allows users to upload their own music to iCloud and access it across their devices, has been accused of facilitating music piracy by some critics. The service, which costs $24.99 a year, scans users' music libraries and matches them with songs available in the iTunes Store. If a song is not available in the store, iTunes Match uploads it to iCloud and makes it available for streaming or downloading.
However, some critics argue that this feature enables users to upload illegally downloaded or ripped songs and legitimize them as part of their iCloud Music Library. This way, users can essentially pay a small fee to convert their pirated music into legal copies, without compensating the original artists or labels. Some have even dubbed this practice as \"grand piracy\" or \"laundering\" of music.
Apple has not commented on these allegations, but some experts have defended the company's service as a legitimate way of providing convenience and flexibility to users who may have acquired their music from various sources over the years. They also point out that iTunes Match does not remove any digital rights management (DRM) protection from the songs, and that users still need to abide by the terms and conditions of the service, which prohibit illegal activities.
Apple launched iTunes Match in 2011 as part of its iCloud services. The service has faced some technical issues over the years, such as slow uploading, mismatching of songs, and duplication of tracks. However, it still remains popular among some users who prefer to own their music rather than stream it from subscription-based services like Apple Music or Spotify.
However, iTunes Match is not the only service that Apple offers for music lovers. In 2015, Apple launched Apple Music, a subscription-based streaming service that competes with the likes of Spotify, Pandora, and Tidal. Apple Music also includes iTunes Match as part of its features, but it offers much more than that.
What Apple Music offers
For $9.99/month (or $14.99/month for a family plan), Apple Music gives you access to its full music streaming catalog on all of your devices. Subscribers can play any song in the Apple Music catalog, whether they own it or not. They also get two customized playlists delivered each week, a New Music Mix, Favorites Mix, Friends Mix, and Chill Mix based on user taste and past-played songs, along with a variety of daily playlist suggestions put together by Apple's music curators.
In addition, users can listen to Beats 1, Apple's 24/7 internet radio station, and play back-catalog episodes of Beats 1's various programmed shows. They can also watch exclusive music videos, documentaries, and live concerts on Apple Music TV. And they can discover new artists and songs through the Connect feature, which lets them follow their favorite musicians and see their posts, photos, videos, and more.
What are the differences between iTunes Match and Apple Music
The biggest differences between iTunes Match and Apple Music are the range of music you get access to and the pricing. Apple Music is more expensive than iTunes Match, at $9.99/month versus $24.99/year, but it offers a much larger catalog of songs to stream or download. While iTunes Match only lets you access your own music library or songs purchased from the iTunes Store, Apple Music lets you access over 75 million songs from various genres and artists.
Another difference is that iTunes Match lets you keep your original files on your computer or device, while Apple Music replaces them with DRM-protected versions when you enable iCloud Music Library. This means that if you cancel your Apple Music subscription, you will lose access to any songs that you downloaded from the service or added to your library from its catalog. However, if you cancel your iTunes Match subscription, you will still be able to play or download any songs that you uploaded or matched from your own library.
A third difference is that iTunes Match is available in more countries than Apple Music. As of December 2020, iTunes Match is available in 119 countries, while Apple Music is available in 167 countries. However, some features of Apple Music may vary by country or region.
Which service should you choose
The answer to this question depends on your personal preferences and needs. If you only want to access your own music library across your devices, and you don't care about streaming new songs or listening to curated playlists or radio stations, then iTunes Match may be enough for you. It's cheaper than Apple Music and it preserves your original files.
However, if you want to explore a vast catalog of music from various genres and artists, and you enjoy discovering new songs and playlists based on your taste and mood, then Apple Music may be worth the extra cost. It also gives you access to exclusive content and features that iTunes Match doesn't offer.
If you're still undecided, you can try both services for free for a limited time. iTunes Match offers a three-month free trial for new subscribers, while Apple Music offers a one-month free trial for individual plans and a three-month free trial for family plans. You can also use both services simultaneously if you want to get the best of both worlds.