I received several iTunes gift cards for Christmas this year, which I always love to receive. I decided to spend some of them to pay for a year of iTunes Match. The main idea behind iTunes Match is that once you sign up and match or upload your music, you can access it from any computer or device that’s authorized for your iTunes account. Once you sign up and activate it on a computer that contains your iTunes library, iTunes analyzes all of your music.
If it can find the same song in iTunes, you now have access to a high quality 256 bit AAC copy of it through iCloud (I talked about bit rate in an earlier post). If it can’t find a match, it uploads the song from your computer to iCloud. Depending on how much music you have, this can take several hours to complete. You can now access those songs from any computer or iOS device (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch) that is set up to access your iTunes account. As a nice side-effect, you can download all of those high quality songs back to your computer, replacing the possibly inferior ones that you’ve collected over the years. Oh, and they’re DRM free!
I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 songs in my library. Some of those songs were purchased right from iTunes, some were ripped from my CD collection and some were acquired from other sources. I’m a bit OCD when it comes to my music, so most everything in my library was ripped at a decent bit-rate and it’s all well organized and properly tagged. I have some older stuff that may not be quite as high quality and I have some skips on some of the tracks that I ripped from CD, so I was looking forward to replacing them with nice clean iTunes fresh copies.
Pretty cool huh? It would be if it was that easy!
I have some fairly eclectic tastes and I know that I have music that’s not even available from iTunes, so I didn’t expect all of my music to be matched. I did however expect that most of it would be. After the initial run, I had around 1,100 songs that couldn’t be matched. That seemed like a high number to me, it’s over 1/8th of my entire collection! I started looking at what didn’t match.
Some of the stuff that I expected not to match didn’t, surprisingly some did (like The Dead Milkmen and Attractive Eighties Women). A large portion of the unmatched songs were fairly mainstream and are available for sale in iTunes. What’s more annoying than that, many of the songs were parts of albums that iTunes managed to match! For example, the Beastie Boys album The Mix-Up (which I ripped from a CD purchased from a local shop), matched all but two songs which showed as “Uploaded” instead of “Matched”. The more I looked, the more albums I found with similar results.
I can live with an artist or album not matching, but it really bugs me to have one or two songs from an album be the CD rips and the rest are iTunes sourced files. This may seem trivial or picky to you, but it’s just how I am and I’m sure that I’m not alone.
I hit the search engines to try to find some help. I found several posts pointing out that if the song in your library was a few seconds too long or short, it may not match. They suggested using an editor to chop off or pad a few seconds on the track, then try to match it again. Every file I tried this with didn’t get any better results.
A few folks suggested converting from MP3 to AAC, so I tried that with no success. Some suggested deleting one album at a time, re-importing and then re-matching, still no luck.
As of right now, I’m giving up for a bit. I may try to re-rip from my CDs, or I may just wait until Apple comes up with a better way to match tracks.
I really dig the idea of iTunes Match. Having access on all of my iDevices is great. Knowing that my music is backed up in a massive Apple Data-center somewhere is comforting. Having nice clean copies of my music is very cool, but they’ve still got a few kinks to work out.