iTunes Match - Legalizing your dodgy music collection has never been easier

iTunes Match is cool, but is it twenty-five bucks a year cool?

Yesterday Apple finally released the iTunes Match service, and legalizing your dodgy music collection has never been easier.

Note: While I'm going to be talking about 'pirated' music here, don't take that to mean that I'm OKing the practice or in any way condoning it. I don't.

iTunes Match is a new $24.99 a year cloud music service from Apple that makes your iTunes library available to you everywhere you go (as long as that everywhere has an internet connection). It works by scanning your entire iTunes library and duplicating this up in the cloud server. Duplicating your tracks is handled in three ways:

  • All your iTunes purchases are already in the cloud waiting for you
  • Any songs that you've ripped from CD or acquired via other means (naughty-naughty ... but Apple forgives you!) are scanned and matched against Apple's catalog, and if a match is found, Apple gives you a free, DRM-free copy to do with as you please, no questions asked
  • Any tracks that iTunes doesn't recognize (such as those from your Tuvan throat singing collection) will be uploaded to the cloud

Now, the cloud part of iTunes Match is cool, but I'm not sure if it is twenty-five bucks a year cool, but that's based more of subjective rather than objective reasoning on my part. I carry my tunes with me on my iPhone and iPad and I don't really need cloud access. But for those who have a large collection of tracks from a variety of sources (legal or otherwise), then a one-off payment of $24.99 just to legitimize that collection does indeed sounds cheap to me.

Heck, even if your stuff is all legal, then $25 is a small price to pay to get it all organized. A few years ago after I'd imported my music collection into iTunes I bought a lifetime subscription to TuneUp to sort through my mess of (legal) rips and fix all my labeling and cover art problems ... that cost me $50.

There's obviously a lot of interest in iTunes Match - enough for Apple to have to temporarily put a stop to new subscriptions - but I wonder how many of these subscribers are only interested legalizing their music collection, s opposed to those folks who actually want a cloud music service. Those interested in a cloud service will likely pay up next year, those only looking for a free pass more than likely won't (unless they keep adding to their collection).

What do you think of iTunes Match? Is it a service that is of interest to you?