Alex Kaloostian

Apple Certified Master Trainer | Systems Integrator | Video Editor | Motion Graphics Artist

Replace all your songs with higher-quality tracks with ITunes Match

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By now you have probably heard a lot about iTunes Match, but you may still not be clear on exactly what it is or if it’s worth $25 a year. I was skeptical myself. So heres as simple a guide as I can devise.

What is it?
iTunes Match is a subscription service that stores your music “in the cloud”. Translation: on Apple’s servers. So no matter where you are, you can log in and download your music on any device– Apple, PC, iPad, iPod, iPhone.

When you sign in and set up, itunes will automatically scan your music library. Any songs that are already on the store, so probably most of them, will be marked as owned by you, and the rest will be uploaded.

Cool reason to use iTunes Match #1:
Did you notice the part where I said ALL your music is stored in the cloud? Ever been in a bar or at a party with people and a funny story came up, or someone reminded you of a song they just HAVE to hear? But you don’t have it because your iPhone is only 16GB? Now you can hear any of your songs, any time, anywhere, and you don’t always have to carry them around with you. That’s pretty cool.

Cool reason to use iTunes Match #2:
The music Apple already has online is DRM-free and high quality. So if, like me, you ripped a lot of your music years ago at a low bitrate because your hard drive was small, or bought a lot through iTunes when they DRMed their music, you can replace all this stuff with new, high-quality tracks! It takes a little trick, but its easy to do, here’s how:

  1. Sign up for iTunes Match, natch.
  2. Set up and wait for iTunes to upload all your music. This could take awhile. I had 10,000 tracks, with about the same ratio of on-the-store/not-on-the-store that most people would have, and it took about 4 hours.
  3. Now, find all the tracks that are protected, or less than 256kbps. You can make a smart playlist to do the work for you. Just search for music with a bitrate lower than 256, AND kind is music. You dont want to be deleting any videos or podcasts.
  4. You also want to find any of that music that is in iTunes match- you dont want to delete anything you cant get back. But the tricky part is, you need to find music which is lower than 256 AND music… and Purchased OR matched. To add the conditional, option-click (hey, there’s the option key again) the little plus sign in the smart playlist window. When its done, it will look like this:
  5. Okay, now you will have a smart playlist with low-quality music that can be re-downloaded from iTunes Match. Time to… um… do that.
  6. Select all the music in the new smart playlist and delete it. Choose to put the files in the trash.
  7. Now that you’re signed into iTunes match, your songs wont actually disappear from your Library! There will now be an iCloud icon next to them. Click the icon, and you will be able to re-download.
  8. Now, it’s going to suck clicking that icon again and again if you are replacing a lot of tracks. So heed my warning: When you select all the songs in the smart playlist and delete them, there will be a short pause of a couple seconds when they are deleted but they haven’t disappeared from the playlist yet. And they are still highlighted. Quickly click the re-download button right away and ALL of them will start to re-download. (in a really random order, if mine is any example).

Author: alexkaloostian

I'm a video editor, motion graphics designer and Mac IT consultant in the Boston area.

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