What is iTunes Match?

It's not as well known as Apple Music, but you might need it

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iTunes Match stores your music in the cloud so you can access your music from any compatible device.

What Is iTunes Match?

Though it's not as well known as Apple Music, iTunes Match may be just what you need. Whether you want to keep music in sync across your devices, stream your music virtually anywhere, or get your music into the cloud, understanding iTunes Match may be the first step.

With iTunes Match, you create a copy of the music library on your devices in your iCloud account. Because this is stored in the cloud, it's accessible on all devices signed into the same Apple ID. If any change is made to the music on one device, iTunes Match syncs it to the cloud and to all of your other devices so they always have the same music library.

For a deep dive on iTunes Match, you'll find all the answers to the most common questions in Everything You Need to Know About iTunes Match.

What Devices Does iTunes Match Work On?

You can use iTunes Match on:

  • Macs and PCs running iTunes 10.5.2 or later.
  • iOS devices running iOS 5.0.1 or later.
  • Apple TV running tvOS 4.4 or later.

You also need an Apple ID with a valid payment method on file.

What Does iTunes Match Cost?

An iTunes Match subscription costs US$25/year. The subscription is billed to the payment method in your Apple ID.

How Does iTunes Match Work?

The way iTunes Match works is simple. After subscribing, iTunes Match scans your iTunes music library. When it's cataloged all of your music, it does two things:

  1. First, it "matches" all of your music that's also in the iTunes Store and adds it to your iCloud account so you don't have to upload thousands of songs and gigabytes of music. Any music that is both in your library and in the iTunes Store simply appears in your iCloud account.
  2. Second, iTunes Match identifies music in your library that isn't in the iTunes Store. Since those songs aren't in the Store, they're uploaded from your computer or device to iCloud.

This process repeats on all compatible devices signed into your Apple ID. Music is also synced from the cloud to your devices so that all of your devices have the same music library.

Then, when you make a change to the music on any of your devices, iTunes Match automatically syncs the change to iCloud and to all of your devices.

Want detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to use iTunes Match? Read How to Set Up And Use iTunes Match on iPhone.

How Is iTunes Match Different From iCloud Music Library?

While iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library are related, they're not the same. Your iCloud Music Library is where iTunes Match uploads your music, but it can also get music from Apple Music. You can have iCloud Music Library without iTunes Match (if you only subscribe to Apple Music, for instance), but it can't work the other way around.

What About iTunes Match vs. Apple Music?

These are definitely not the same thing. Both use iCloud Music Library, but they're pretty different.

  • iTunes Match: A subscription service that uploads the music you already own to the cloud. It keeps all of your libraries in sync and is billed yearly.
  • Apple Music: A Spotify-style subscription service that lets you add virtually any song from the iTunes Store to your library. It also includes personalized playlists and album recommendations. You can only play Apple Music songs while you're a subscriber. Subscriptions are billed monthly.

Bottom line: iTunes Match is a service that makes the music you already own more available, while Apple Music makes your music library virtually unlimited.

Wondering whether you need to pay for both iTunes Match and Apple Music? It depends on your music library and your goals. Learn all about it in I Have Apple Music. Do I Need iTunes Match?

How Do You Subscribe to iTunes Match?

Want to subscribe to iTunes Match? Just follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that you're running the latest version of iTunes, then launch iTunes on either your computer.

  2. In the buttons just under the panel at the top of the iTunes, click Store.

    A screenshot of the iTunes Store with the Store option selected
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the screen. Under the Features heading, click iTunes Match.

    A screenshot of iTunes showing the sign-up link for iTunes Match
  4. Click Subscribe.

    A screenshot of the sign-up screen for iTunes Match
  5. Sign in with your Apple ID username and password.

  6. You may be asked to validate the payment method in your Apple ID account or add a new payment method. Follow the onscreen prompts and then click Subscribe.

  7. Agree to Apple's terms and conditions, and iTunes Match will start scanning and uploading your music library.