iTunes Match: For You?

**UPDATE** PC Magazine has a complete walk-through and explanation of iTunes Match for your consumption

After a promised launch of “late October”, Apple today launched iTunes Match as part of a new download of iTunes (10.5.1).

For $25 a year, iTunes Match will scan your library, give you access to stream and load any of those songs from the 18 million song iTunes library.  If one of your songs is not in that library, iTunes Match will upload that song and absorb it.  Therefore pretty much any song in your personal library, obtained legally or not, can be accessed by you on any iPad, iPhone or computer with access to the ‘net.  All songs will be streamed to you at the passible 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality file size.  Even if the originating file was a lessor bit rate, what you get back is 256kbps.  But know that it won’t improve sound quality.   If you upload a shitty sounding file, it will stream back to you in all its shitty sounding glory.  There is some thought that if you have a song that isn’t properly tagged and identifiable via Gracenote, it won’t upload.

This is different that Spotify, Rdio or MOG in that this is your library, whereas those are essentially giant public libraries of music that you don’t own, but pay a fee to access them for a monthly basis.  iTunes Match is your library of stuff you own now, or buy in the future, but gives you wireless access to the entire thing via streaming without having to store it directly on the device.  If you stop paying the $25 a year, you still own the song and have them stored (assuming you didn’t erase/lose them while using Match) you just can’t stream them from the service any longer.

So, what does this mean for you, and why do you want to spend $25 a year?  If you have enough music to make you happy on your iPhone or other portable device, or an iPod with your whole library, iTunes Match is not a need for you.  But if you’ve wanted to find a way to have access to your giant collection without having to stuff only a part of it on a device – well, here is a system for you.  Considering that other services like Spotify cost you $10 a month to stream music that may or may not be on your library, iTunes Match is a reasonable cost to access your personal collection.  Go buy the cheapest iPhone4S with only 16gig and stream your library to it for $25 a year.  That’s something to consider.  This certainly is the future.

Imagine an iPod the size of a Shuffle today that can play you any song from your library?   What if you could in the future access iTunes Match via an “app” built into the head unit of your car?  It’s coming…

At the time of this writing word is Apple is overwhelmed with requests for the new service, so acceptance of new subscribers has been suspended.  I can only imagine the server and bandwidth needed to scan/upload all of the millions of songs from the thousands of personal music libraries around the globe.

My personal fascination is the part that all of these illegally obtained files will now somehow become legitimized.  There are a lot of people that have bootlegged thousands of MP3’s of their favorite bands and Apple is about to have a really good idea of just how pervasive that has been.  I guess ripping off the band-aid and getting over it will go a long way to creating an environment where it’s just easier to buy music than rip it off.  I just want to know how Apple got the record companies to sign off on that part.

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