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iTunes Match: Why I’m Not Renewing the Subscription

Does the service “just work?”

At the 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs introduced an extremely interesting service for storing your music and listening to it. The idea of it was pretty simple.

iTunes Match allowed users to match (that was obvious, huh) their own music files (despite if they were ripped from a CD or downloaded from an illegal music website) with the iTunes Store tracks or upload the unmatched songs to the cloud, and then either stream or download the files using any device, anytime, anywhere (P.S. “Internet Access Required”). Apple even enhanced bad-quality music replacing it with 256-kbps tracks from the iTunes Store. The good thing is that the replacement tracks become yours, so even if you cancel the subscription, they’ll still be available.

The price? Just $25 a year. Indeed, a pretty interesting offer, isn’t it?

So thought I about a year ago when Apple launched the iTunes Store in Russia, making iTunes Match available for Russian users as well. Due to having a big collection of music—purchased music (I mean, not stolen) which I didn’t want to pay for twice—I signed up for iTunes Match almost instantly.

The impressions of intensive iTunes Match use during the first days (or even weeks) were pretty positive: I managed to match most of my music, and those songs that the iTunes Store didn’t find in its catalog were successfully uploaded to the Apple’s server. Probably the best side of the feature is that you can stream your music without caching it (although the iOS Music app automatically caches the frequently listened tracks).

A few weeks later, some little problems occurred. First of all, there were a few albums with no covers (though the latter appeared on my Mac). On one hand, that wasn’t as annoying as it may seem to be. On the other hand, not everything was alright. And it actually made sense.

More serious bugs were noticed by me when the subscription almost expired. Honestly, I’m not sure that they were caused by the subscription itself. Nevertheless, temporary disabling iTunes Match helped me to resolve an issue with my iPad.

After canceling the subscription, I still can stream the music from the iTunes Store on my iOS devices. The only thing I’d lost was the ability to access the music that’s been purchased anywhere else. So, life without iTunes Match turned out not to be that bad as it looks at first glance.

In conclusion, iTunes Match is definitely one of those ‘nice to have’ features Apple offers to us: affordable, automatic and useful. As Steve Jobs used to say, “It just works.” Unfortunately, it works not so well.