Have you confused by the whole iTunes Match, Apple Music and iCloud Music Library thing? Apple describes Apple Music and iTunes Match as “independent but complementary” but in fact the services are closely connected through a third feature: iCloud Music Library. This post will cover everything you need to know about them.
What’s Apple Music, iCloud Music Library and iTunes Match?
Apple Music is one app, which combines a new Music app for iPhone and iPad, a new version of iTunes for Mac and Windows. Once you subscribe Apple Music with $9.99/moth (or $14.99/month, for a family plan), you are able to get access to its whole cool music features, like Apple Music streaming, Beats 1 radio, and the Connect social network. In addition, Apple Music also enables you to match your music library and uploads tracks to iCloud Music Library. There is a 100,000 track limit, which has a higher capacity compared with the iTunes Match’s 25,000 track limit.
iCloud Music Library is Apple’s service for storing your personal music library online by “matching” your tracks to songs listed on the iTunes Store (or uploading tracks directly, if there’s no match available). You can then stream and download them — DRM-free — to up to ten other registered devices in your possession. Initially, Apple let you store up to 25,000 songs in iCloud Music Library, but this limit has since been raised to 100,000. Once all relevant music files have uploaded (which, note, can take a very long time), they (and your playlists) are accessible on any device logged into the relevant Apple ID.
iTune Match on the other hand is one of the Apple’s cloud based services for music and you can upload 25,000 songs from your iTune music library with a subscription fee of $24.99 per year to cloud and then stream and download them to up to 10 devices which are registered with it. It lets its users match up to 100,000 songs from their iTunes library (or libraries) to the DRM-free iTunes Store catalog; these tracks can then be streamed or downloaded to up to ten of your other devices. (If iTunes Match can’t match a track to a song in the iTunes catalog, it’ll manually upload it, instead.) Purchased iTunes content doesn’t count toward that 100,000 song limit, nor do they need to be uploaded because Apple has the track on its servers already.
How Apple Music and the iCloud Music Library work with iTunes Match?
Effectively, iCloud Music Library incorporates with iTunes Match, which makes a person’s local iTunes library (including playlists) available for remote streaming or download whether the songs were bought from the iTunes Store, ripped from a CD, or otherwise imported.
If Match can’t find a song on Apple servers, it simply uploads a user’s copy wholesale, and downloads it the same way. Matched songs, however, are downloaded as 256 kilobit-per-second AAC files without copy protection (better known as DRM).
The same functions are available to Apple Music subscribers, but go a step further. For them iCloud Music Library is needed to add on-demand tracks to an iTunes library, and/or to save them for offline listening. Without Apple Music the feature can still make files accessible across devices, but only iTunes purchases.
An important distinction from iTunes Match is that any tracks matched by Apple Music do get DRM if users download them on another device, or the originals are deleted from a person’s iTunes library. This is a consequence of Apple technology meant to ensure that once a person cancels the service, they can’t keep all the tracks they saved for offline listening but never originally owned.
People can however subscribe to both Apple Music and iTunes Match, in which case matched files will always be DRM-free.
Apple Music is the more expensive option of the two, costing $9.99 a month for an individual listener, or $14.99 a month with a six-person family plan. iTunes Match by contrast is only $24.99 per year, but of course omits Apple Music’s on-demand catalog.
Read next: How to Burn Apple Music to CD