Apps & Mobile

iTunes Match, One Year Later

By Tyler Hayes, who runs the music discovery discovery site Nxt Big Thing.

"iTunes Match: YoHero_titleur subscription will expire in 30 days". The email was a
reminder that it's almost been one year since Apple launched their 'iTunes in
the Cloud'.

Clearer in hindsight than it was on launch day of the product, iTunes Match is
simply an express way for your music to be instantaneously transported to you.
No more wondering if your main computer is on, hooked up to the network
correctly and set to share your music on your home wi-fi, it's just simple
access to your acquired music.

The conflict that keeps racing to the forefront of my mind as I look back on
the last 12 months though, is the last part of that sentence, "acquired
music". A year ago I was torn between buying all my music individually,
downloading it, and "owning" it versus streaming it all and renting it from
services like Spotify or Rdio. Now, I'm less torn and tend to rely more on
Spotify because for someone who listens to a lot of music, it's a better deal
financially. Even though they have a spotty track record of having everything
I want to listen to available, compared to iTunes, they have enough to justify
the $10/month.

With iTunes Match, Apple breathed new life into the stale business model of
paying for every album you wanted to hear. But now just one year later, that
new life is looking stale once again. Choosing a music service or platform
shouldn't take a spreadsheet with 10 different categories, but it appears as
if the music race still isn't over and for the time being it does. Beyond the
different types of services are different philosophies on how musicians should
be paid, which is a whole separate rats nest unto itself. Amazon has taken the
stance of discounting digital music because of less overhead, Spotify and Rdio
were, by design, at the bleeding edge of on-demand music, and now Microsoft
has joined the races with Xbox Music. Microsoft is giving free streaming music
to everyone with an Xbox 360, Windows Phone 8 device, or PC running Windows 8.
In comparison, Apple is charging $25/year to access your already purchased
music. To the credit of iTunes Match though, the reason why it often feels
like a neat feature rather than a $2+/month service is because it works near
flawless.

Looking back at the service's first year keeps bringing me back to money,
costs and the bigger, more vague, problem of paying artists. Do I pay Apple
for iTunes Match to allow seamless access to my music collection that may stay
static longer or do I pay Spotify for an infinite collection that's not
permanent? I guess that answer depends on the user and their use case. For me,
when I got the email saying that my year was almost up, it left a big doubt as
to whether I'd be signing up for another year.

 

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