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Apple's iTunes Match beta supports streaming music playback

post #1 of 34
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The developer preview of Apple's forthcoming iTunes Match service for iCloud contains early support for streaming music, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple seeded a new iTunes 6.1 beta with iTunes Match functionality to developers late Monday evening.

A source testing out the service has told AppleInsider that, though the service is "still really buggy," he is able to play some iCloud-based iTunes Match songs over Wi-Fi on an iPad 2. The feature appears to be in its early stages, as some songs on the tipster's device remain "greyed out."

After iTunes Match has been activated, an iCloud column appears to the right of the song name in the browser pane of iTunes. The music player will automatically default to streaming songs, but by clicking a download icon, users can store the music locally on their computer.

Insanely Great Mac has posted a pair of video demonstrations of the iTunes Match streaming feature on a Mac and an iPhone.





Developers testing iTunes Match have been warned by Apple to keep a backup of their music libraries before signing up for the service, as any content copied to its servers during the beta may be erased.

iTunes Match cost $24.99 a year and supports up to 25,000 songs from a user's library that Apple will "scan and match" with offerings from the iTunes Music Store. Songs not found in the iTunes system will be automatically uploaded to iCloud. The service works with up to 10 iTunes PCs and iOS devices, but only five of the devices can be computers.

The company boasts that the service will take just minutes to run, as opposed to "weeks" spent uploading songs to rival services from Amazon and Google. Apple unveiled iTunes Match this June during the Worldwide Developers Conference. The service is scheduled to arrive this fall alongside iCloud and iOS 5.



Prior to Apple's announcement of iCloud and iTunes Match, reports suggested that the company was renegotiating streaming licenses for music.
post #2 of 34
The streaming is a pretty big deal. I am definitely going for the 16GB iPad next time (rather than 32GB), since now I can keep just the few songs I listen to ALL the time, and just stream the occasional song from my rarely played list.

Good stuff!
post #3 of 34
It should be noted that it is for developers in the united states only at the moment, so us european developers have to wait with testing this. (did not see that mentioned in the article)
post #4 of 34
Does anyone know if iTunes Matched songs will persist if a user chooses NOT to renew in the 2nd year? Some reports claim that matched songs will remain available as "Previously Purchased" songs in one's library, thereby allowing for a re-download even after the subscription has ended. However, Apple's site doesn't seem to provide any explicit indication of this.
post #5 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Conscript View Post

The streaming is a pretty big deal.

It definitely is a big deal.

A lot of people, including myself, were disappointed when iTunes Match was first introduced, since there was no mention of streaming and everybody was saying that it was download only.

Streaming changes everything, and having access to your entire song library on every single device that you own is great. I wasn't going to get iTunes Match, but now I definitely will, since it's streaming.
post #6 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingKuei View Post

Does anyone know if iTunes Matched songs will persist if a user chooses NOT to renew in the 2nd year? Some reports claim that matched songs will remain available as "Previously Purchased" songs in one's library, thereby allowing for a re-download even after the subscription has ended. However, Apple's site doesn't seem to provide any explicit indication of this.

Are you currently able to re-download "previously purchased" songs?

It seems I have access to that functionality for applications but not songs.
post #7 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post

Are you currently able to re-download "previously purchased" songs?

It seems I have access to that functionality for applications but not songs.

You can do that now... Open iTunes, go to iTunes Store, look for the "Purchased" link on the right hand side. It should open up a screen where you can re-download all your Music, Music Videos, TV Shows (not Movies though), Apps and Books.

It doesn't work on the latest iTunes on my PC but on the Mac and iOS it's fine.
post #8 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingKuei View Post

Does anyone know if iTunes Matched songs will persist if a user chooses NOT to renew in the 2nd year? Some reports claim that matched songs will remain available as "Previously Purchased" songs in one's library, thereby allowing for a re-download even after the subscription has ended. However, Apple's site doesn't seem to provide any explicit indication of this.

I'd love to know that too. I'm guessing you would not be able to play f you didn't renew. Otherwise it would be a one time fee to legitimize 25,000 songs from Napster for many. I don't see the music industry being that generous some how.

On the other hand It would be great for all my own CDs I ripped at lower bit rates to be upgraded for a one time fee. If they are literally downloaded they would have to have some form of DRM to cease after a year. If they are only streamed that's an easier fix for Apple to cut you off after a year if you don't renew.

BTW ... Reading this article it amazes me is how lightly some developers take their NDA with Apple.
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post #9 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

If they are literally downloaded they would have to have some form of DRM to cease after a year. If they are only streamed that's an easier fix for Apple to cut you off after a year if you don't renew.

Thinking about this and researching a little more, I realized that Apple has made it a point to eliminate FairPlay DRM from the iTunes store. Then I found this article from arstechnica:

http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/20...s-answered.ars

As they point out, there doesn't appear to be any mechanism for Apple to determine if a track in your library was pirated or ripped from your own CD. If that's the case, and you are allowed to download tracks to your computer and physically store them on the hard drive, then it does indeed seem like "amnesty for pirates of 25,000 songs".

Now that I think about it, perhaps Apple convinced the labels that those pirates would never and will never pay for those songs, but the opportunity to swap them for DRM-free, high quality, non-virus-laden files, could be enough of a draw to get them to pony up $25. At least the labels would recoup some small amount from pirated music. At worst, they will reclaim one one-thousandth of a dollar for each song. Using Apple's claim that 16B songs have been sold on the iTunes store, if we assume that an equal number have been pirated, that's $16 million in revenue that Apple and the record labels would otherwise never have seen. These numbers improve greatly as the number of pirated songs increases and/or the average number of matched songs per user decreases. For example, in January, a service called TidySongs revealed that their average user library was just 7,160 songs. (http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2011/...160-songs.html) Based on that average, I calculated nearly $56 million in revenue, and that's only assuming that iTunes sales were equal to pirated downloads. The $$$ become even more favorable as pirated downloads increase.

I agree that the labels are not acting out of generosity, but in this case, I believe the labels see it as a way to monetize some of that pirated music.
post #10 of 34
Matched & converted tracks are coming back with the new type "Matched AAC audio file" and will contain your Name and Apple ID even if you bought (sort of ) them elsewhere.

Looking at my 11000+ Song library I'd say that about 80% is greyed out which probably means that there's no match found on iTunes for them and I'd have to upload them. Uploading seems to be disabled at the moment, so there's no way playing the greyed out tracks - not even on the Mac where the physical files remain. This seems a bit strange as there's no reason streaming the same file from a server if it's already on the disk. Not complaining here (yeah, I know it's beta), just wondering.
post #11 of 34
What about those of us with 50,000 tracks in our library? Who determines which 25,000 are eligible for the Match service?
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

What about those of us with 50,000 tracks in our library? Who determines which 25,000 are eligible for the Match service?

My question as well (sorry, only 32K songs. :-) Plus, since a large number of songs are old LP imports, local music, obscure stuff - that's a lot of potential uploading. Curious if such uploaded songs would count towards your 'cloud quota'. (or if you could disable uploading and do match only)
post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingKuei View Post

Does anyone know if iTunes Matched songs will persist if a user chooses NOT to renew in the 2nd year? Some reports claim that matched songs will remain available as "Previously Purchased" songs in one's library, thereby allowing for a re-download even after the subscription has ended. However, Apple's site doesn't seem to provide any explicit indication of this.

You have access to the tracks that are not stored within iCloud. Meaning, if you have a a copy of all of your matched music on your computer and your iCloud service ends, you will not lose your ability to listen to those tracks BUT you lose the ability to redownload the matched tracks from your iCloud account (whether it be to a computer or your iOS device) and no more of your tracks will be matched. It seems as tho you lose your ability to stream, as well.
post #14 of 34
I am not knocking it at all, but how can people possibly hoard that much music? 32,000 songs? 50,000? 100,000? (maybe not, but you never know) Unless you're a DJ or employed in the music industry, why is that even needed? I have a measly 4,000 songs in my library, and I'm pretty sure over half of those I haven't listened to in years.
post #15 of 34
I don't get where this "legalizes your music" is coming from. You still need to own the CDs or it isn't legal. The RIAA can still sue you if they can prove that you didn't buy the music in the first place. The only thing you are buying is extra provisions for use of the music that technically probably should be allowed under the copyright but is kinda grey area.

Although probably not the case, it would be great if this would be a way to consolidate music bought with other personal iTunes accounts under one.
post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

I am not knocking it at all, but how can people possibly hoard that much music? 32,000 songs? 50,000? 100,000? (maybe not, but you never know) Unless you're a DJ or employed in the music industry, why is that even needed? I have a measly 4,000 songs in my library, and I'm pretty sure over half of those I haven't listened to in years.

I just enjoy music. Had over 3,000 CDs at home at one point in time. Loved going to the used CD store and buy albums for 50 cents or $1. Found a lot of great music that way. Got a lot of cheap mp3 music form mp3.come and later amie street (sigh - both gone now). Even now, places like magnatune can give you a lot of mp3 music for your money. (after listening to their podcast I ended up downloading 200 tracks that night).

So for we audiophiles, it's very easy to start racking up the tracks. Kind of nice to have so many songs to shuffle... :-)
post #17 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobodyy View Post

You have access to the tracks that are not stored within iCloud. Meaning, if you have a a copy of all of your matched music on your computer and your iCloud service ends, you will not lose your ability to listen to those tracks BUT you lose the ability to redownload the matched tracks from your iCloud account (whether it be to a computer or your iOS device) and no more of your tracks will be matched. It seems as tho you lose your ability to stream, as well.

I'd certainly accept those limitations and consider them fair. I'd love to download my own CDs if upgraded. It remains to be seen how many are of course and as I emigrated from the UK 21 years ago most of my collection is UK based CDs and may hit a brick wall on the US iTunes system. Of course I can re digitize them all over again at higher bit rates if I ever get a quiet month with nothing to do! I wonder though if some of the Apple versions maybe remastered hence even better, any word on that I may have missed?
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post #18 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

I don't get where this "legalizes your music" is coming from. You still need to own the CDs or it isn't legal. The RIAA can still sue you if they can prove that you didn't buy the music in the first place. The only thing you are buying is extra provisions for use of the music that technically probably should be allowed under the copyright but is kinda grey area.

Although probably not the case, it would be great if this would be a way to consolidate music bought with other personal iTunes accounts under one.

Reading the last sentence ... in this extract (http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/20...s-answered.ars provided by KingKuei) it seems the industry is willing to bend the definition of legal for some more money they would otherwise never have seen.

"iTunes Match will let you mirror up to 25,000 tracks in your iCloud, and those songs can be pulled down to any iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, as well as synced with Macs or PCs running iTunes. This includes tracks ripped from CDs or downloaded from the Internet, even those you may have obtained in a less-than-legal manner."
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post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

I am not knocking it at all, but how can people possibly hoard that much music? 32,000 songs? 50,000? 100,000? (maybe not, but you never know) Unless you're a DJ or employed in the music industry, why is that even needed? I have a measly 4,000 songs in my library, and I'm pretty sure over half of those I haven't listened to in years.

Even with 4,000 songs the advantage of a streaming service is now you have easy access to all of them. Especially when combined with Genius Playlist you can be out and about listening to music on your iPhone and be reintroduced to songs you haven't heard in years. No more having to manually manage the music on your iPhone.
post #20 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

Even with 4,000 songs the advantage of a streaming service is now you have easy access to all of them. Especially when combined with Genius Playlist you can be out and about listening to music on your iPhone and be reintroduced to songs you haven't heard in years. No more having to manually manage the music on your iPhone.

Agreed nor anymore having to make sure the 'master Mac' with the several gigs of storage is turned on for sharing its iTunes library in the house. I hope that feature isn't removed though ... I do have a movie collection on there too and not everything is available from iTunes and NetFlix not to mention my own home made movies. I admit I must have missed it if there was mention of this service including movies in your iTunes library.
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post #21 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnmcboston View Post

I just enjoy music. Had over 3,000 CDs at home at one point in time. Loved going to the used CD store and buy albums for 50 cents or $1. Found a lot of great music that way. Got a lot of cheap mp3 music form mp3.come and later amie street (sigh - both gone now). Even now, places like magnatune can give you a lot of mp3 music for your money. (after listening to their podcast I ended up downloading 200 tracks that night).

So for we audiophiles, it's very easy to start racking up the tracks. Kind of nice to have so many songs to shuffle... :-)

What we need now though is a 3D virtual world like Second Life where we can browse the shelves, interact with others and re live those fun times in a music store
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post #22 of 34
I still don't see how streaming will be that helpful on a daily basis, but I can see it being useful occasionally. I'm certainly not going to be streaming my music at work all day long. If I'm at home, the need for streaming falls even more. It's a cool feature though. I'm not going to knock it for being there.

Most exciting is the possibility of streaming video content. That's something I would definitely cheer about. The files are so large and require too much from a user in terms of storage and backup. My only concern there is data caps. Most likely I'd only ever stream video while on wi-fi to get around that little snag.

Both the article and the IGM videos said iTunes Match worked with your entire music library, even things not purchased from iTunes. Great, but neither explained how this works. I'm assuming that means uploading of your music to the cloud and paying for extra storage. Personally, I think I'd have to pay quite a bit to store all my non-iTunes purchased music and I don't yet know if I'd stream it all that much anyway. I mean my 120GB iPod holds it all and then some.

My biggest question with all of this is the same as it's been - quality. Will I be able to download (and keep) 256 kbps versions of the old iTunes songs I bought (or ripped) at 128 kbps with iTunes Match? Before this streaming revelation it certainly seemed that way. Now I'm not so sure. The way it's described in the video is that you have a 128 kbps file on your Mac, but can stream a 256 kbps to your iPhone. If you then download that song with iTunes match, you get the 256 kpbs version from the iTunes Store serves right? Can that higher bit-rate song then be synched to your Macs iTunes library? If so then I'll jump on board with great excitement. Paying a one-time fee of $25 to upgrade the quality of all my 128 kbps iTunes purchased (and maybe even ripped) songs (8,052 total) is a steal!
post #23 of 34
Spotify is already here and is poised to upend the market. I would not be overly sanguine about iTunes' ongoing dominance, even though I think iTunes is very well done indeed.
post #24 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

What about those of us with 50,000 tracks in our library? Who determines which 25,000 are eligible for the Match service?

uh-oh. Cult of mac has a news bit that if you have more than 25K songs, you get no syncing at all. That is of course right now for beta testing. Consumer implementation can be different once it comes out.
post #25 of 34
Question if anyone is in the beta here and testing it:

How does it handle caching? What I mean is on your iOS device, how can you choose which songs to have locally (for offline playback)? That's one of the biggest issues I've found when it comes to streaming/download combinations is that with most services (I'm looking at you Subsonic) it's a PITA to manage.

I'm using Spotify right now, and they let you cache specific playlists. Not perfect, but not horrible. I like like the concept of Pinning that Google Music does, it seems to be the most "intuitive" so far, but I'm curious how it will work on iOS devices.

That being said, this is a welcome update. Streaming doesn't make sense all the time, but for those of us with massive music collections, it's a lot better than trying to manage which songs you want to put on your "tiny" phone storage.

Edit.. Nevermind. IT seems like the Streaming is "Listen while we download" it: http://allthingsd.com/20110830/apple...snt-streaming/

That's sad I'm hoping Apple gives an easy way to clean out music you downloaded this way.
post #26 of 34
AT&T is gonna be pissed about all those grandfathered unlimited plans - my iPhone and iPad included.
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

AT&T is gonna be pissed about all those grandfathered unlimited plans - my iPhone and iPad included.

Are you kidding? They'll just terminate your grandfatheredness. Won't even bat an eye.

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post #28 of 34
At least the guy posting the video has great taste in music - RADIOHEAD rule!!
post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Are you kidding? They'll just terminate your grandfatheredness. Won't even bat an eye.

Purely opinion, I reckon they'll do that when I go LTE. I'm sure there's already small print about "3G" and "Edge" to back up their play.
post #30 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingKuei View Post

Thinking about this and researching a little more, I realized that Apple has made it a point to eliminate FairPlay DRM from the iTunes store. Then I found this article from arstechnica:

http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/20...s-answered.ars

As they point out, there doesn't appear to be any mechanism for Apple to determine if a track in your library was pirated or ripped from your own CD. If that's the case, and you are allowed to download tracks to your computer and physically store them on the hard drive, then it does indeed seem like "amnesty for pirates of 25,000 songs".

Here's what we know:
Apple knows for sure which songs in your library you've actually purchased from iTunes, and (by a process of elimination) which songs must have come from "somewhere else". It cannot tell, though, where that "somewhere else" is.

The free iCloud service will allow you to automatically synch all the original iTunes purchases onto every new device as you acquire it, and it will also allow you to keep only a small portion of your original iTunes purchases on a small-capacity device, and switch them up any time you want. This portion (the free portion) only applies to music that's definitively been purchased through iTunes.

The premium iCloud "music match" service will work with all the songs in the "somewhere else" category. First of all, it will attempt to match those songs with editions that already exist in the iTunes store -- if so, the iTunes master copy will be fed to the cloud, and you'll be able to synch the song from the iTunes store onto all your devices. If it is not found in the iTunes store, then your local copy will be uploaded to the cloud, and used to synch with all your devices. As long as you keep your subscription up, all that "somewhere else" content will behave, for all intents and purposes, the same as the iTunes purchases -- you can use the cloud to sync the sings with all your devices.

And now for the Speculation:
However, as soon as you allow the premium service to lapse, all your existing the "somewhere else" songs that have already been synced to your devices will stay there. But, if you ever allow those songs to be deleted form your devices (for example, to make space for other music) you will no longer be able to use the cloud to re-sync those songs back onto the device in the future. At that point, you'd have to use a USB tethered sync to get those songs back on the device, exactly the same as you always used to do for all songs back before iCloud existed.
post #31 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I'd love to know that too. I'm guessing you would not be able to play f you didn't renew. Otherwise it would be a one time fee to legitimize 25,000 songs from Napster for many. I don't see the music industry being that generous some how.

From what I've seen, looks like downloaded files have no DRM. They can be copied to other machines and other devices and play fine, so I'm not sure how Apple would get them to self destruct at the end of the year. Of course you won't be able to download them again if you cancel Match, but it does look like you'll have the downloaded files on your drive and can back them up as much as you'd like.
post #32 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Menno View Post

IT seems like the Streaming is "Listen while we download" it: http://allthingsd.com/20110830/apple...snt-streaming/

That's sad I'm hoping Apple gives an easy way to clean out music you downloaded this way.

Personally I like this. It will allow me to choose not stream over my 3G internet connection, but rather 'stream to my cache' when I'm on WiFi. And then listen to the music when I want. I hope this will be the case once it gets out of beta.

Cheers,
PhilBoogie
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post #33 of 34
The question to me is: will the non-iTunes music from users be synced a-la Dropbox; if a track is already on iCloud will we need to upload the track regardless? Will it be synced if the filename is different?
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post #34 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Personally I like this. It will allow me to choose not stream over my 3G internet connection, but rather 'stream to my cache' when I'm on WiFi. And then listen to the music when I want. I hope this will be the case once it gets out of beta.

Cheers,
PhilBoogie

I don't think we can go to pure streaming either. But, take Google Music for example. How it works is that you can stream the entire library you have uploaded on up to 8 devices (as opposed to 10 with iTunes). The app on your phone will automatically cache recently listened to songs (I think will be similar to what apple is doing, if I'm reading the article right), so that you can listen to that music offline as well. But Google Music also offers something they call "pinning" where you can select to download albums, artists, playlists etc to your phone for offline preemptively, like downloading it from the cloud with icloud. The nice thing though, is that you can "un-pin" those things from directly inside the music app (as opposed to using a file manager like you have to on subsonic). If you pin a playlist and add to it from your computer or another device, the system will automatically sync that pinning across devices, making sure your offline playlist has every song available.

Spotify gives you the ability to "toggle" offline playback for playlists, and you can untoggle them as well, directly in the app. It's not perfect, but it's pretty close to what Google's doing.

I wonder how Apple will solve the problem. I'm sure they'll come up with something, I'm just curious to see what it is.
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