I Have Apple Music. Do I Need iTunes Match?

If you want to keep a copy of your music library in the cloud so it's backed up and available anywhere, it's understandable that you might be confused about whether you need iTunes Match, Apple Music, or both. After all, the services are pretty similar in some ways. Well, we can help. Read on to find out whether you need iTunes Match if you already subscribe to Apple Music.

A pair of headphones with music notes pouring out of them
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The Difference Between iTunes Match and Apple Music

ITunes Match is a cloud backup solution that stores the music in your iCloud account and makes it available on any compatible device. All your devices can access the same music and your music collection is safely backed up.

For an in-depth breakdown of iTunes Match, check out Everything You Need to Know About iTunes Match.

Apple Music is a streaming music service that provides access to all the music in the iTunes Store for a flat monthly price. With Apple Music, you'll never lose your music. If a song is deleted from your device and it’s still in the iTunes Store, and you can download it again.

You Can Use iTunes Match and Apple Music Separately

While the two services work together, you’re not required to use them together. You can use Apple Music without an iTunes Match subscription, and vice versa.

You Own Your Music with iTunes Match

The biggest difference between the two services is that Apple Music subscribers don’t own the music they get from the service. Songs from Apple Music can only be listened to if you have an active subscription. When your subscription ends, the music you got goes away. With iTunes Match, when a subscription is canceled, the user keeps the music they had before signing up.

Apple Music Uses DRM, iTunes Match Doesn't

There can be long-term consequences for your music if you replace iTunes Match with Apple Music. The reason has to do with digital rights management.

Since the music in it are copies of your files, iTunes Match doesn’t use DRM. Apple Music, on the other hand, uses DRM to prevent access to Apple Music songs when a subscription has ended.

So, if you have a DRM-free song on your hard drive or in iTunes Match, and cancel your subscription, you can still enjoy the song. If you replace that song with one from Apple Music, the new version has DRM and only works while you have a subscription.

Always Make a Backup; iTunes Match Can Be One

It should go without saying that it's crucial to back up your data. If you back up to Time Machine, for example, you’re covered. We recommend a two-prong backup strategy: local backup and cloud backup. This ensures that even if one backup fails, you'll have the other to rely on. ITunes Match provides a cloud backup.

The iTunes Match service only backs up music, not an entire computer, so you may want a more complete backup service. But if you have a ton of music, an extra $25 per year is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

With a Small Music Library, Apple Music May Be Enough

If you didn't spend much time or money building your music library and owning music doesn’t matter much to you, paying an extra $25 each year for iTunes Match may not make sense. In that case, pay the annual price for Apple Music.

So, Which Do You Need?

If you want a cloud backup solution for your music, and don't want to stream music or use another service like Spotify, all you need is iTunes Match. If you want to stream music and have a virtually unlimited song selection — and get a backup that exists as long as you subscribe — Apple Music is for you.

You don't need both, but you may prefer the peace of mind that having both offers, especially since the difference between having just Apple Music versus both is only $25/year.